Bif­fle mov­ing on af­ter 19 sea­sons

Baltimore Sun - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - — Ge­orge Diaz

Greg Bif­fle has parted ways am­i­ca­bly with Roush Fen­way Rac­ing af­ter 19 sea­sons. The divorce is not sur­pris­ing, given the dy­nam­ics on that team.

Bif­fle joins the list of tal­ented driv­ers — namely, Matt Kenseth and Carl Ed­wards — who have split in re­cent years from that team be­cause of bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties and com­pet­i­tive­ness is­sues.

Bif­fle isn’t ex­actly an A-lis­ter in Cup terms, but he has won ti­tles in the Camp­ing World and Xfin­ity Se­ries. The fact is he wasn’t go­ing to win a Cup ti­tle rac­ing for Jack Roush. The num­bers don’t lie: Bif­fle hasn’t won since 2013 and fin­ished 20th and 23rd the last two sea­sons.

“We’ve had an in­cred­i­ble run and I am so ap­pre­cia­tive for the op­por­tu­nity to be a part of Roush Fen­way,” Bif­fle said. “I’m ex­tremely proud of ev­ery­thing we have been able to ac­com­plish over the last 19 years — both on and off the track. I’ve en­joyed ev­ery minute.”

He needs to go chas­ing speed some­where else. Clint Bowyer will leave HS­cott Mo­tor­sports to race for Ste­wart-Haas Rac­ing, but Bif­fle’s first op­tion shouldn’t be to look for a team that sim­ply doesn’t have the horses to com­pete for a ti­tle.

File this one un­der TBA, and happy trails to one of the good guys in the garage. State of NASCAR: It’s never a good look when a top sports ex­ec­u­tive holds a news con­fer­ence and is la­beled “de­fen­sive” and “in­dig­nant.”

Un­for­tu­nately f or NASCAR Chair­man and CEO Brian France, his an­nual “state of the union” ad­dress to the me­dia de­volved into some­thing more than a jovial and Greg Bif­fle says he has “en­joyed ev­ery minute” at Roush Fen­way Rac­ing. in­for­ma­tive Q&A.

France took a com­bat­ive stance while fend­ing off ques­tions about his en­dorse­ment of Don­ald Trump and sag­ging at­ten­dance at races, pref­ac­ing both an­swers with, “Let me stop you.”

Re­gard­ing Trump, France shifted the fo­cus to the sport’s ef­forts to pro­mote greater di­ver­sity on the track and at other lev­els of the sport.

“First of all, no­body wants to hear my po­lit­i­cal views. So I won’t be talk­ing about that,” France said.

Eye­balls — in per­son and on TV — have been is­sues as well. Sun­day’s race had a 3.3 overnight rat­ing on NBC — down 25 per­cent from l ast year ( 4.4). NASCAR does not re­lease at­ten­dance fig­ures, but anec­do­tal ev­i­dence sug­gests these num­bers are down too.

“The au­di­ence isn’t go­ing away at all,” France said. “It’s slid­ing to dif­fer­ent places, con­sum­ing in dif­fer­ent ways. ... Our dig­i­tal con­sump­tion is off the charts.”

JOHN RAOUX/AP

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