Race Report: Biffle Victory at Michigan

Greg Biffle

RACER/AUTOSPORT – Greg Biffle claimed his second NASCAR Sprint Cup win of the season by holding off Brad Keselowski in a green-white-checkered finish at Michigan.

Roush Fenway racer Biffle inherited the lead six laps from the end when leader Jimmie Johnson slowed down with an engine problem, one of three similar issues for Hendrick Motorsports during the race.

Keselowski put the pressure on Biffle on the final restart after the caution for Johnson, but the Penske driver could not quite regain the lead he previously held until being overtaken by Johnson with 10 laps remaining.

Biffle led 24 of 201 laps on the way to his third victory at Michigan, the home track for car owner Jack Roush, where the team had not won for the past four years.

“I was closing in on [Johnson] and I don’t know if I would have got him in those eight laps or not but it would have been a hell of a run to the end,” said Biffle.

Keselowski’s pace in clean air after staying out longer than his rivals before the final stop, plus a quick two-tire change while topping up with fuel, allowed him to jump Johnson once the last stops cycled through. However he conceded he did not have enough pace to keep the five-time champion behind him.

“The 48 was a dominant car,” said Keselowski. “I think he was a good one to two tenths faster than we were and that’s pretty significant in Cup these days. His team has done a great job finding speed and my team is doing a great job executing.”

Johnson had started from the back of the field following an unscheduled engine change on Saturday after he had qualified third. First to hit trouble among those powered by Hendrick Motorsports was Tony Stewart, while Jeff Gordon also had to go to the garage with his unit down on power.

Kasey Kahne’s engine survived the distance and he finished third ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who led for 24 laps after starting from the back, having switched to a back-up car for the race after crashing his primary one shortly before the end of final practice.

Carl Edwards was sixth and remains outside those eligible for a Chase spot and in need of a crucial first win of this year. Kahne and Stewart-Haas’ Ryan Newman remain those in position to claim the wildcard spots for the playoff series.

Polesitter Mark Martin led the most laps but finished his race on lap 65 in a scary crash against one of the pit wall openings. The concrete barrier penetrated the side of the car right behind the driver’s seat, while Kahne’s crew members were also lucky to escape getting hit by Martin’s car.

The Michael Waltrip Racing veteran was leading the race at the time when Bobby Labonte spun ahead of him, causing those behind to take evasive action.

Results - 201 laps:

Pos  Driver              Team/Car                         Time/Gap
 1.  Greg Biffle         Roush Fenway Ford            2h46m44.000s
 2.  Brad Keselowski     Penske Dodge                     + 0.416s
 3.  Kasey Kahne         Hendrick Chevrolet               + 0.456s
 4.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Hendrick Chevrolet               + 1.189s
 5.  Marcos Ambrose      Petty Ford                       + 1.627s
 6.  Carl Edwards        Roush Fenway Ford                + 2.015s
 7.  Clint Bowyer        Waltrip Toyota                   + 2.203s
 8.  Ryan Newman         Stewart-Haas Chevrolet           + 2.579s
 9.  Paul Menard         Childress Chevrolet              + 2.688s
10.  Martin Truex Jr     Waltrip Toyota                   + 2.853s
11.  Denny Hamlin        Joe Gibbs Toyota                 + 3.386s
12.  Sam Hornish Jr      Penske Dodge                     + 4.027s
13.  Kyle Busch          Joe Gibbs Toyota                 + 4.502s
14.  Jamie McMurray      Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet      + 4.523s
15.  Travis Kvapil       BK Toyota                        + 4.697s
16.  Kevin Harvick       Childress Chevrolet              + 4.794s
17.  Matt Kenseth        Roush Fenway Ford                + 5.149s
18.  David Gilliland     Front Row Ford                   + 5.559s
19.  Jeff Burton         Childress Chevrolet              + 5.669s
20.  Aric Almirola       Petty Ford                       + 6.214s
21.  David Reutimann     Baldwin Chevrolet                 + 1 lap
22.  Bobby Labonte       JTG Daugherty Toyota             + 2 laps
23.  David Ragan         Front Row Ford                   + 2 laps
24.  Trevor Bayne        Wood Brothers Ford               + 2 laps
25.  Landon Cassill      BK Toyota                        + 3 laps
26.  Juan Pablo Montoya  Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet      + 4 laps
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