Greg Biffle and the crew chief on his No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford team, Matt Puccia, gambled and nearly won the GoBowling.com 400 Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
But afterward, Biffle didn’t seem to want to talk about that much when reporters suggested that his team’s late-race fuel-mileage gambit almost paid huge dividends.
"Yeah, it did but it was still a tough day," Biffle told the media after finishing fifth at Pocono. "We had a 20th-place car and got track position and drove our butt off. We did everything we could. We had a good strategy there and we might have been able to sneak one out."
They didn’t, but they were right there as they continue to seek their first victory of the 2014 season.
With 19 laps to go, Biffle elected not to pit for tires and fuel — staying out in the lead despite the knowledge that he might end up a lap or more short on fuel at the end. It is exactly the type of gamble for a win that drivers who don’t have one yet tend to go for when the Chase for the Sprint Cup is almost upon them, and they know a win will secure them a Chase berth.
On the ensuing restart, Biffle surged into the lead as Dale Earnhardt Jr., who restarted in fifth, quickly worked his way up to second and started riding on Biffle’s bumper. Biffle held Earnhardt off for five laps, but Earnhardt worked his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet around Biffle with 14 laps remaining and led the rest of the way to secure the victory, Earnhardt’s second in less than two months at Pocono and his third overall of the season.
Biffle was left wondering — again — about what might have been. He noted that the No. 4 Chevrolet driven by Kevin Harvick was able to move up into second after yet another caution came out when Kurt Busch hit the wall with seven laps remaining, causing Biffle to fade to fifth after the final restart with four to go.
"The 4 was pretty fast, but if that second caution wouldn’t have come out for Kurt, we might have had a prayer to try and steal one," Biffle said. "But overall, it was a great day to get the 3M retro paint scheme Ford Fusion up in the top five. We beat the 24 car (of Jeff Gordon, who led a race-high 63 laps but ended up finioshing one spot behind Biffle), which I’m not sure how we did that. They were definitely the fastest car, but we feel good about it. We’ve got to keep working on our car and trying to find the rest of that speed."
VIDEO: Larry McReynolds talks about why Roush Fenway Racing has struggled in 2014