By Jerry Jordan, Editor
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s been more than two years since Greg Biffle raced on a NASCAR track and more than five since he drove in the NASCAR Cup Series but nothing about that lack of seat time appeared to affect him Thursday night as he raced his way into the 2022 Daytona 500 with a 14th place finish in the Bluegreen Vacations Duels at Daytona.
Coming into the weekend, Biffle is behind the wheel of the No. 44 New York Racing Team Chevrolet. Because Biffle didn’t have one of the fastest two qualifying times from the night before, he was forced to race his way into the Great American Race.
“You know, it’s a humbling experience,” he said. “It’s challenging. I’m used to coming down here, being in the 500. You’re a charter team or you’re high enough in points. It definitely has been a lot of pressure.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for the guys that come down here and have to do it (race their way in) every year. It’s tough. I’ve done it once before a long time ago. I won’t mention how long ago that was. I’ve had to do it once before, try and race my way in. It’ll be a nice night tonight, but I’ve got to get up at 7:00 in the morning and go do a charity fishing tournament on Lake Lloyd, so I’m excited about that. No sleeping in tomorrow. And when you have a year-and-a-half old, you get up at 6:00, 5:30 every day anyway.”
Biffle also joked about now being the oldest driver in Sunday’s race at age 52. Prior to his qualifying, that honor was held by Canadian racer and former F1 Champion, Jacques Villeneuve, who is 50 years old. Not having been in the car for several years, Biffle said he was feeling it after the race.
“After that 150-mile race I do (feeling his age) because I was so nervous the whole time,” Biffle said. “You know, it wasn’t tiring, it was just wearing on your — you’re sitting there calculating like a computer over and over and over and over, where is he at and where is this and what lane am I in and make sure I don’t make any mistakes and looking at the dash like there’s something I could do if anything happened.”
Biffle’s car, with sponsorship from Grambling University, was built on a Richard Childress Racing chassis with a Hendrick Motorsports engine, so he knew he would have a fast racecar. Still, there was a lot that went into the team getting a competitive car on the track.
“I feel like I’ve got as good an opportunity as anybody, and I feel like I’m in a position to – I didn’t know being – not to say dysfunctional, this team came together so late and we’re kind of an underdog, but now on the racetrack, that’s a different story,” Biffle said. “Really excited for Grambling University, and this Childress-Hendrick combination really worked for us. You know, I think the opportunity to drive good equipment was intriguing. It was RCR build with a Hendrick engine. That was an intriguing thing for me to come back. Obviously, the new car, I wanted to see what they’re about, what they drive like.
“To be honest with you, I’ve been talking with John Cohen for a couple years about putting a program together, so it’s ironic that it just came together last minute and this happens to be the car because potentially it could have been last year, but I’m glad it came together when it did.”