It's hard to imagine the turning point for Greg Biffle's season came at a track where he finished 35th. But even though his No. 16 Ford blew an engine that weekend, what happened at Chicagoland Speedway seemed to be the catalyst for a complete turnaround for the entire Roush Fenway Racing organization.
"If you look at before and after those dates ... before Chicago, the whole company was horrible, and after, the whole company was good," Biffle said at Homestead.
Borrowing from fellow Ford teams at Richard Petty Motorsports, Roush cars ran up front all day, with Carl Edwards, David Ragan and Matt Kenseth all finishing in the top 15. Biffle might have as well, if not for losing an engine early in the second half of the race.
From that point on, it seemed Biffle was a threat to win nearly every weekend. He led 38 laps and finished third at Indianapolis, then followed that up with a victory at Pocono, his first win in almost two years. He won again at Kansas, and had the car to beat at Texas before he suffered drive train issues late in the race and struggled to get up to speed on restarts.
With three consecutive top-10 finishes to finish out the year, giving him a total of 19 -- just two shy of his career best -- Biffle has his sights firmly set on 2011. How optimistic is he?
"I think we're gonna be five spots better, and I think we can win two or three times as many as we did this year -- maybe four, five or six wins," Biffle said.
If there's a strong suit for Biffle, it's intermediate tracks. Not only did one of his wins come on a 1.5-mile oval, but he ran up front nearly every time one popped up on the schedule.
"We excel at every mile and a half [track]," Biffle said. "You can ask yourself why that is, but I don't have any idea. It has been a phenomenon of ours forever. We run really good at mile and a halfs. There isn't one that we don't run good at, if you look back at it."
Biffle started off the season with six consecutive top-10 finishes, which gave his team a bit of a cushion when it struggled during the early part of the summer. And when things turned around at the end of July, Biffle carried tremendous momentum into the Chase.
In fact, a number of experts picked him to unseat Johnson as the champion. Unfortunately, Biffle couldn't carry enough of that momentum to last him throughout the Chase.
Even though he won twice in 2010, Biffle felt his victory total could have been easily doubled if not for mechanical issues.
"We had Texas won, hands down, and had drive train issues," he said. "We were on our way to maybe winning Chicago when our engine blew up."
After his win at Kansas, Biffle was just 85 points out of the lead. But another blown engine one week later at Fontana left him with a 41st-place finish, effectively eliminating him from championship contention. But he still believed his car was as strong over the final 10 races as those of Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick.
"I think we could [have been] there if we wouldn't have had some stupid stuff happen to our cars," Biffle said.
Biffle hasn't won more than two races in a season since 2005, when he scored six victories and finished second in the points to Tony Stewart. That's also the last time somebody other than Johnson took home the trophy from the season-ending banquet.
And based on the way he ran in the second half of the season, Biffle may have every right to think he can equal or better what he did five years ago.
"Our cars are really fast right now and have been ever since Chicago, ever since we kind of copied the RPM cars," Biffle said. "As long as we don't screw that up, I feel good about 2011.
"[I see] lot of exciting things for 2011, I think, with maybe four or five wins and maybe a run for the title, I hope."