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Adding Flavor to Vanilla

Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Biffle inspects the cherry on top. Photo: Getty Images

If the Sprint Cup Series garage were an ice cream shop, Dale Earnhardt Jr. would be chocolate chip cookie dough; the flavor an overwhelming amount of people like, but the rest feel like there's no excuse to not have baked the dough into a real cookie.  Jimmie Johnson might be peanut butter cup, liked by many, but disliked strongly by those with a nut allergy.  Jeff Gordon could be mint chocolate chip, a good old-fashioned winner.

Then, there's Greg Biffle.  He'd be vanilla.

Biffle doesn't really excite anyone the way the others might.  He's not a huge name outside the racing community.  He rarely creates controversy and doesn't carry an inherent debate about NASCAR into the room with him.  He just goes about his business with good productivity.

For the first six races of the season, Biffle just kind of existed at the top of the Cup standings.  While everyone was discussing the emergence of Michael Waltrip Racing, the race wins at Stewart-Haas or the controversy surrounding the C-posts in Jimmie Johnson's car, Biffle was out of sight (likely somewhere in front of them).  He was doing better than any of those cars, just continually being a top product without anyone taking notice...like vanilla ice cream.

He finally decided enough was enough at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night.  It was time to add some hot fudge sauce, whipped cream and put the cherry on top in victory lane.  "How do you like me now?" Toby Keith might have serenaded mockingly, as fans of other drivers piled out the exits.

As Keith's song goes, so does the ice cream sundae (or should it have been saturdae) that Greg Biffle has become.  There's only so long we could ignore him before we're forced to acknowledge that he's more impressive than we give him credit for. After a disappointing 2011, in which he missed his first Chase in four years, Biffle has returned to fight Matt Kenseth for the role of least dislikable Chase driver.

Think about it.  How many people truly dislike vanilla ice cream?  Very few, perhaps the same few that dislike Greg Biffle.  While fans of other drivers can argue until they're blue in the face about their likes or dislikes for certain drivers, most would probably be stuck for words in finding a way to dislike Biffle.

He might be changing that this year, however.  If there's something that nobody else's fans like, it's someone that wins too much.  Do you really think the majority of New England would hate the Yankees if they lost all the time?  Were there really a lot of people in the rest of the country that hated the Patriots before Brady and Belichick started crushing the NFL?  Would fans be so opposed to Jimmie Johnson if his nickname was "Zero-Time"?

Biffle looks like he intends to ramp it up this season.  He already has four top-fives in seven races and he did more that just win at TMS, he passed Johnson late and left him in his dust.  While the No. 48 is not the reigning champ for the first time in six years, he's still not someone that many drivers are able to make look slow.

So, take note Jimmie Johnson fans and Dale Junior fans and Jeff Gordon fans and Tony Stewart fans and fans of any other driver, Greg Biffle is dominating your driver in standings this season.  He might have looked like a plain cup of vanilla ice cream at the start of the season, but he's added a lot of toppings and he seems prepared to keep adding more, whether you like them or not!