This is the fifth in a series of 2013 Sprint Cup Series driver recaps that will be featured on NASCAR.com
Although he won one race and qualified for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the 2013 NASCAR season was definitely an "off" year for Roush Fenway Racing driver Greg Biffle.
Paired with crew chief Matt Puccia for just the second full season, the team fought often to find speed, and struggled for much of the season to find consistency.
Biffle's return to the winner's circle at Michigan International Speedway in June proved memorable -- it was the 1,000th NASCAR national series win for Ford Motor Co. -- but overall it was one of only a few highlights for the veteran driver and the No. 16 RFR team.
"I would say we were average (in 2013)," Biffle said. "We made the Chase which was a difficult test. It's not easy, there's a bunch of guys that (didn't).
"Another benchmark is winning races and we were able to win this year. But overall we weren't consistent enough, we didn't have enough speed, and we weren't competitive enough."
Biffle, a former Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series champion, won at least one race for the ninth time, but his top-five production fell off dramatically with only four through the season's 36 points races. His top-10 finishes were also well off his 2012 numbers with eight fewer.
While he did qualify for the Chase, having a shot at the championship going into the final 10 races didn't deliver the spark that the team had hoped. By season's end, he was ninth in points, his second worst overall finish since 2008.
"It's frustrating; you want to throw the helmet down and kick the door," Biffle said. "I want to finish in the top five, I want to be competing for the win, I want to lead laps. I don't want to be fighting tooth and nail for 13th or 15th. And that's frustrating.
"But you've got to keep your head up; you've got to work hard and come back the next week and say 'what can we do to be better?'"
The 44-year-old wasn't out front often, but there were opportunities and solid finishes from time to time. A week before his Michigan victory, Biffle finished second at Pocono; he was fourth earlier in the season at Texas and third during the fall Chase stop at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Making the Chase was a statement, but so to was the team's inability to contend once the 10-race playoff got under way.
Biffle, one of three Cup drivers in the RFR stable, said he hopes the organization works more closely with Penske Racing, which also fields Fords, in the coming year. The 2012 season was the first time the two teams had been working with the same manufacturer (Penske made the switch from Dodge to Ford prior to the start of '13). And while Penske driver and defending champion Brad Keselowski failed to make the Chase, teammate Joey Logano carved out an eighth-place points finish.
"I hope we do; it looks like they are just a little bit better than we are," Biffle said. "They've got a little more consistent speed every week."
The off-season always provides the opportunity for a fresh start, and this year's will be no different. With a new rules package ahead for the 1.5-mile tracks, Biffle said it could provide an opportunity to rediscover a strong intermediate-track program, something for which RFR had been noted in the past.
"I'm looking as this as an opportunity to get on a level playing field," he said. "It's been well documented that we as an organization were probably a little behind this year. We didn't get our fair share of top-fives and 10s and wins this year that we probably should have, certainly not like we were in 2012.
"So I'm hoping this new rules package gives us something of a reset, a chance to get back and try new things and maybe we get to the punch a little quicker than the competition does."
FULL SERIES COVERAGE
SEASON IN REVIEW
- Dec. 11: Carl Edwards
- Dec. 12: Kasey Kahne
- Dec. 13: Ryan Newman
- Dec. 16: Kurt Busch
- Dec. 17: Greg Biffle
- Dec. 18: Joey Logano
- Dec. 19: Clint Bowyer
- Dec. 20: Jeff Gordon
- Dec. 23: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Dec. 26: Kyle Busch
- Dec. 27: Kevin Harvick
- Dec. 30: Matt Kenseth
- Jan. 2: Jimmie Johnson
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