Biffle challenges, but Obrist wins at Tucson

TUCSON, Ariz. (Dec. 14, 1998) Greg Biffle went from tuxedo to firesuit like he was Superman in a phone booth Sunday, competing in the NASCAR Winter Heat Tucson 200 only hours after receiving awards for Cintas Rookie of the Year and eighth place at the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Awards Banquet. But it was Mike Obrist's day in the cars, as he charged from 27th starting position to post the win at Tucson Raceway Park. "This has been one of our biggest goals," Obrist said. "I couldn't have done this without the crew." Obrist, of Portland, Ore., persevered through six caution periods and two red flags, including one that saw Biffle, from Vancouver, Wash., and then-race leader Marc Groskreutz of Spokane, Wash., collide going into Turn 3 on lap 90, precipitating a multi-car pileup. Groskreutz hung on for second, despite heavy car damage. Biffle's team tried as best as it could but couldn't get him back on the track. During Biffle's heated battle for the lead, he and Groskreutz raced nose to tail as Biffle made several attempts to take the lead using the inside line. But Groskreutz held his line and stayed in the lead. By lap 52 Groskreutz and Biffle were still battling it out. Tom Sweatman of Cosmopolis, Wash., was in third, with Vernon and Jason Schneider of St. Louis Park, Minn., racing for fourth, when officials brought out the red flag. After the mid-way break Groskreutz, Schneider and Obrist were in a tight battle for the top three positions. By lap 113 Obrist had made his way up to the second position by getting around Schneider using the inside line in turn two. By lap 118, Obrist had made his way up to Groskreutz' bumper and attempted to get around the leader coming out of turn four but was unsuccessful. Another caution period one lap later made for an anxious field coming around to take the green flag. Obrist put the pressure on Groskreutz and then passed him for the lead coming out of Turn 2 on lap 127. Obrist remained strong and continued to be consistent. Groskreutz didn't give up the lead easily and stayed right behind Obrist. By lap 140, Obrist had extended his lead to an eight-car-length advantage over Groskreutz. Sweatman had moved up to the third position again with Schneider and Huebner rounding out the top-five. Sweatman had just began to close on Obrist for the lead with Groskreutz in third when Huebner got into trouble in Turn 2, bringing out another red flag. Obrist continued to hold his line in front and went on to take the checkered flag ahead of Groskreutz, who passed Sweatman for second with four laps to go. Wayne Cassidy of Tucson was fourth and TRP regular Chuck Wares of Tucson rounded out the top-five. Obrist transferred to the main event from the B-Main and said maintaining the status quo was key, saying "We didn't make changes after the B-main or at the midway point. We just used the same car with two new tires and we did it." Groskreutz, who heavily damaged car didn't lose much speed, seemed pleased with his second place, saying, "We were just short track racing. I got loose and then I'd pace myself with him to hold him. Then, when the oil was down, I lost it -- I was concentrating on Biffle." NASCAR Winter Heat continues Sunday with the second NASCAR Late Model event as the Winston Challenge Triple Crown Series battle continues. Gates open at 9 a.m. and racing starts at 11 a.m. Admission is $10 for adults. Children 11 and under are free. Practice and qualifying for this event will be held on Saturday, when admission is only $5 for adults. Gates are open from noon to 5 p.m.

Source: NASCAR Online