Kansas City, Kan. Kansas Speedway might be the best place for Greg Biffle to cool off after an extremely hot and miserable weekend in Charlotte.
Less than 20 laps into last week’s Coca Cola 600, Biffle reported that his cooling system was malfunctioning — on a day when temperatures approached 140 degrees on the track.
The system wasn’t just broken, either. It was pumping scalding hot air into Biffle’s helmet and burning the side of his head, even with his visor flipped up to provide ventilation.
Biffle’s crew eventually got his cooling system sorted out during an extended stay in the pits, and he pushed his way back from 34th to the front with 50 laps left. But what could have been the best car in Charlotte finished 13th following a late pit stop.
“We took a really, really fast car and finished 13th with it. We got the wave around twice and the lucky dog once,” Biffle said Friday in Kansas, where the Sprint Cup resumes Sunday. “If we would have had a mediocre car we would have finished about 30th.”
If Biffle can bring another fast car to the 1.5-mile track Sunday, history suggests the No. 16 Ford could be the among the ones to beat.
Biffle, currently 11th in the Sprint Cup standings, sports the top driver rating at Kansas of anyone in the field. Biffle, along with Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, has won twice here, first in 2007 and in last fall’s race when he took first to pull himself out of a deep hole in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Biffle also has six top-five finishes in nine Kansas races and has run nearly 93 percent of his laps here in the top 15, the most of any driver.
“I really like this race track. This race track’s a lot of fun,” Biffle said. “There are a lot of options and it has a little slower corner speeds and you have to be a little technical, which plays into my hands over the years I guess.”
Biffle’s in the mix for a spot in the Chase with NASCAR’s regular season reaching its midway point after Sunday’s race, though his position in certainly precarious.
Biffle has yet to pick up a win this season and has just one top-five finish in 12 starts. If he’s going to make a push up the standings, Kansas would be appear to be a great place to start.
“It’s getting harder to sleep at night when you’re right there on the verge of the points, especially when you have runs like you did last week,” Biffle said. “You’ve got to start having solid top-fives every week. If you have a solid top-five every week, then forget about it. We’re not there yet. We picked up another spot in points but that didn’t really do a whole lot. We didn’t move very far.”
Despite last week’s disappointment, it was far from a disaster for Biffle.
Biffle got a boost from how strong the No. 16 ran, and that he and his crew were able to overcome the cooling fiasco, charge from the back more than once and salvage a top-15 finish.
He even turned off his air conditioner during practice Friday, a blazing hot day in the Midwest, just to prove a point.
As long as Biffle doesn’t have scalding hot air blowing in his face, he said he’s fine.
“You don’t need it. What happened last week was really unique,” Biffle said. “The thing turned into a heater.”