It’s certainly hard to complain about one’s fortunes when you’re competing with your teammate for the top spot in the sport.
Of course, NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers are always looking for that little something extra, that needed edge to overcome the competition. In other words, they are never satisfied. Still, points leader Greg Biffle and his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth seem pretty confident these days.
Biffle already has a win under his belt this season and has been atop the points for weeks. Kenseth trails him by a mere two points. And teammate Carl Edwards is trying to work his way toward them, sitting 10th in the points standings.
For Biffle and Kenseth, the season is certainly going smoothly so far.
Biffle seems calm and relaxed these days – and why wouldn’t he? Biffle is off to a stellar start, opening the year with a trio of third-place finishes. He has seven top-10 finishes, six of them top fives, and the win at Texas.
He’s finished fifth twice in the last three points races and has led the standings since the third race of the year.
He has a worst finish of 15th in his last three races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, site of Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600, further sparking his optimism entering the race. And those engine failures that Roush Fenway Racing had in the all-star race? Don’t even worry about those this weekend – credit that to the nature of trying things out for a non-points race vs. the standard durability of those Roush Yates engines for a “regular” race.
It’s really no wonder Biffle is upbeat about his weekend – and season – prospects.
“We’re excited about where we’re at in the points and leading,” Biffle said. “We’re only a couple points ahead of our teammate and we’re here to win. We want to win the Coca-Cola 600. We’ve got a great piece. … This is the car I won Texas with and it’s a long race where anything can happen. We’re targeting, like always, finishing up front and finish in the top five – only two positions between Matt and I.
“I’m sure at some point we’ll both lead a lap, so that will be one point, but it is super tight at the front of the field. We’re not gonna worry about the points lead. We’re gonna worry about our car and doing the best we can. If we give up the lead, then the important part is to make the Chase (for the Sprint Cup) and be leading it after Homestead.”
His teammate, Kenseth, has also enjoyed an impressive opening stretch. He won the season-opening Daytona 500, finished second at Bristol Motor Speedway and has runs of third and sixth in the last two points races. He also won a segment of the all-star race and finished third overall in it.
Kenseth, like Biffle, has a win this season. He has seven top-10 finishes, six of them top fives, and has been running at the finish of every race.
And at Charlotte he has five top-10 finishes in the last six points races, including the win last October.
Like his teammate, Kenseth appears to be relaxed at this point in the season. He joked throughout his media session Thursday at the track, dismissed any idea that the team could be peaking too early and seemed generally upbeat about his season in general.
Sure, he sees areas where his group could improve – what team doesn’t? – but overall he recognizes the improvements in performance for the group this year.
So as he looks at the early season, Kenseth joins Biffle in feeling confident about the races so far – and those to come. And, in assessing potential for incremental improvement, he only makes his team even more formidable.
“There are certainly a lot of things we could do better,” Kenseth said. “There are a lot of things we could be doing worse as well, so you just keep working on all those things. I don’t think the season could be a lot better starting off, but certainly you look back and can’t help doing that. Saturday night I wish I would have had a better restart and been able to race for the win. Vegas, running third with a few laps to go and had one of the best cars for the long run, and ended up wrecking it.
“You look back at things like that and not that you sit there and need to beat yourself up forever, but you certainly try to learn from those things and get better.”
And that could just make him even more difficult to contend with in the months to come.
“Hopefully, our car performance will continue to be as good as it’s been and we’ll be able to keep executing and getting finishes, and if we keep putting ourselves up front in position to win, we can collect some more wins along the way,” Kenseth said.