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DOVER, United States — When NASCAR announced its new point system before the start of the 2011 season, many wondered how quickly drivers could gain or lose positions from week to week.
After falling to 31st in the standings with a 28th-place finish at Las Vegas in the third race of the season, Greg Biffle has climbed 19 spots in seven races since and goes into Sunday’s event at Dover in 12th-place.
Biffle, who has registered four top-10 finishes in the last seven races, hopes to continue the streak at one of his best tracks. In 17 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Dover, Biffle has 10 top-10 finishes, including six top-5 runs and two wins. His average finish is 11.0 and ranks third to Bristol (10.6) and Kansas (8.1) on his personal list. Biffle spoke with Ford Racing on Monday about his impressive rise in the standings.
Q: ARE YOU SURPRISED TO SEE HOW MUCH GROUND YOU’VE MADE UP THESE LAST SEVEN RACES?
A: I am. We’ve had some good runs. We haven’t done anything super-spectacular. We’ve led some laps and got bonus points for that, but I’m kind of surprised because I thought it would take longer to really get our way forward.
Q: DOES THIS TELL YOU ANYTHING ABOUT THE NEW POINT SYSTEM?
A: Yes and no. I guess it tells you that you can come back from being down a little ways. I guess I am a little shocked we’ve moved that quick, but it really matters where everybody else finishes, too. If you’re 31st in points, you’re gonna pass a lot of those guys quickly if you’re finishing in the top 10. Then as you start to get closer to the top 10, you’re gonna start slowing down. When I was 14th in points, if I finish 15th like I did at Richmond, but 13 of the guys in front of me are ahead of me in points, then I’m not really gonna go anywhere. But if only three or four guys finish in front of me that are ahead of me in points, then I’m gonna gain on all those guys, so it really matters where everybody else finishes and what they do.
Q: ARE THERE ANY OTHER CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO YOUR RISE BECAUSE, LIKE YOU SAID, YOU HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING SUPER-SPECTACULAR.
A: What that tells you is everybody else has not had great runs. Like, for instance, Matt [Kenseth] is 10th in points right now after his Darlington finish. He’s not far out of reach and he was third [after winning Texas], so the gap closes quickly if you have a bad run. What happened was all of those guys in front of me, not all at once, had an occasional bad run, so I’ve gotten a little help on the other side as well while also running good myself.
Q: EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE 12TH IN POINTS, GUYS LIKE JEFF GORDON HAVE A WIN AND ARE TECHNICALLY IN THAT TRANSFER CHASE POSITION BECAUSE HE’S INSIDE THE TOP 20. THE PRIORITY FOR YOU NOW IS TO GET A WIN OR TWO, CORRECT?
A: That’s the thing, you’re looking good with one win, but I really think you’re gonna have to get two to get a wild card spot because if I’ve got one win and I’m sitting 12th in points, and somebody is 18th in points and has two wins, they’re gonna take my spot. I think that one of the spots will surely go to a guy with two wins, but the question in my mind is whether the other one will be taken by someone with just one.
Q: IS DOVER A PLACE YOU CAN GET THAT FIRST WIN?
A: Absolutely. I was a little disappointed with our Darlington run because I thought that was a great spot for us to be able to win, but we still managed a top-10 finish. I’m optimistic about Dover and a lot of these other tracks coming up on the schedule like Charlotte, Michigan, Pocono and Kansas. The thing is, though, if we move to 11th or 10th in the points, it’s gonna be tough to gain positions after that. We’re not gonna keep moving up to sixth in points like we’ve moved from 31st to 12th.
Q: WE’VE SEEN DRIVER ALTERCATIONS THE LAST TWO WEEKS. HAS ANYTHING CHANGED OUT THERE ON THE TRACK?
A: I think it’s just a coincidence. This is the way it’s always been. Ryan [Newman] and Juan [Montoya]had their moment, which that could have happened at any time, and there at the end those two got to beating and banging and one of them wrecked the other under caution. That stuff can happen, and I think it’s just a coincidence it’s happened back-to-back.