Greg Biffle raced to victory in the Quicken Loans 400 at the Michigan International Speedway on Sunday afternoon. The fastest speedster on the fast two-mile oval led 48 laps en route to his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the season and the 19th of his accomplished career.
The victor drove the 3M/Give Kids a Smile Ford.
With the victory, Ford Motor Company’s racing division took its 1,000th win in NASCAR competition.
Jim Roper scored the very first NASCAR-sanctioned with in a Lincoln in 1949. Since then, Ford has earned 20 manufacturer titles and 13 driver champions in NASCAR”S top three series. Henry Ford took the first checkered flag for the manufacturer in 1901 – 112 years ago.
Said Biffle about his fourth win at MIS, “It is a pretty special day for us and for Ford. Also, this is my daughter Emma’s first day in victory lane. The race was a hard-fought battle; it wasn’t easy. I kept working on this car, and the guys did a great job with flawless pit stops. We beat the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) team today, and that says a lot. He was really fast but once we got out in clean air, we could match up well with the No. 48. He made a small mistake trying to catch us.”
Concerning the final caution flag, Biffle said he had a lump in his throat but managed to take advantage of the Johnson entry. “That’s why we race every weekend to see who takes advantage of the luck of the draw, and we made the right decisions today. We started up front and when they told me the No. 48 was 10th, I knew he had his work cut out for him, and we were able to beat him that way.
“Once my Ford Fusion gets out in clean air, it will really set sail. I knew (Kevin) Harvick was taking it easy on his tires, and I didn’t think he could hang with me for 25 laps, and then came the Johnson car.”
Taking second was Kevin Harvick and earning third was Martin Truex Jr.
“I was pretty nervous when we finished practice yesterday,” Harvick said after climbing out of his Budweiser Chevrolet. “Those guys did a good job of talking through everything, as they always do. My team kept me in the game, and we made solid decisions and pit stops with a car that probably couldn’t have run in the top-10 yesterday,” Harvick said. “It was one of those days when you had to survive, and you had to try and keep track position and manage your tires. It was one of those races where you had to manage numerous amounts of things to keep yourself in it.”
Truex thought his Toyota was improved over that from a week ago and was happy with the outcome. “All in all we had a good day, and if the guys can keep continuing giving me awesome racecars and we can keep being consistent, this is what we need to do to keep on improving,” he said. “We were definitely competitive today.”
Fourth and fifth were Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart.
“We had a good race car, and we kept making good adjustments,” Busch said, who also emphasized the speeds being turned on the rapid track. “You have to be tough mentally and physically to bring it through the field.’
Said Stewart, “We got a lot of luck at the end, but we will definitely take it. We weren’t very good all weekend, and I had a big mistake on Friday.”
Rounding out the top-10 were Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards and Jeff Burton.
Danica Patrick drove consistently to gain a 13th place finish.
In points, Johnson leads Edwards by 11 with Bowyer 49 back and Harvick 62 behind. Kenseth holds down fifth over Kyle Busch, Earnhardt, Biffle, Brad Keselowski and Stewart.
Kasey Kahne dropped fourth spots to 12th.
Johnson had a front position nailed down until scraping the wall in the final laps. He ended up 28th.
“It was definitely disappointing,” he said. “We had a great car that came through the pack multiple times. We just couldn’t get the strategy right. I hate missing out on this opportunity, and I feel like one got away from us today.”
Teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kahne and Jeff Gordon also suffered hard luck, ending up in tail end of field. Earnhardt was scored 37th, Kahne 38th and Gordon 39th.
Wrecks took out early contender Kurt Busch and Gordon and while each returned to action, they were far back in the field.
Said Gordon, “Bobby Labonte just lost it over there in Turn 2. He just did one of those slow spins where I couldn’t tell which direction he was going to go, so I had to guess and I guessed the wrong way. I just can’t believe the way this season is going for us in this Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet. It seems like we can run all day long when we can’t get the car right but when we finally get the car right, something like this happens.”
Like many of the NASCAR drivers, Biffle posted on his twitter account after the loss of Jason Leffler: "(My) Thoughts and prayers are with son Charley and the Leffler family on a day after a terrible crash took the life of a great person. RIP Jason”