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