Distributed by The Sports Xchange
If past successes at a track can predict future outcomes at that same track, Greg Biffle could have the inside line to the trophy in Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Kansas Speedway.
Biffle is usually strong at Kansas, ranking in the top five in 11 Loop Data categories at the 1.5-mile track, tying him with Jimmie Johnson.
At 41 points behind points leader Matt Kenseth, Biffle needs another solid showing on Sunday to make a serious run at this year's title. He's currently sixth in the standings with seven races remaining before a new champion is crowned.
Biffle has compiled two wins, seven top fives, nine top 10s and one pole in 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts in Kansas. Biffle's two victories came in September 2007 and October 2010 -- before the series started taking two annual trips to the track.
"We've got a lot of speed in our cars and 1.5-mile tracks are our favorite type of tracks," said Biffle, who has captured seven of his 19 career checkered flags in the series at 1.5-mile tracks. "I like Kansas and have a couple of wins there. We've been running well and we have a strong opportunity to get our first win of the Chase."
He has been running at the finish in all of this season's 29 races -- the only driver competing in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup who can claim that. Biffle won in the series' first trip to Michigan in June and has collected four top-five and 12 top-10 finishes.
After entering the Chase seventh -- tied with Joey Logano in points -- Biffle finished 16th at Chicagoland, followed by back-to-back finishes at New Hampshire and Dover of third and ninth, respectively.
At Kansas, he had a stretch of seven races from September 2007 until April 2012 in which he racked up consecutive top-10 finishes, including his two wins that bookended two third-place performances. When the series made its first trip of the season to the track in April, Biffle finished 19th. In last October's race, he finished a disappointing 27th, 40 laps down.
Biffle fans, however, should be comforted in his performance at the track during the course of his 12-year career in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rather than fret over how he finished in his last two visits. His career average finishing position of 10.1 at Kansas is his personal best among all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tracks.
In the last 11 races at the track in which Loop Data was collected, Biffle's average finish drops to 8.3, second among all active drivers behind only Johnson.
Other Loop Data categories in which Biffle ranks in the top five among active drivers at Kansas are: average driver rating (110.1, second); average running position (8.163, second); fastest early in runs (166.911 mph, fifth); fastest late in runs (163.886 mph, third); fastest laps (205, third); fastest on restarts (161.329 mph, fifth); green-flag speed (165.043 mph, third); laps in top 15 (2,501, second); laps led (282, third); quality passes (465, second); and speed in traffic (164.344 mph, second).
At the six tracks remaining on the schedule after Kansas, Biffle has won only at Texas and Homestead, but by the time the series arrives at either of those locales, it might be too late for him to mount a run at the title. Therefore, it's imperative he makes some headway this weekend.
"We've got to get a win this weekend to get back in the Chase," Biffle said.
DILLON AIMS TO PASS HORNISH
Only four points separate Austin Dillon and NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader Sam Hornish Jr., but Dillon is trying everything within his power to change that ... and soon.
When NASCAR's No. 2 series arrives in Kansas for the Kansas Lottery 300 (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), Dillon will have passing Hornish on his agenda ... both in the standings and the race.
"Sam Hornish Jr. and I are both really competitive and in order to win the championship, the No. team is going to have finish ahead of him every weekend," Dillon said.
In Dillon's only trip to Kansas with the series last October, he finished runner-up to eventual series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., seven spots in front of Hornish. That was Hornish's only visit with the NASCAR Nationwide Series to the 1.5-mile track, too. In the season's first 28 races, Dillon finished in front of Hornish 12 times.
He has finished in the top five 10 times and in the top 10 18 times to go along with six poles, including a series-record four in a row. A trip to Victory Lane continues to remain elusive for the driver from Welcome, N.C. However, he understands the value a top-three finish can have in helping him take over the lead sans a win.
"I think (winning the championship is) going to take top-five finishes, and by top-five finishes, I don't mean you can finish fifth every weekend for the rest of the year and win the championship," Dillon said. "I think you need to finish in the top three consistently."
Although Dillon is winless in 2013, he has compiled six top-three finishes. Hornish, who won earlier in the season at Las Vegas, has nine top threes.