BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Jeff Gordon and Greg Biffle are both battling for a Chase berth this weekend in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Michigan International Speedway, but they're on opposite sides of the Chase bubble. Entering the Pure Michigan 400 (Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) Biffle is 80 points behind the 16th and final Chase driver, Clint Bowyer . Gordon is in 12th place with a 59-point cushion between himself and Kasey Kahne , the first driver outside of the top 16. Given the different situations, does that mean Gordon and Biffle will take different approaches to Sunday's race? Gordon said he didn't feel like he had much cushion to play with given how frequently things change in this sport. "I just want to finish a race where I'm capable of running," Gordon said. "What we can't do is have problems that we've had; you can't get caught up in a wreck like we did in Indy. You can't have a brake issue like we had last week. We can't be finishing 30th and 40th. It's not like we have to win. We want to win and we're working hard to do that, but we know that top 10s are plenty good enough." While Gordon has the luxury of aiming for top-10 finishes, Biffle is facing perhaps his best chance for a victory before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. The Roush Fenway Racing driver leads active drivers with four Sprint Cup wins at Michigan and has finished in the top 10 in 15 of 25 races on the 2-mile track, but he has just two top-five finishes this season. Yes, Michigan has been good to Biffle , but does that success actually put extra pressure on him to get in the win column this weekend? And will he drive more aggressively to get that victory? "Yeah, I think a little of both," Biffle said. "We have four races and have to win one of them to get in the Chase. We have been very fortunate to make the Chase six of the last seven years. We feel the pressure, trust me. ... We felt like we have been close. Charlotte, last week and Pocono were all opportunities for us. This certainly could be a weekend for us." Or, it could be the weekend for Gordon to notch his first win of the season and assure himself a chance to make one final run at a fifth Sprint Cup championship. Gordon has won three times at Michigan, including last year's August trip to the Irish Hills. The Hendrick Motorsports driver has 27 top-10 finishes in 45 races at Michigan, where he has won six poles. "I have always enjoyed this track," Gordon said. "It felt very natural here. We have had great success here. The three wins probably don't speak to the true stats. It's been a track that not only have we been fast at and won a few times at, but we have put some pretty nice, consistent finishes together, too." Consistency is something the No. 24 team hasn't enjoyed much of lately. In the past four races, Gordon has alternated between good and bad results, finishing ninth in New Hampshire, 42nd in Indianapolis, third at Pocono and 41st at Watkins Glen. "We had some good fortune at Pocono, and kind of recovered ourselves from the Indy incident," Gordon said. "And then we followed that up with the Watkins Glen debacle. So, I'm hoping that this weekend we can have another recovery like we had at Pocono." In order to do so, Gordon, along with Biffle and the other drivers, will need to make the right adjustments to the high-drag package being used at Michigan. It's the second time the series has used this setup, following its debut last month at Indianapolis. NASCAR announced Friday that the high-drag package wouldn't be used for the Chase, but who adjusts best to it this Sunday could go a long way toward determining who actually participates in the postseason. "In the race you can't be wide open," Gordon said. "I wish. I really wish we were because I think in order for this package to get the most out of it you need to easily be wide open, so you can really utilize the draft. ... We are going to be fanned out and finding clean air and then trying to get that tow down the straightaway. It's going to be a totally different Michigan I feel like than what we have ever had before."
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Roush Fenway Racing 's Greg Biffle likely needs a win in the next four races to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , but he'll have to do so while working with a new spotter. According to RFR, Jason Reiner will replace Joel Edmonds as Biffle's spotter this weekend at Michigan International Speedway for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). Reiner has spotted for Chase Elliott . "It is not one of the changes I was looking for, but it was time to head down a different path for the company," Biffle said. "Like I said, it was not preferable to start with a new spotter, especially with Bristol next weekend and four races before the Chase, but it is a business and we will work for it the best we can to get up to speed with listening to a new guy up top." Biffle leads active drivers with four Cup victories at Michigan, with his most recent win coming in 2013. He has 15 top-10 finishes in 25 Cup races at the track. Biffle is 80 points behind Clint Bowyer for the 16th and final Chase slot. He finished in the top five two races ago at Pocono Raceway, one of two top-five finishes this season (the other coming at Charlotte). " Greg has won two of the most significant races we've won here -- the 100th anniversary for Ford Motor Company and the 1,000th win for Ford," team owner Jack Roush said about Biffle's success at Michigan. "We are looking forward to the new setup here with the aero and we look forward to seeing what we can do."
Greg Biffle talks about the change on the spotter stand heading into Michigan, and how it wasn't the change he was hoping for this late in the season.
