20th April 2012, 11:10 PM
Notebook: Pecking order among top Cup teams
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Greg Biffle tried to deadpan his answer, but the Sprint Cup Series points leader couldn't suppress a sly smile as he replied to a question about the pecking order at Roush Fenway Racing.
A reporter reminded Biffle that teammate Carl Edwards had signed a hugely lucrative contract renewal last year and was widely considered the No. 1 driver at RFR. Yet Biffle won last Sunday's Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas and leads the series standings over teammate Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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Biffle's win at Texas snapped a 49-race winless streak. In February, Kenseth won the Daytona 500 for the second time. Edwards, on the other hand, is 11th in the standings and eager to stop his own 40-race drought, dating to last March at Las Vegas.
So Biffle's answer to the question about the driver ranking at RFR had an unmistakable tongue-in-cheek flavor.
"No, I still think the No. 99 [Edwards] is the number one team at Roush," Biffle said Friday at Kansas Speedway, allowing the smile to play at the corners of his mouth. "I'm the underdog."
Edwards disagrees. Based on current performance, he says it's easy to identify the top team at Roush.
"Right now, Greg is the No. 1 team -- the No. 16 team is -- because they're leading the points and winning races," Edwards said.
Earnhardt: No second fiddle for me
As far as driver status goes, Dale Earnhardt Jr. recognizes he might not have the longevity or accomplishments at Hendrick Motorsports of four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon or five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, but Earnhardt doesn't believe his teammates are better drivers than he is.
"There is a bit of a pecking order, and it really comes down to what you've done lately," Earnhardt said Friday at Kansas. "I think that Jimmie and Jeff will always carry a certain role in that company that I will probably never achieve, just due to them being there that long and having that trust built up with Rick [Hendrick] and all the employees there -- and their accomplishments, obviously."
Asked whether he thought Johnson was a better driver, however, Earnhardt was emphatic in his response.
"No, he's a hell of a race car driver, but I feel like I'm the best," Earnhardt said. "I think that's the way you have to feel. I feel like I'm smarter than everybody, and I can drive better than everybody, and I know a lot of people ain't going to agree with that, but I feel pretty strong about it."
Michael Waltrip Racing got positive news from sponsor 5-hour Energy, which picked up 12 additional Cup races with driver Clint Bowyer to go with the 25 announced last year. Bowyer, who will be sponsored by Aaron's May 6 at Talladega in his only event not sold to 5-hour Energy, is 10th in the series standings through seven races.
In Sunday's STP 400 at Kansas, Aric Almirola's No. 43 Ford will be dressed appropriately. The car will feature a throwback STP paint scheme similar to the one seven-time champion and team owner Richard Petty made famous. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the company's association with Petty, STP is donating $43,000 to Victory Junction Gang Camp, founded in memory of Petty's grandson, Adam Petty, who lost his life at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in May 2000.
On May 22 at TRD (Toyota Racing Development) U.S.A. in Salisbury, N.C., reporters will get their first look at the new Camry to be raced by Toyota teams in 2013. Ford and Dodge already have revealed their 2013 Fusion and Charger, respectively. Chevrolet has yet to schedule the unveiling of its 2013 race car.
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