Biffle, Roush stay hot with win in Michigan

Driver gets fifth victory, team its 8th as it takes 4 of top 5 spots in 400

Auto Racing

June 20, 2005|By Ed Hinton | Ed Hinton,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

BROOKLYN, Mich. - Greg Biffle and his Roush Racing teammates moved up yesterday from mere control of the Nextel Cup series to something more on the order of dominance.

Biffle won the Batman Begins 400 to lead a rush of Roush Fords to four of the top five positions. Only Tony Stewart, who finished second in a Chevrolet, broke up the parade. Mark Martin was third, followed by Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards.

The win was Biffle's fifth of the season, the most for any Nextel Cup driver. It was the Roush team's third straight victory and eighth of the season, to seven wins by all of the other teams combined.

"I ask myself, `Where is it going to stop?' " Biffle said. "With what we know right now and the way we're going, I feel like we can keep winning."

What the Roush team seems to know are technological secrets yet to be discovered by others.

Where it stops may be determined by NASCAR, which prefers parity and has a history of moving to break up dominance with regulation changes.

After the race, officials confiscated 10 engines, a sampling from all three makes - Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge - and from most of the major teams. The engines will be taken to NASCAR's research and development facility in Concord, N.C., for analysis on dynamometers, as well as complete disassembly and scrutiny.

Biffle's engine wasn't part of the sampling, but Martin's and Kenseth's were.

But team owner Jack Roush maintained his biggest, most powerful secret "is people. This is a people game. NASCAR controls the cars, the templates, the engines, the dimensions. The aerodynamic specifications of the cars are so close that it comes down to the choices people make."

"We've got great engines and great drivers and great crew chiefs and really good handling packages," said Martin, the senior driver on the team, who is in his final year of full-time Cup competition. "This is only my opinion, but I believe that Roush Racing has the hottest lineup of drivers in NASCAR, depth-wise."

Of the five Roush drivers, the only one who didn't finish in the top five yesterday was Kurt Busch, the defending Nextel Cup champion, who was 12th.

Biffle has won one-third of the races this season. At this rate, he would win a dozen, the most since Jeff Gordon won 13 in 1998. And Biffle could see this season coming, even before it began.

"I felt like it, but you don't ever want to say anything about it because you could have egg on your face," he said.

But he knew how strong he'd been at the end of last season, culminating with his win in the finale at Homestead-Miami.

"Everybody is asking what the biggest difference is between last year and now," he said. "But you know, we won two of the last 10 [in 2004] and really almost three." (Results, 7D)

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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