NASCAR: Biffle on pole
By Dan Gelston
DOVER, Del. ó Greg Biffle took the pole. Kyle Busch took the heat.
Biffle held off the Busch brothers, turning a lap of 155.219 mph on Friday at Dover International Speedway to take the top spot and bolster his bid to drive the No. 16 Ford to his first victory of the season.
Kurt Busch was second at 153.971, and points leader Kyle Busch was third at 153.767 on the 1-mile concrete track.
Kyle Busch has proven he can succeed in any level and is having a fantastic overall season. He leads the Sprint Cup series by 94 points over Jeff Burton and won a combined nine times this season in the Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series. What bothers some drivers in the Cup series is Busch’s sometimes obnoxious attitude.
The latest run-in for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver came last week in a postrace confrontation with four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon. He chased down Gordon after the Coca-Cola 600 and got in his face. His gripe? That Gordon raced him too hard while fighting for position down the stretch. Busch finished third; Gordon fourth.
Gordon accused his former teammate of being bitter over his parting with the Hendrick Motorsports team. Busch said Friday he simply overreacted and should have reached out to Gordon via other methods.
The two talked this week at testing at Pocono Raceway and Busch said, “all is cool now.”
“My mistake, but I learned from that,” Busch said. “He gave me a bit of advice if there was a next time for that.”
Gordon called it a “non-issue.”
“I think that if you just look at the circumstances, I’m sure that he’s not happy about the way he left Hendrick, but I would think he’s got to be pretty happy where he’s at right now and things that are happening,” he said.
But Kevin Harvick called out Busch and said he showed a lack of respect to the veterans. Harvick said Busch was talented, but doesn’t yet have the maturity to go along with his considerable skill.
“At some point, all that disrespect comes back because no matter how good you’re doing, you’re not going to be good forever,” he said.
Busch said Harvick should mind his own business.
Busch, who spun out Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Richmond International Speedway, has been criticized by other drivers for his aggressive driving. He’s become unpopular with the fans and usually hears the loudest boos at race introductions. He’s egged on fans by waving his arms for more or wiping mock tears.
Busch has become NASCAR’s newest “villain,” whether he likes it or not.
“I guess there have been villains over the years, so if that’s their word that they’re going to call it, then that’s what it is,” Busch said. “It doesn’t bother me. I don’t feel like that’s who I am. But I guess that’s the role I’m portraying.”
Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray round out the top five for Sunday’s race.
The tough week continued for Haas-CNC Motorsports. Crew chiefs Robert “Bootie” Barker and Dave Skog and car chiefs Derick Jennings and Thomas Harris started their six-week suspensions for violating rules on the new car. While Scott Riggs qualified the No. 66 Chevrolet 28th, the No. 70 car driven by Jason Leffler failed to make the field.
Perhaps the surprise of the day was Jeremy Mayfield qualifying 10th in the No. 40 Dodge. Mayfield holds the track record of 161.522 set in 2004. He only competed in seven Cup races this season ó none since April ó and was substituting for the injured Dario Franchitti.
“This is probably the best car I’ve had in two years,” he said. “It amazes me how (the team) have worked with me.”
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