Biffle scores Fontana victory

Biffle scores Fontana victory

Greg Biffle cruised to his fourth Cup series career victory at California Speedway Sunday. Biffle took the lead of the event on lap 228 and steered the No. 16 Roush Ford to victory lane virtually unchallenged. Victory lane: race winner...

Greg Biffle cruised to his fourth Cup series career victory at California Speedway Sunday. Biffle took the lead of the event on lap 228 and steered the No. 16 Roush Ford to victory lane virtually unchallenged.

Victory lane: race winner Greg Biffle celebrates.
Photo by Autostock.
"I was just way, way too free there at the end," said Biffle. "We had the fastest car on the race track, but just not right there at the end. We adjusted for being back in traffic. We got the lead due to some guys pitting. I tell you what, these guys worked really hard on the car.

"I drove my butt off today."

Biffle had to claw his way to the front after dropping to 30th place twice during the race. A decision to stay out on a round of service stops speeded up Biffle's march to the front.

"I came from 30th twice," said Biffle. "I had to pass every car and earn it. That's why I freed the car up so much is because I was back in that traffic. Then when I got back out front it was so dang loose that I couldn't drive it. But we were able to hang onto it. That's a big credit to these guys and everybody that works on these race cars."

Jimmie Johnson made a late-race pass on Kurt Busch to grab second. Johnson had to battle back to the front after crew chief Chad Knaus made a decision to make a gas only pit stop.

"Man, I wanted to win at home so bad," said Johnson. "We put out all of our effort there at the end. We came close, but we'll come back and hopefully get in here again in my home state later this year. We got out of sequence. We did a fuel only. I put the thought in Chad's mind. He did the fuel only. We suffered pretty bad from it. And then on that restart, we started off in 10th or so and got in a battle with a bunch of lapped cars and fighting for position and knocked me up in the marbles and I had to start over.

"I was surprised I even got back up to where I did."

In the end, Johnson was able to rebound to earn his second top-five result of the year.

"If we had another lap maybe we could have gotten past the 16," said Johnson. "Just great to be here in my home state and it is a great start to our season."

Busch and the No. 97 Ford team had to settle for third. Busch led the race several times but just did not have the power at the end to hold off his teammate or the No. 48 car.

"We had a great run." said Busch. "Racing with my teammate, that's what you dream about. That's what you want. You want to race Greg Biffle, who is a teammate, and put it all out on the line and that's what we did."

It's a great start to the reigning series champions' season. A second place at Daytona and a third place here has made him the frontrunner in Cup rankings.

"It's way too early," said Busch of the points. "It's a great start for our team. He's (Johnson) the favorite and we are the defending champions. It's going to be great fun for us."

Jamie McMurray and Carl Edwards complete the top five.

"It gives us a lot of confidence," said Edwards. "It gives me as a driver a lot of confidence. It is different leading these races. It's one thing to follow these guys and change your line a little bit from theirs, but it's another thing to be the guy out front with them chasing you.

"I'm learning a little bit and I'm just glad to be here. It's cool to see this many folks in the grandstand. We had a good time."

Kyle Busch brought the field to the green flag and traded the top spot with teammate Brian Vickers until Greg Biffle motored past them both to grab the lead.

Biffle led through lap 24 when the first caution flag was displayed when Bill Elliott hit the wall in turn one after a right side tire went down. The No. 45 Dodge of Kyle Petty did not pit and inherited the lead of the event.

Petty, however, pitted before the course went green giving the lead to the No. 34 Chevy of Randy LaJoie (who also did not pit) followed by the serviced cars of Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Joe Nemechek and Carl Edwards.

LaJoie could not hold off the cars behind him on four fresh tires and the No. 17 Ford of Kenseth easily sailed past for the top spot. Kenseth led until teammate Carl Edwards battled him for the lad and won on lap 47.

Edwards led when the second yellow emerged when the No. 8 Chevy of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. saw his second left front tire of the day disintegrate. Earnhardt lost the first tire on lap 37 and went a lap down, and some 20 laps later he experienced the same problem seeing him fall four laps down.

After pit stops cycled through, Kenseth once again assumed the lead on lap 64, but teammate Edwards overtook the No. 17 and the teammates traded the top spot several times before Edwards was shuffled back perching Kenseth atop the field.

Green flag pit stops commenced on lap 106 but a caution flag waved for debris in the middle of the cycle trapping many cars a lap down. The leaders came in for service under yellow on lap 109, and when all was said and done Nemechek's team beat Kenseth off pit road to earn the lead.

Nemechek led until lap 142 when the caution was displayed after the No. 07 Chevy smacked the wall in turn four. After a round of pit stops Nemechek held the front of the pack.

The fifth caution unfurled on lap 160, when Kasey Kahne knocked the No. 9 Dodge into the turn three wall. The leaders once again came in for service but this time Johnson beat Nemechek off first assuming the top spot.

Johnson, however, only led one lap before Nemechek wheeled past the No. 48 to find the front. Nemechek led until the No. 01 dropped a cylinder on lap 179 and began to freefall through the grid. He finally brought his ride behind the wall a few laps later.

Nemechek's early exit opened the window for the No. 99 Ford of Edwards to steal the front spot. Edwards led until 194 when the RCR Chevy of Kevin Harvick powered past for the lead.

on lap 203, the yellow flag came out when the No. 15 of Michael Waltrip blew an engine. The yellow flag came after a long green flag run re- bunching the field and bringing the leaders to pit road for the final time.

Harvick retained the lead after service stops when the field went back to green on lap 209. The yellow came out again on lap 217 when Jason Leffler blew an engine in the No. 11 Chevy.

Several cars pitted but teammates Busch, Biffle and Martin stayed out to grab the top three spots. The field went green with 29 to go, Busch led until Biffle powered by the 97 Ford on lap 228.

Biffle led unchallenged to earn his first win at California Speedway.

Kurt Busch takes the lead in Nextel Cup series points. Jimmie Johnson (-5), Mark Martin (-39), Carl Edwards (-53), Greg Biffle (-67), Elliott Sadler (- 68), Tony Stewart (-72), Rusty Wallace (-72), Sterling Marlin (-80) and Jeff Gordon (-82) complete the top ten in points.

Notably, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. falls 11 spots to 14th in points, 103-markers behind the leader after finishing 32nd in the event.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Jason Leffler , Kyle Petty , Joe Nemechek , Greg Biffle , Sterling Marlin , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Kasey Kahne , Brian Vickers , Carl Edwards , Elliott Sadler , Chad Knaus , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin