Biffle Notches A No-Doubt Victory At Kansas
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Kansas City, Kan. – The Roush Fenway Racing driver took the lead on lap 206 of the 267-lap Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft, kept it during a final round of green flag pits stop with 237 laps to go and held it to the end.
Biffle beat second-place Jimmie Johnson by over 7 seconds, giving him his second victory of the year and his first in the Chase. He led 60 laps.
Best car he’s ever had, Biffle said.
“Once we got our car adjusted we were off and set sail,” Biffle said. “The thing was really fast. I didn’t think even if there were more cautions that they would catch us. I was even saving a little bit out there at the end.”
Johnson assumed the points lead with his finish as pre-race leader Denny Hamlin finished 12th. Johnson heads to Auto Club Speedway next week eight points ahead of Hamlin.
“It just didn’t work today,” Hamlin, whose average finish at Kansas heading into the race was 19th, said. “The way we ran here today is not indicative of how we are capable of running. We’re a strong enough team where we can figure things out. We’ll go to work on Monday and figure out what we need to do.”
Johnson was happy but realistic about his points lead.
“It’s a great position to be in,” Johnson, seeking his fifth straight championship, said of the point lead, “but it’s way too early to think about it, to worry about defending. You have Chase guys running so good every week.”
Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus, said, “It’s cool but come see me after Talladega. If we got it (the points lead) after Talladega, we’ll be happy.
“Going into Fontana next week you basically take the board, flip it over and start all over again.”
Early on, it did not look good for Johnson. He qualified just 21st fastest and for 60 or so laps showed no signs of improving on that. But after a couple pit stops, his crew started improving his car.
“You just can’t put your guard down,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s qualifying or the race. Until that checkered flag falls at Homestead, it’s anybody’s championship.”
Biffle jumped from ninth to eight in points – 101 out of the lead.
Kevin Harivck, the pre-Chase points leader who had qualified 24th, finished third Sunday and now trails Johnson by 30 points.
Tony Stewart, who led a race-best 76 laps, faded over the final laps and finished fourth.
“I couldn’t take off on restarts,” Stewart said. “I couldn’t get going in traffic. My car kind of sat up on the top of the track and took a little bit to go.”
Jeff Gordon was fifth and Carl Edwards was sixth.
“This track has been good to us,” Gordon, a two-time winner at Kansas, said. “We were hoping for a little bit more with the way things went all weekend long.”
Gordon led three times for 29 laps. He is fifth in points, 58 behind his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Johnson.
Edwards, who said he wants to win at his home track of Kansas more than he wants to win the Daytona 500, was initially disappointed with his finish.
“I was frustrated with sixth but now I find out we are only 53 points out of the lead so that is huge,” Edwards said. “It was a good day for us from a points perspective.”
Eleven of the 12 drivers in the Chase are within 149 points of the lead.
Biffle won the Kansas race in 2007 – at least he, his team and, most importantly, NASCAR thought so. Several others did not.
Biffle was running low on fuel in the darknes-s and weather-shortened race when the caution waved. Biffle lined up behind the pace car, which was going 55 mph. But as the field came out of the final turn under yellow, Biffle slowed. He slowed so much that Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson passed him just before the finish line.
Bowyer said that he should have been given the victory because Biffle could not keep pace because of low fuel. Johnson agreed.
NASCAR did not agree. And now, Biffle joins Gordon and Stewart as two-time Kansas winners.
Instead of having to beat a draining fuel tank to get the victory this time, he had to beat his fear of change.
“I was just reluctant to adjust on the car,” Biffle said. “You know, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it kind of attitude.
“I didn’t want them to stick the wedge wrench through the window and starting turning on it.”
Biffle finally agree to some adjustments and they paid off with the victory.
“The car picked up a tenth (of a second), a tenth and a half a lap. I put another wedge in it when we did the next set of tires and the thing was faster yet…I had confidence after those two pits stops, after making those adjustments, that that car was going to be pretty hard to beat.”
It was impossible to beat.
– Jim Pedley can be reached at email@example.comNo Comment