Driver says 'it's very hard to stay enthusiastic' with RFR's topsy-turvy year LOUDON, N.H. -- NASCAR has never seen a driver win a championship at each of its three national series levels, but there was a time when it looked as if Greg Biffle could be the first. With his XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series titles already locked up in 2002 and 2000, respectively, the Roush Fenway Racing mainstay appeared primed to complete NASCAR's version of the triple crown after 2012, when a career-best average finish of 10.2 propelled him to 21 top 10s -- another career high -- 12 top-five finishes and a pair of wins. But with just a single win (Michigan, June 2013), eight top fives and 26 top 10s in 90 races since, the triple crown seems like nothing but a pipe dream for Biffle at this point. The NASCAR veteran has been but a blip on the radar of other drivers as they pass him both on the track -- and in performance. "(The stats are) probably one of the toughest things for us to look at," Biffle said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, site of Sunday's 5-hour ENERGY 301 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, PRN, SiriusXM Radio). "We look at the same stats you're looking at and we look around us and the cars we're racing with and it's definitely frustrating, but, at the same time, we're working as hard as we can to try and figure out what we need for speed -- what we have to do with these cars. "To be quite honest with you, we don't know what to do to them and we don't know where the speed is at so it makes it really difficult to fix it." One of the most frustrating wrinkles of the drop in performance for Biffle and Roush as a whole has to be the success that other Ford-backed organizations have enjoyed in increasingly dramatic fashion. Roush holds Ford's most recent NASCAR championship ( Ricky Stenhouse Jr .'s 2012 XFINITY title), but rival stable Team Penske has racked up a whopping 15 Cup wins -- including a Daytona 500 -- between drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano since Penske made the switch from Dodge to Ford following Keselowski's title run in 2012. Toss in Logano's Championship 4 appearance at Homestead-Miami Speedway last fall and it's enough for Jack Roush to pull out whatever hair he has left. That trend has carried throughout this year as well, with the Penske duo sitting pretty near the top of the standings with a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berth a near certainty, as both have wins. Biffle , meanwhile is struggling to stay afloat in the Chase picture at all, currently 18th in the points standings with one less spot up for grabs if/when Kyle Busch enters the top 30. The 19-time Cup Series winner and his Roush teammates, Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne , even sit behind fellow Ford driver Aric Almirola , who races for the smaller and less-funded Richard Petty Motorsports . "It's very hard to stay enthusiastic, it is," Biffle said. "I wouldn't say it's like one arm tied behind your back, but it is difficult to get dressed, buckled in there, and get out on the race track, but every time we do we're searching for that speed, so we're back at the shop working on stuff, we're testing, and then we're bringing it to see what it does competing to that next guy." When Ford rolled out its revamped version of the Gen-6 Fusion at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this year, initial reviews by Biffle and Co. were positive. A 17th-place finish doesn't seem like much, but with an average finish of 26.0 the previous three races, it was a step in the right direction. A few weeks later, Biffle notched his best finish of the past two seasons when he placed second to former teammate Carl Edwards in the Coca-Cola 600 . Things appeared to be rounding into form then, but the performance hasn't materialized since. "We were all jumping up and down and all excited about Texas, and we brought it out and we saw more consistent drive in it," Biffle said. "It wasn't like it was doing four different things trying to drive it, so it calmed that down, but it didn't have any more speed. So then we took another version of it, an updated version of it to I don't remember where and it showed a little bit of promise, and then Charlotte it showed a lot of promise. We qualified up front and ran up front a lot of the race, and ended up finishing second on fuel mileage but we were about a 10th-place car. We were like, 'OK, we've got this thing figured out now,' so now we’ve moved into the top 10 or close to it and now we can start scratching at the rest of it. "Then Pocono we were fair and then we went to Michigan and were all foaming at the mouth and we were 36th, two laps down. We had no idea what happened, so back to the drawing board for us. We're kind of pinging around it and trying to find that moving target and every time we feel like we’re getting closer, we get knocked back down to the bottom rung again and start back up." At this point in the season, it appears unlikely that Biffle and the Roush group can regain the speed that one of NASCAR's premier organizations once boasted, nor does it seem like he’ll have the opportunity to finish off his triple crown and hold that elusive Sprint Cup in Miami at season's end. Still, with the nature of the Chase format, anything can happen if the dominoes fall just right. Biffle , a former winner at the "Magic Mile," could steal a win on Sunday and gain berth to the sport's playoffs and make a run at a title. "Yeah, that sounds really good," Biffle said. "I'm gonna go with that plan right now." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
