Man of the people, Biffle, finally gets his shot
Biffle often seems brooding, but was sullen, more quiet than usual, still sorting through the emotions of the recent death of long-time friend
So, an ice-breaker. "Excited about getting engaged?" "It's just ... I don't know, I'm not getting any younger and I am ready to start a family, I think," he said, picking at a notebook on the miniature table in front of him. "That's kind of the next step in the process, I think.''
Biffle's media relations agent, seated a few feet away and working at a laptop, spun in her chair, clasped her hands next to a beaming face and channeled Biffle's now-wife,
If fan bases weren't cobbled like coalitions by marketers and sponsors, the 38-year-old Biffle would among the most popular men in the sport. He likes to drive fast, he comes from pedestrian beginnings, argues with his boss and wonders what in the world his lady is doing sometimes. He has a tricked-out golf car with flames on it, and has been seen in the infield at race tracks exercising his boxer, Foster, by doing figure-8s and having the dog chase him.
And after winning the first Chase for the Championship race on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, he again has a chance to become the first to win titles in NASCAR's top three series.
It's been a well-earned chance. Biffle was racing Late Models he'd built in his own shop in Vancouver, Wash., in 1995 when he decided to try for something bigger. He lugged his gear to Tucson, Ariz., for a made-for-television stock car series that featured some of the then-untapped West's best undiscovered talent.
Biffle won all but one race and became a favorite and a friend of Parsons, who was working the broadcasts as an analyst. Parsons lobbied teams such as Richard Childress Racing and Petty Enterprises on Biffle's behalf before Roush put Biffle in one of its truck series programs 18 months later.
Biffle had never sat in one before getting the job. "Biffle came from total obscurity," Roush Fenway president
Biffle validated Parson's faith and Roush's offer, winning five races and the truck series title in 2000, four races and the Nationwide Series crown in 2002. He gave Parsons a championship ring from each series. He has won at least one Cup race every season since his rookie year in 2003, and arguably would have added a first title at NASCAR's highest level in '05 had the team not left a lug nut loose during a late stop at Texas.
Forced to pit to tighten the wheel, he finished 20th, dropping 122 points behind eventual champion
Biffle was left explaining his then-girlfriend's behavior after a 2006 incident at Texas Motor Speedway when Lunders stepped up the ladder to
"It was a matter of the safety for everyone was really the concern, and that was it." Perhaps ironically, he's appeared on the sitcom,
He says what he considers the truth and lets the particulars sort themselves out afterward, a guilty pleasure in NASCAR, where sanctioning body, tracks, promoters, sponsors and teams tie themselves in knots to present what they feel is the proper façade. After having a tire blow, hitting the wall and his No. 16 Ford catch fire at the Las Vegas tire test, he ripped the track's emergency preparation, saying he was allowed to fly home without being checked for a concussion, unleashing an avalanche of responses from the track.
Said Biffle after the incident: "They didn't have any medical people there either. They told me, "We saw you go by on fire!'' That's great, at least you could come help me.
"They had a wrecker, but they had no idea, no standard protocol. I was hurt. Standard deal is to hire an ambulance, but when you're in an accident like that, they ask, 'You feel all right? What day of the week is it? Were you knocked out? Do you remember everything?' Nothing. Here comes a truck. They gave me a ride.
"They had some people, but they were like, 'Do you need oxygen? Did you inhale any of that smoke?' The thing was on fire, I was like, Well, yeah." Biffle later softened his stance and let the whole thing go away, but hey, the man was trying to keep him down.
And speaking of the man, he's a lot like
"They make good decisions behind a wheel instead of a scared one. They both have great ability. They can draft, they can road-race. They're all-around, good, well-rounded drivers."
But not at all romantic.