By Lee Montgomery Special to the Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
Baker Curb Racing co-owner Gary Baker tried to make his Nationwide Series team work with two non-Sprint Cup drivers. But he joined the Cup bandwagon in 2010, hiring Greg Biffle to drive the No. 27 Ford part time.
And, boy, has that paid off. Biffle is eighth in the Nationwide standings heading into Friday’s Royal Purple 200 at Darlington Raceway despite missing two races. Biffle is coming off a second-place finish at Richmond last weekend, his third top-five and sixth top-10 finish for Baker Curb this year.
Biffle has energized the entire organization, helping teammate Scott Lagasse Jr., driver of Baker Curb’s No. 43 Ford, despite a busy schedule.
"I cannot overstate the value of Greg," Baker said. "And when you put Greg and (crew chief) Rick Viers together, it’s a dynamic duo, to say the least. That’s my term for them."
Biffle gives the team his veteran experience, plus his Cup track time can translate into immediate knowledge for Baker Curb.
"Then you put on top of that the fact that it’s Greg Biffle," Baker said. "And as far as I’m concerned, of the Cup drivers, he’s the most underrated driver that puts on a Cup uniform every weekend."
Baker Curb hasn’t won in the Nationwide Series since 2005, before Baker and Mike Curb bought the former Brewco Motorsports team. But Biffle has been close this season, with runner-up finishes at Richmond and California.
"It’d be really neat to get (them) back in victory lane," Biffle said. "(Richmond) and California, we’ve been really, really close. I’ve got some more opportunities. It would be really neat to get those guys into victory lane—really neat."
That could happen at Darlington, where Biffle has two Cup wins and one Nationwide victory.
"I can’t wait to go to Darlington," Biffle said. "It is my favorite place."
Baker was a confident owner after last week’s Richmond race.
"We’ll get one next week, we’ll get one next week," Baker said. "If we just keep giving him the horse.
"I’m so proud of these guys, I don’t know what to do. I know how much they’re doing with how little they’re doing it with. That makes a difference."
What: Royal Purple 200
Where: Darlington Raceway
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. Eastern
TV: ESPN2, 7 p.m. Eastern
Radio: MRN/Sirius Satellite Ch. 128
Track layout: 1.366-mile oval
Race distance: 147 laps/200.8 miles
Qualifying: Friday, 3:10 p.m. Eastern
2009 winner: Matt Kenseth
2009 polesitter: Kyle Busch
Points leaders: 1. Brad Keselowski, 1,469; 2. Kevin Harvick, 1,410; 3. Kyle Busch, 1,385; 4. Justin Allgaier, 1,289; 5. Carl Edwards, 1,266; 6. Joey Logano, 1,228; 7. Paul Menard, 1,191; 8. Greg Biffle, 1,039; 9. Brendan Gaughan, 976; 10. Brian Scott, 955.