As far as special paint schemes go, this one was right on the money for Greg Biffle. With superhero The Flash on his car, Biffle led a race-high 73 laps and sprinted out to a dominant win in the GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan International ...
As far as special paint schemes go, this one was right on the money for Greg Biffle.
With superhero The Flash on his car, Biffle led a race-high 73 laps and sprinted out to a dominant win in the GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Biffle started 24th and quickly made his way to the front. He took the lead for the first time when he passed teammate Kurt Busch on lap 43. He was the leader again when green flag stops cycled through with 30 laps to go and jumped out to a seven-second lead on his way to the checkered flag.
It was Biffle's first win of the season and second of his Nextel Cup career. He has three top-10 finishes in the past four races.
"I didn't make any mistakes, which is pretty unusual for me," said Biffle, who won the July Daytona race as a rookie last July. "I'm real excited about it. Flash on the car -- the fastest man alive -- I think I'm going to wear this driver's suit (next week) at Bristol. Maybe it will bring me good luck.
"My car was really, really fast right when the green flag fell," said Biffle, whose radio didn't work early in the race. "Those cautions at the beginning were good for us. I was able to adjust the car early."
Mark Martin led 46 of the first 130 laps and then rebounded from a pit road penalty with 66 laps to go to finish second.
Martin received a penalty for a missing lug nut during a yellow-flag stop on lap 132. Crew chief Pat Tryson vehemently debated the penalty with the pit road official, but Martin was forced to come back in and restarted at the back of the field.
Martin marched his way back through the field and jumped up to second when he took two tires on his final green flag pit stop with 25 laps remaining.
"This is the best team in the business," said Martin, who made up eight positions in the final 44 laps. "We're all in this thing together. We just didn't have the tires to get the job done (at the end). We gave it our best shot to try to come back from the back of the pack."
Dale Jarrett took third for the second time at MIS in two months, while Jamie McMurray and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top five.
Jimmie Johnson lost the points lead to teammate Jeff Gordon after failing to finish for the third straight week. Gordon and Johnson started on the front row after qualifying was rained out and the starting field was set by owner's points. Gordon quickly distanced himself from the field before losing the lead under the first of a race-record nine cautions. Gordon finished seventh and left Michigan with a 68-point lead with three races left before the Chase for the Championship.
"It doesn't matter if you're in the points lead right now," Gordon admitted. "I just hate it for Jimmie and those guys that had trouble today. If it were more significant, I'd be excited about it. It's about leading this thing at the end of those 10 races."
Johnson dropped back to 10th through 50 laps before his engine quit on lap 83. It's the fifth time this season that he has failed to finish a race.
"I'm glad it's a freak deal but we just can't have any more of these," Johnson said from the garage. "The (points) system works in our favor right now and we just can't have any more of this. We'll get it back -- this team is way too good."
Kahne was looking for another strong finish at MIS to follow up his second-place run in June. He cut a left front tire on the third lap and spun through Turn 3. He rebounded and took the lead from Biffle on lap 137 and ended up with his third top-5 in the past four races. The team was racing with heavy hearts after the death of crew chief Tommy Baldwin Jr.'s father on Thursday.
"The team did a great job," said Kahne, who flipped teammate Jeremy Mayfield out of the 10th spot in the standings. "They really did approach it like a normal race. I think Tommy did an awesome job this weekend. The whole team pulled together for Tommy and I'm sure his dad would have been proud."
All five Roush Racing Fords finished in the top-10. Kurt Busch led four laps and finished fifth while Matt Kenseth finished eighth and Carl Edwards claimed a 10th place finish in his Nextel Cup debut.
"I am so excited because of our strong performance today," Edwards gushed. "This is a victory for our team. If you asked me earlier, I though we'd finish around 20th, but to get a top-10 finish here is a wonderful moment for us."
"We're very proud of our cars," said team-owner Jack Roush, a Michigan native. "They were well prepared. The crew chiefs did a great job and the engines ran flawlessly."
Ryan Newman's hopes of winning his third straight race at MIS took a hit early when he had a flat tire before taking the green flag. He came in for a replacement, but had to start at the back of the field. He came in again for tires on lap 16 and lost a lap to the leaders.
"We knew we were capable of more today," Newmand said after the race. "We fought through overheating twice. We cut a valve cap on pit road and it cut the tire down to the cord, so we changed tires before the green flag ever dropped and went to the back. Just to come back from things like that, going back to the tail end three times and coming home 14th it was a good day for us."
Newman had Superman on his rear quarter panels as part of a promotion for the Justice League of America, but he was anything but super throughout the weekend. The #12 car was more than half a second off the pace in Happy Hour on Saturday. Newman received the "Lucky Dog" pass back onto the lead lap twice during the race and finished 14th.
Jeff Burton's debut in Richard Childress' #30 Chevy got off to a slow start. He came to a complete stop on the front stretch during the warm-up laps, but got the car rolling again and worked his way up to a 12th place finish.
"We're going to do better than that I hope, but that's a good start for us," Burton said after the race. "We need to be a little more consistent, but we made it our best when it counted and that's not a bad start."
Rusty Wallace was enjoying a strong run before a broken valve spring took him out on lap 110. Wallace, who leads all active drivers with five win at MIS and was among the fastest cars in practice, started 18th and worked his way into the top-5 midway through the race. It was his third DNF of the season.
"We don't know what went wrong," Wallace explained. "The car was running great and handling great. We were third and at times we had the fastest car in the field, by far the fastest car I've had all year long."