Monday, December 18, 2017
Sports

Greg Biffle earns Sprint Cup pole at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH — Ford found some extra power at one of NASCAR's fastest tracks on Friday — enough to put Greg Biffle on the pole for the first time in almost four years.

Biffle led a Ford contingent to a strong showing in qualifying for tonight's Sprint Cup Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway to earn the top starting spot.

He was one of seven Ford drivers to qualify in the top 14 at a track where Toyota used teamwork to win the Daytona 500 in February.

Biffle was the last car to make a lap in Friday night's qualifying session and earned the top starting spot with a speed of 192.995 mph in his Roush Fenway Racing Ford. It is Biffle's first pole since Charlotte in October 2012, a streak of 130 races, and he credited engine builder Doug Yates.

"I am not going to discredit winning a pole but we would sure like to win an open racetrack," Biffle said. "We have been really close with a couple outside front row starts and just haven't quite gotten there. It does feel good for our team though."

Biffle bumped Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch, both of Joe Gibbs Racing, from the top of the leaderboard. Edwards' lap of 192.748 was good enough for second, while Busch dropped to third with a lap at 192.336.

Joe Gibbs Racing had to scramble to ready Busch's backup car for qualifying after Busch destroyed his Toyota during a crash in Friday morning's practice session.

Ricky Stenhouse qualified fourth to give Roush two drivers in the top four.

"It is a good day for the Roush Fenway Fords," Stenhouse said. "The guys have been bringing really good cars to the speedways, really fast cars. It is really cool that Greg got it for our organization. It shows we are putting a lot of hard work in and it is starting to pay off at every racetrack."

Busch wreck: Busch blew a right rear tire and crashed violently in Friday morning's Sprint Cup practice.

Busch, who was running in a pack with JGR teammates Denny Hamlin, Edwards and Matt Kenseth, veered into the Turn 2 wall when the tire blew. Busch slammed into the SAFER barrier, demolishing the front end of the No. 18 Toyota. He quickly got out of the car and walked away unhurt.

Though Busch questioned the safety of the tires after the wreck, Goodyear director of racing Greg Stucker said it was caused by a gash in the tire from debris on the track.

Busch complained shortly after the wreck that he didn't have much confidence in Goodyear — teammate Edwards also had a tire issue in the morning — but he had softened his stance by the end of the day.

"From my vantage point we've had a lot of tire issues this year. That's probably four, five or six tires that we've blown this year," Busch said. "We also did the tire test at Kentucky and didn't necessarily have the best of results, I felt like. That's where the frustration probably stemmed from and came from.

"Goodyear probably didn't deserve what they got from me earlier today, but that's just from earlier today."

Busch broke his leg and foot in a crash into a non-SAFER barrier part of Daytona during an Xfinity Series race in 2015.

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