RELATED: Chase Grid " Chase bubble watch " Chase Fest details A year ago, it was Kasey Kahne . Only two races remained before the start of the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , and the Hendrick Motorsports driver was 13th in points. Unfortunately, he was outside the top 16 in the Chase standings. Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin , AJ Allmendinger , Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola trailed Kahne in points. But they were among those that had wins. They had invitations to the dance. At the time, Kahne had managed only two top-five finishes. His average finishing position was 16.8. He hadn't been to the victory lane since midway through the previous season. So he and his team went out and won at Atlanta Motor Speedway . It earned Kahne one of the final Chase spots and the No. 5 team a second chance. It wasn't quite as easy as it sounds. Kevin Harvick , as was often the case, was dominant at AMS. Kahne fell a lap down early. The team battled back. He didn't take the lead for the first time until Lap 303 of the scheduled 325-lap race. Suddenly, he seemed to be on his way to the win. Then cautions appeared, forcing two late restarts. Green, white, checkered late. Kahne's lead was lost on pit road. Yet somehow he muscled his way past Matt Kenseth coming to the white flag, holding on for the win and a spot in the Chase. It's a similar position for the 35-year-old this year. Two races remain -- stops at Darlington Raceway and Richmond International Raceway -- before the field is finalized for this year's 10-race run to determine the Sprint Cup champion. Kahne is once again winless. He is not alone. Teammate Jeff Gordon has finished inside the top five only three times this year. The four-time champion is ahead of Clint Bowyer in the playoff picture, with a wider margin back to folks such as Aric Almirola and Greg Biffle . A year ago Gordon had three wins and a vise-like grip on first place in the points. Bowyer's got a pair of top-fives, but much of the attention around the No. 15 team of Michael Waltrip Racing centers on where Bowyer will call home next season. Paul Menard has a razor-thin lead on Gordon in points, but taking nothing for granted. Can anyone? Matt Kenseth 's blown engine at Bristol last week, leaving the Joe Gibbs driver 42nd in the final rundown, didn't go unnoticed. Things not only can happen, they often do. With 10 drivers already secure -- 11 if you go ahead and give Kyle Busch one of the spots although he's close enough to the fault line that a misstep could make things interesting -- and two races remaining, at least three of this year's Chase spots will be filled based on the points standings after Richmond. It could be five, if no new winner emerges in the next two weeks. Few on the fringes, though, have shown signs of contending for wins. Almirola? One top five and only three laps led this season. Biffle ? It's shaping up to be the wrong type of career year for the Roush Fenway Racing driver, with just two top-fives and an average finish of 20th. Austin Dillon ? Kyle Larson ? Both have shown potential. Both are winless. Kahne? Well, who knows? The question isn't can it be done. Kahne's already proven that it's possible. The question is who among those can pull it off?
Photo credit -- Chase Elliott 's Instagram @chaseelliott9 RELATED: Series standings At only 19 years old, Chase Elliott already has a NASCAR XFINITY Series championship, is currently contending for a second one and has a pretty sweet job lined up next year taking over the iconic No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for retiring four-time Sprint Cup Series champ Jeff Gordon . Not only has Elliott's racing career taken off, he has too -- literally -- having just earned his private pilot license on July 23. And the view from above is something he's wanted his whole life. It seems Elliott got more than the racing gene from his father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott , as he has inherited the flying bug from his dad, an accomplished and avid aviator. "He's been flying a long time so I've always been around it since I was little," Elliott said of his father. "I've watched him fly for years and years and been fortunate enough to have access to his planes and sit up front and watch him fly them so I've always definitely interested in it. "It's one of those things where the more you do it, the more you become interested in it. And the more you get into it, the more intriguing it becomes. I learn something new every time I fly. "It's definitely tough to (master all the necessary lessons). A lot of things come along with it. But flying is a privilege and something you can't take lightly ever." A lot of the same traits -- discipline, smarts and dedication -- Elliott put into his burgeoning racing career he used to earn the pilot license. He actually started taking lessons while still in high school but it was such a busy time between school, racing and flying lessons that Elliott put off finishing his license until a few months ago with the support of his dad. "It's something you work hard for to achieve," Bill Elliott said. "I see so many people who have gone through a lot of the flying part and the learning curve but never