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Biffle Secures Victory, Points Lead In Michigan

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, August 19 2012

Greg Biffle took the checkered flag at Michigan on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Brian Lawdermilk)


Greg Biffle took the race lead with six laps to go when the engine of front-runner Jimmie Johnson let go. Once out front, Biffle easily went on to win the Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

The victory was the second of the season for the Roush Fenway Racing driver and it moved him to the series points lead.

Brad Keselowski of Penske Racing finished second.

Third and fourth were Hendrick Motorsports drivers Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Marcos Ambrose of Richard Petty Motorsports, the winner a week ago at Watkins Glen International, was fifth.

Keselowski beat Johnson out of the pits on the final stop of the day and had the lead on the subsequent restart with 14 laps to go.

Those two broke free of the field.

With 10 laps to go, Johnson went low, moved even and then cleared Keselowski for the lead. Quickly following Johnson past Keselowski was Biffle.

By the time Biffle made that pass on Keselowski, Johnson had a sizable lead.

With six laps to go, however, Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports engine let go and Biffle quickly blew past for the lead.

Biffle was asked if he could have won had Johnson’s engine held together for a couple more laps.

“Well, I thought that I knew I would be able to get him then,” Biffle said. “I was closing in on him 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. I found some speed in the top line down there in three and four and was coming on him. I don’t know if I would have got there but we will take them any way we can get them. We had a damn good car today.”

Greg Biffle moved to the points lead on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

The blown engine brought out a final caution. On the restart, Biffle and Keselowski started side by side on the front row. Biffle held the lead into Turn 1 and over the next two laps, Keselowski was unable to take it away.

“Junior (Earnhardt) gave me a huge push for that win,” Biffle said of the final restart. “I have to thank him for that. I saw Brad laying back like always and he got a little jump on me. It probably would have been leveled out by turn one.”

Biffle will head to Bristol for the next race with a 20-point lead over second-place Matt Kenseth, his Roush Fenway teammate.

Johnson, who started the day as points-leader, sunk to fourth

Rounding out the top 10 at MIS were Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard and Martin Truex Jr.

Edwards, still looking for his first win of the year, said, “We just had a lot of fortune there to get the opportunity on the last restart to make it happen. I am glad a Ford is in victory lane. It is big for Greg to win here and Jack and everyone. It is big for Ford, they deserve this. We showed everyone we could do it. We were as fast or faster than Greg was the whole second half of the race. It is just a matter of getting it done now.”

A former multi-time champion who started the race on shaky Chase ground, ended the race on shakier ground – also because of engine trouble.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Jeff Gordon, who has one victory on the season and, at 15th in points, needed a good finish, if not a victory to improve his playoff hopes, blew his engine on lap 94.

Tony Stewart, also using a Hendrick engine, also had engine failure.

“A valve spring, just running along there and all of a sudden dropped a cylinder,” Gordon, who sunk to 16th in points, said. “I was pretty sure that’s what it was. Of course the No. 14 had that same issue got our fingers crossed for all the other Hendrick engines out there. This is a tough place on engines. We rarely have these issues and it’s unfortunate to have this one here today. It’s the kind of year we have been having. I was hoping after Pocono we could carry some momentum and not have these kinds of back-to-back weekends, but that’s not the case. We go on to Bristol and fight hard there.”

The scariest moment of the race occurred on lap 65 and involved Michael Waltrip Racing’s Mark Martin. Martin, who led 54 laps up to that point, got caught behind a spinning Bobby Labonte. When Martin slowed, he was hit from behind and sent into the infield near pit in. His car got sideways and just as it did, it slammed the end of a pit wall. The wall deeply penetrated the car just behind the driver’s seat.

Martin was unhurt but undoubtedly lucky.

(This story will be updated shortly)

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, August 19 2012
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