By LARRY EDENS
for the Daily Telegraph
BRISTOL, Tenn. —
Quick: Which NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver has completed over 98.3 percent of the regulation laps run at Bristol Motor Speedway over the past decade-plus?
If you said Greg Biffle, you are correct. That’s not surprising since Biffle has only seven DNF’s (Did Not Finish) in 166 races since the start of the 2009 season; entering this season’s race at Michigan, he has finished every race for the past two-plus seasons.
What is surprising, however, is that his impressive lap-completion statistic comes at a track famous for its high-banked turns, close and intense racing, and potential for spin-outs and wrecks on each and every lap.
Biffle is proud of his achievement, but wary of its continuation every time the green flag falls at The World’s Fastest Half-Mile.
“I love coming to Bristol. It’s such a challenge, especially to finish all of the laps. I take pride in coming out of here with good finishes,” he said, having completed 10,330 of 10,531 laps.
“But when I come here, I often wonder if I have gotten too lucky. [I ask myself], ‘is this going to be the day when …?’ ”
Biffle has seen his “… life flash in front of my eyes” more times than he can count at BMS, but has managed to “skim through” when others “get caught up in a mess.”
“You think that sooner or later you’re not going to skim through, and I do think about that when I finish all of the laps and on the lead lap with just a little scuffed up paint here and there,” said Biffle. “You try to race as hard as you can and avoid those things, but sometimes they just gobble you up.”
You can’t win a race if you don’t finish it. Experience has taught Biffle a lot about Bristol wrecks, what causes them, and how to avoid them.
“When the spotter tells you they’re wrecking, the first instinct of [drivers with little or no experience] is to absolutely stop. That’s why there are two wrecks here all of the time — the first wreck and then the wreck behind that one caused by guys slowing down. The drivers behind them don’t have a chance,” Biffle said.
“Typically, what starts wrecks here is when the driver on the outside doesn’t give the driver on the inside enough room. You can usually see that one developing from the cockpit of your car.”
For Biffle, one thing and one thing only transcend all of the bad things that can occur at a Bristol Sprint Cup series race.
“Winning fixes everything. It doesn’t matter what else has been happening.”
Although Biffle is still searching for his first Sprint Cup Series win at BMS, he has earned 11 Top Tens and 6 Top Fives. His average start/finish is 13.4 and 12.1, respectively.