The little kid with the gelled Mohawk uncrossed his legs and hopped up from his primo seat on the floor in front of the 500,000-gallon coral reef tank. Sergeant majors and eels and tarpon glided by as if he were watching a room-sized screensaver.
Turning to the man with the staff-issue blue Oxford, name tag and walkie-talkie, the kid asked, "I hear that's a NASCAR driver?" gesturing over his shoulder with a thumb toward one of the figures frolicking with a sea turtle at the top of the room-sized tank.
"Yes," replied the man, bending to make eye contact with the kid. "That's
Blank. Silence. Bubble, bubble, bubble.
"What time does the show start?" the kid asked.
Greg Biffle says he sort of likes "flying under the radar." It suits him, he says. But if he talks long enough, he begins to wonder how his low profile is possible. He's won a NASCAR truck series and Nationwide title, and barely missed what would have been an historic Sprint Cup title in 2005 -- no one has won all three championships. Plus, he's contending again this season for high-profile, highly successful Roush Fenway Racing.
On Tuesday he actually swam under the radar during a promotion junket at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa for the July 4 Coke Zero 400, which he won in 2003. Clad in scuba gear, and separated from the unimpressed kid by a few inches of glass and 20 feet of water, Biffle, 39, was enjoying one of the ancillary joys of the job. Much of his charitable efforts involve an eponymous foundation dedicated to the welfare of animals. Maybe that's why he didn't seem at all put off when that same aquarium staffer came running down the access stairs to the top of the tank when he prepared to dive, thrusting a waiver form into his hand. (Biffle once was certified to dive but let the license lapse). All this after his aquarium dive chaperone had finished making chomping motions with his hand, as in, "these fish might try to do this to you."
Biffle sat for questions before donning his wet suit and aqua socks, and as usual, he was insightful and unvarnished reflecting on his 13-year career, how he got here, and trophy cases. And somehow he'll still manage to stay under the radar.