Greg Biffle raced his way into victory lane at Texas Motor Speedway Friday night after winning the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race. It has been 15 years since the 2000 Truck Series champion was last seen in a Truck Series race.
His last start in the series came in 2004 at the season finale in Homestead where Biffle started 24th and drove to an eighth-place finish. However, the last time NASCAR nation saw Biffle in victory lane in the series was in 2001 at ISM Raceway, formerly named Phoenix International Raceway.
And now, 18 years later, Biffle returned to Texas Motor Speedway in hopes of getting a win for the famed No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports team who has been on fire this year. And he did just that.
It looked like Biffle had not missed a beat as he qualified sixth for the race. Stage 1 saw him finish 16th, but Stage 2 had a better outcome as he wound up sixth.
After a long green flag run, a caution came out with 15 to go when Austin Wayne Self stalled on the bottom of the race track. This saw Biffle restart on the front row with a 10 lap shootout. He had two-time champion, Matt Crafton, chasing him down, but in the end, Biffle saved enough fuel and was able to run away with the checkered flag.
“I don’t know if it was that easy,” Biffle told MRN Radio in a post-race interview. “I had my work cut out for me at the beginning of the race. So much odd stuff happened. I had a bunch of people wrecking in front of me and behind me. I was just trying to keep myself clean. You know beat the fenders in a little bit, but Mobil 1 Toyota ran really good tonight. I thank those guys for coming on board and helping us. You know Kyle Busch assembled a great group of guys. Pit stops were phenomenal, Rudy (Fugel, Crew Chief) did a great job calling the race on top of the box. It’s not easy to win these, but I can see how Kyle (Busch, Team Owner) has done very well.”
The SpeedyCash.com 400 was broken up into three stages that saw 40 laps in Stage 1 and Stage 2, and 87 laps in the final stage.
There’s an old joke that goes around every once in a while and that’s, “Everything Is Bigger In Texas.” Well so were the cautions. There were four cautions in the first stage along with one red flag.
The first occurred on Lap 12 for Gus Dean who wrecked on the backstretch. The second was on Lap 21 when Niece Motorsports driver Kyle Benjamin got loose off Turn 4 and smacked the wall. On Lap 27, the third caution flew and this time it was for the No. 9 of Codie Rohrbaugh. And the final caution for the first stage came on Lap 34, as Angela Ruch spun off Turn 2 and wrecked.
After four cautions and one red flag in Stage 1, Johnny Sauter, who has been to victory lane at Texas numerous times, survived the carnage and won Stage 1.
Stage 2 saw the green flag fly on Lap 46 and saw tons of cautions again.
This time, it was Stage 1 winner Sauter, who received heavy damage to his truck as he and Austin Hill made slight contact with each other, which sent Sauter into the wall with major rear end damage to the truck. This would eventually take Sauter out of contention to win the race.
On Lap 63, Texas native Cory Roper spun off Turn 2 to bring out another caution. Just a few laps later after having a strong night, Todd Gilliland spun in Turn 2 after his truck got loose on the restart which ended his night as well.
Coming to Lap 75, the new high school graduate Tyler Ankrum made a spectacular save sliding onto pit road without hitting anything. There was no caution for the incident. Turn 2 seemed to be the trouble spot again as Jordan Anderson spun there on the final lap of Stage 2 which ended the stage under caution.
Sauter’s Thorsport teammate and Kentucky native Ben Rhodes wound up wining the stage.
The third and final stage finally came with 80 to go. Young’s Motorsports drivers Sheldon Creed and Tyler Dippel were on the front row for the restart. However, troubles rose again, as they made contact with each other with Dippel wrecking on Lap 89 after having a flat tire go down.
There were more problems on the restart with 73 to go, as Stage 2 winner Rhodes, had to pull out of the lead when his truck started to go south. As that happened, another incident broke loose as Spencer Boyd, Natalie Decker and Trey Hutchens all made contact with each other on the backstretch to bring out another caution.
Rhodes issue was later diagnosed as a transmission failure. The No. 99 Carolina Nut Ford F-150 did not return to the track and wound up finishing a disappointing 21st.
With 64 to go for the restart, Biffle was up front and took the lead for the first time since 2001. However as we had seen throughout the night, the caution came out again with 60 to go. After having numerous cautions in the first half of the race, the field finally settled down a little bit and got into a long green flag run.
Teams began making pit stops with 30 to go as they could not make it the rest of the way. It began with Anthony Alfredo who was having a solid night in the top-10, then Ross Chastain with 27 to go and race leader Austin Hill with 21 to go.
Another caution with 15 to go changed everything as Biffle, along with others, chose not to make a pit stop. A late race restart was set up with 10 to go and Biffle had to hold off Crafton, Ankrum, Enfinger, Burton and Creed, who were all looking for their first win of the season.
By not pitting, Biffle could have been the only one to run out of gas. But luck was on his side as he was able to fend off the two-time champion of Matt Crafton and drive into victory lane for his first Truck Series win since 2001.
“I probably wasn’t as nervous as Rudy (Fugel, Crew Chief) was,” Biffle said to MRN Radio in his post-race interview describing the fuel situation. “But I knew it was close, it was a good call by Rudy to keep us out there. We had no tires and a little bit of gas wasn’t going to do anything, we were all ready for it. So, I figured we would stay out.”
With this win, the Washington State native claimed the first victory of The Triple Truck Challenge and won $50,000. Several people wondered if Biffle would continue the three-race span in hopes of collecting half a million by the time Gateway ended.
“You know, I don’t know,” Biffle added. “I think they (Kyle Busch Motorsports) already have a plan put together for all three trucks to win, but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
This was Biffle’s first win at Texas since 2000, a whopping 19 years ago. He led twice for 18 laps. This was Kyle Busch Motorsports’ sixth win of the season.
There were 13 cautions for 63 laps along with 12 lead changes among nine drivers.
The No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports truck continues to lead in the owner points over the No. 98 Thorsport Racing team by 32 points.
Up Next: The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series continues their exciting season and The Triple Truck Challenge by continuing their Midwest swing visiting Iowa Speedway Saturday, June 15.