went on and got their pilot licenses and they always regretted it. I told Chase, 'You need to go on and get this done.' "I'm glad he did. That's something he'll carry with him regardless of where racing takes him." The Elliotts join an impressive list of NASCAR drivers who have secured private pilot licenses including Carl Edwards , Greg Biffle , Matt Kenseth and retired drivers Mark Martin , Rusty Wallace, Cale Yarborough and Ricky Rudd. Ryan Newman 's wife Krissie flies helicopters. Similarly, Elliott figures having the ability to pilot an airplane can be as much a practicality as it is a luxury. His father helped secure him a Cessna 182 single-engine, four-seater to use and Elliott is eager to start flying to races closer than home. Last week, he flew to Bristol. He has also posted a photo of himself practicing grass landings on Instagram. "Absolutely, it's a major convenience if you need to go somewhere, you can turn a four-hour drive into an hour-and-a-half flight," Elliott said. "Time is valuable for anybody and any chance to make up time like that is great." Elliott wasn't sure if he would fly himself to this weekend's XFINITY Series race at Road America , but he is looking forward to the stand-alone road race regardless. It's the third road course race in the last four weeks for the series and Elliott is one of the series regulars who embraces the opportunity to turn right. He is on a six-race run of top-10 finishes in his No. 9 NAPA Chevy and currently trails championship leader Chris Buescher by 23 points in the standings. He has finishes of seventh (Watkins Glen) and fifth (Mid-Ohio) in the two road races this year and finished fourth at Road America last season. "I thought last year was a good learning experience," Elliott said. "I was really pleased with Watkins Glen. I'm still learning on my end, but thought we had good cars this year and that's a big step in right direction." For Elliott, that direction is up.
Roush Fenway Racing driver describes group's genesis, approach RELATED: O'Donnell addresses Dover meeting with drivers Roush Fenway Racing 's Greg Biffle did not attend Saturday's driver meeting with NASCAR at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, but he was aware of it. He also said Monday that he was among the first drivers to start talking about a council last September. "It actually started with Denny (Hamlin), myself and Brad (Keselowski) … in Chicago, after the Chase was set," Biffle said on "NASCAR Race Hub" on FOX Sports 1. "We started these discussions, and it's kind of continued from there and built and it's a good thing." The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver with titles in the XFINITY and Camping World Truck divisions described the make-up of the group and some of the subjects discussed. "It's a great discussion to continue to help improve racing and safety within the sport," Biffle said. "We drive the cars and so we know what taking power out does, adding or subtracting downforce a lot of times. You get the driver input, NASCAR's input and the team owners' input. They've got to pay the bills to continue to change the cars around. "It was a past champion, top Ford, top Chevy, top Toyota drivers. That's kind of how the council's made up. Then we discuss the issues, and they go on and meet with NASCAR so we can all stay on the same page and not be surprised by anything. "And we all have the same agenda. We want great racing, close side-by-side racing, competitive and safe for the drivers." In the past, a pair of future NASCAR Hall of Famers would talk with the sanctioning body about issues affecting the garage. Now, his fellow drivers felt the need to work together. "…before, let's face it, it was Rusty Wallace would walk in there or Dale Earnhardt would walk in there and (say), 'This is what we need.' And those guys really knew. "We as a collective group kind of know I think what direction we need to go and what we want to see. It's easier for us to go in there with a little bit more focused group on what we need and what we think and try and work with NASCAR on the outcome." MORE: Stewart says NASCAR meeting is 'very, very positive' Horsepower and aero adjustments were two of the topics on Saturday's agenda, according to Biffle . "We're race car drivers, right, so we want to go as fast as we can," Biffle said. "We want the most power, and I think that one of the topics is the power that has been taken away. It's made it a little bit more difficult to pass and so power is one thing, that we would like to be able to have that horsepower when we step on the gas pedal. I don't think you could argue with any race car driver as far as that. "And then the downforce issue and trying to make the cars a little bit less aero-sensitive from the cars behind and be able to pass. That's the key, right?" Biffle said the council sets the time to talk with NASCAR, and he found out on Saturday that the group was meeting so he didn't think it was unusual that six-time champion Jimmie Johnson wasn't aware that the meeting had taken place until after he earned his record 10th victory at Dover. "Jimmie went out for a bicycle ride," Biffle said. "Doesn't surprise me he didn't hear about the meeting or catch wind that they were actually meeting on that Saturday." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Greg Biffle talks about how frustrating the 2015 season has been for him and his team, and how they are working to improve every single week.
