Biffle makes his move

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 20, 2006

The stars that Greg Biffle needed to begin aligning are coming into place nicely.

After his win at Darlington, Biffle jumped six spots to land in the 14th position in the points standings. Since the race at Texas, Biffle has climbed nine spots and now is solidly in the hunt to become eligible to compete for the Nextel Cup championship.

Biffle’s recent success shouldn’t come as a surprise. He had an awful case of bad luck early in the season. His car has been dominant at several of the tracks only to succumb to mechanical failures or other driver’s mishaps. I think the no. 16 will be there in the end and will have a say in who wins the championship.

Kevin Harvick took a tumble of four spots to ninth position after a chunk of asphalt tore a hole in his car’s radiator and Kasey Kahne continued his free fall to land in eighth spot. Just four races ago, Kahne was third in the standings. You will see drivers enter and exit those last few spots in the top-ten throughout the season until the September Richmond race when the field is set.

Dale Jarrett and Michael Waltrip officially announced last week what was one of the worst kept secrets in the garage. Jarrett will join Waltrip next season and pilot the new Toyota Camry. The car number and sponsor were not announced, but whispers are that Waltrip is very aggressively pursuing UPS to join the party.

Apparently, if UPS does decide to leave Robert Yates and follow Jarrett, Waltrip could expand his team to three cup teams next season, instead of the two which have been in the works. Sponsorship is set for two teams and the addition of UPS would give Mikey the opportunity to field another team. The question then becomes, who drives the third car?

Keep an eye on Yates; replacing Jarrett will be a critical decision for the future of that organization. Already considered to be behind the curve in many areas, making a mistake in the process of replacing Jarrett could be felt for a long time.

The annual NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge is Saturday night in Charlotte. This will be our first look at Lowe’s Motor Speedway since the track was repaved and many of the teams will use this race as a test for the Coca-Cola 600 next Sunday night.

A field of 21 will take the checkered flag for the All-Star race. There are several different ways for a driver to become eligible to drive in this race. The first is all drivers and car owners that have won a race in the current or preceding year. Past champions within the last ten years are also eligible as are winners of the All-Star race within the last ten years.

The winner of the Nextel Open, the qualifying race before the main event, also makes the race as does a driver voted on by the fans. Last year’s fan voted driver was Martin Truex, Jr., but this year the sentimental favorite is Kyle Petty. Petty’s sponsors, mainly Coca-Cola, have pledged sizable donations to the Victory Junction Gang camp if the fans vote Kyle into the race. I hope he makes it; I’m voting for him.

My pick to win the All-Star race is Jimmie Johnson. Tune in to FX at 7 on Saturday night and enjoy the race.