NASCAR

Biffle clicking with new crew chief

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Rea White

Rea White has been covering NASCAR full time since 1998. She has won awards from press agencies in Alabama and North Carolina and formerly served as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Follow her on Twitter.

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CONCORD, NC

Will this be Greg Biffle’s year?

REVVING UP

The 2012 NASCAR Media Tour offered a glimpse into drivers, crew chiefs and owners as they prepare for the season. PHOTOS.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver brings a revamped team to the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. He will enjoy his first full season with crew chief Matt Puccia and bring a new over-the-wall pit crew.

As the organization shifts from four teams to three this season because of a lack of sponsorship, Biffle’s effort will be an enhanced one. Last year, both teammates Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth were in the heart of the championship race until late in the season and Edwards lost the title in a tiebreaker.

This season, Biffle wants to be among the top contenders himself.

And his organization has done everything that it can to make that possible.

“We had great people, had a great car chief, had a great crew chief in Greg Erwin on Greg Biffle’s program, but the two Gregs did not lock together,” team co-owner Jack Roush said. “One of them didn’t start a sentence and the other get to finish it. They didn’t wind up always being as comfortable with decisions that were being made and questions asked as they should have. Try as I might, I couldn’t fix that.”

So he made a change late last season, deciding that the group needed to begin working toward 2012. He decided to move Puccia, who had worked with Biffle some in the Nationwide Series to the role of Cup crew chief.

And how has that been working out?

What I did ...

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“They’ve established harmony and positive chemistry between the two of them," Roush said. "And then we took, in reducing the team . . . we looked at what was the best people and the best personnel that were complementary to Greg Biffle and Matt Puccia and augmented those.”

He also picked up the pit crew from the former No. 6 team that will not compete full time this season.

“Matt felt like they were one of the best teams with potential, so he wanted to keep them together and put them over on the (No.) 16,” Biffle said. “Then he broke up the 16 pit crew and took the best guys and moved them around the company. It’s still over the wall, replaced some other guys. So that says a lot about the guys I had, too. They stayed within the company and went to some other positions.”

The combination should enhance the effort quickly.

“I think that the 16 will be better, first of all, from a leadership standpoint of having everybody working together,” general manager Robbie Reiser said, pointing out that several internal changes have been made with Biffle. “. . . Their over-the-wall bunch, obviously, got some tune-up with bringing in some younger guys, and that’s going to bring some spirit back to the team. I think that will all be pluses.”

So does Biffle. He’s pleased about all the changes made within his team on all levels.

Biffle is excited and optimistic entering the year.

He finished as runner-up in the series standings in 2005 and then made the Chase for the Sprint Cup three consecutive years, 2008-10.

Now, he wants to capitalize on the changes that have been made. A career driver for Roush Fenway Racing, Biffle has been on board with other moves made to enhance the organization over the years. This one is no different.

He’s staying focused on living the theory that he says all drivers must follow — always keep going forward. This year, he just hopes that leads him back into the Chase.

“We’ve got a lot of different mechanics, kind of moved around,” Biffle said. “I think it’s going to be good, I really do. I watched them work at Daytona and they were quick, thorough, got the car turned around, the car was ready all the time, they didn’t look like they were in a mad dash, they looked like they were executed and thinking through their changes. I really feel like it’s going to be a good season.”

Tagged: Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle

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