Veteran looks to lead the way for revamped Roush Fenway organization MORE: Full schedule of season previews Team: Roush Fenway Racing No. 16 Ford Rank in final 2014 standings: 14th Wins: 0 Year in photos: Greg Biffle 2014 highlights Strides: In a year of struggles, The Biff showed some of his brightest glimmers in some fairly unlikely places. Most known for its performance on intermediate-sized tracks, the No. 16 team led at least a lap at all four restrictor-plate races last season and posted a sweep of top-10 finishes at both road courses, cementing Biffle's status as an underrated road racer. But the 45-year-old veteran's most clutch moment came in a must-have late-summer surge to clinch a berth in the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. Biffle rose from 19th place on the outside of the provisional postseason grid after Indianapolis by patching together five straight top-10 finishes and a hard-fought 19th in the pressure-packed regular-season finale at Richmond International Raceway . "Those last three were like the last three of the championship (hunt) in '05 for me, just to get in the Chase," said Biffle , who qualified for NASCAR's playoffs for the sixth time in the last seven years. "Because I've said forever if you're not in the Chase, you're a nobody. I don't mean that in a negative way, but the media focus and attention in this sport is about the Chase, it's about the playoffs, and if you're one of the 16 that make the Chase, you're one of the top brands in this sport, in my opinion." Setbacks: Last season's results on 1.5-mile and 2-mile tracks -- venues formerly in Biffle's bailiwick -- illustrated the full breadth of the performance deficit for one of Roush Fenway's most venerable teams. Biffle's best efforts came in April with a sixth place at Texas and a fifth at Darlington, but at Michigan -- arguably his best track -- he managed just a 20th and a 10th. The winless season was only the third of Biffle's 12-year career with team owner Jack Roush, and his tally of three top-five finishes in 2014 matched a career low. But the downturn in speed, Biffle indicated, hasn't been a sudden development for the Concord, North Carolina-based organization. "We'd have to start years back and look at the way we've gotten to this position," Biffle said. "We've probably missed opportunities to change our simulation program and … it kind of turned technical faster than we did as a company. So the amount of engineers, how organized that process has to be, and how seamless you have to get that data, formulate that and get it to the race track, that's where we had some holes in our program as well. It's going to take a bit to fix that, too. You're not going to fix that overnight, so we're working hard at shoring that up." Quoteworthy: "There wasn't anywhere we were good at last year, really. All across the board, our performance was down. Pit stops were good, but you gain two or three spots on a pit stop and you lose them when they throw the green flag, it doesn't really help you. Or if you don't qualify good, and then in 20 laps you're 20th, that doesn't help you either. We've just got to find speed in our cars." What's next: The No. 16 Ford's primary colors will be in flux for 2015, with Ortho Insect Control and the Kellogg Company's Cheez-It brand helping fill the void of departing sponsor 3M. But the driver-crew chief combination will remain intact as Biffle will continue to work with Matt Puccia, who's called the shots for the team since the middle of the 2011 season. Recent changes to the Roush Fenway driver lineup may have more of an impact. Carl Edwards completed his long-running tenure at Roush last season, not far behind Matt Kenseth 's exit from two years before; both now wheel Toyotas for Joe Gibbs Racing . In their place are twenty-somethings Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., back in Roush's No. 17 for a third year, and Trevor Bayne , moving up from the XFINITY ranks for his first full season at the Sprint Cup level. The new teammate dynamic leaves Biffle firmly in a position of senior leadership as the team tries to build momentum. "When you lose Matt and then lose Carl, they were a wealth of information when it comes to setting up the cars and we could look at their data and things like that," Biffle said. "So it's going to be a little bit of a learning curve for us, but we're up for the challenge." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Cheez-It to serve as a primary sponsor for 'The Biff' starting in 2015 RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Greg Biffle has picked up a new primary sponsor for the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season. Roush Fenway Racing announced that the Cheez-It brand will serve as a primary partner of the No. 16 Ford. The deal is a multiyear partnership with other Kellogg's brands, such as Frosted Flakes, which have appeared on the No. 99 car of Carl Edwards . With Edwards moving on to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015, that sponsorship will now be on Biffle's No. 16. "It's going to be really great to have Cheez-It on the car next season," Biffle said in a team release. "My family and I have been enjoying Cheez-It snacks for years and I could not be more excited to represent them. The Cheez-It cars have always looked really good on the track and they are going to look even better with the No. 16 on the side." Check out the short clip below, posted on YouTube by Roush Fenway Racing to announce the news. Biffle will also carry sponsorship for Ortho Insect Control next season for approximately half of his races. Biffle's longtime primary sponsor, 3M, is moving to Hendrick Motorsports next season to sponsor the No. 24 Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon . Biffle qualified for the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup but was among the four drivers eliminated following the final race of the opening Challenger Round at Dover. He is currently 14th in the points standings. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule