Greg Biffle's struggles in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup remind me of the infamous meltdown involving former Colts coach Jim Mora when asked to assess his team's playoff chances.
"Playoffs?" Mora asked incredulously. "Don't talk about — playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs?"
That's the pain Biffle is feeling these days.
Once upon a time, he was the points leader during the regular season. He led the pack for 11 weeks, ending at Pocono, then went on another three-week run through Atlanta.
But those are long-lost glory days for Biffle, who finished 13th, 18th and 16th in his last three races, pretty much destroying any shot he had at a championship.
He ranks 11th going into the unpredictable tentacles of Talladega, where the combination of restrictor plates and a superspeedway make it dicey for everybody.
Biffle is 51 points behind leader Brad Keselowski. That's more than an entire race when you consider the standard 43-driver field and the distribution of points on a sliding scale. In fact, the only driver doing worse than Biffle is his Roush teammate Matt Kenseth, who is 72 points behind.
Sorry, but hasta la vista and we'll see you next year, boys.
"All I can do is drive the car," Biffle said after finishing 16th at Dover last weekend, when he dealt with pit-stop issues that crushed his chances of winning.
Biffle had a strong car and seemed on his way to a top-10 finish midway through the race when his tire changer didn't switch out his right front wheel properly, forcing Biffle to go back to the pits and dropping him three laps down.
Biffle went nuts, lashing out at his pit crew in an expletive-filled tirade. Can't say I blame him.
"The tire changer knew automatically," Biffle said. "I saw him know the right front was loose, and that would have got us one lap back, which would have got us about ... 10 points or so. So we gave up an extra six, eight or 10 points maybe on losing one more lap to come around and change the lefts with nothing wrong with them."
The frustration level is high, and understandably so. Biffle knows he is toast.
"That really takes us out of the title hunt," he said.
Consider that the greatest comeback in the Chase belongs to Jimmie Johnson, who trailed Jeff Burton by 165 points (using different scoring values) at this juncture in 2006 before coming back to win the championship. That would equate to about 40 points in the current system.
But this isn't a two-man race. Ten drivers are ahead of Biffle, and pretty much all of them would have to have a meltdown during the seven races left on the schedule.
Not going to happen.
"Now we'll just work on being in the top 10," Biffle said.
Once-dominant Greg Biffle now a Chase also-ran
Regular-season points leader for 14 weeks has fallen out of contention for championship
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