Biffle holds on to win again at Michigan
By NOAH TRISTER
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | June 17,2013
Sprint Cup Series driver Greg Biffle holds his daughter Emma Elizabeth and stands next to his wife Nicole Lunders after winning the NASCAR Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway Sunday in Brooklyn, Mich.
BROOKLYN, Mich. — Greg Biffle gave Ford a milestone victory — right down the road from company headquarters.
Biffle raced to his second straight Sprint Cup win at Michigan International Speedway, easily holding off Kevin Harvick after points leader Jimmie Johnson smacked the wall in the final laps Sunday. It was the 1,000th victory for Ford Motor Company across NASCAR’s three national series — Cup, Nationwide and Truck.
“What a great moment this is,” said Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing. “We couldn’t be prouder to have this moment come here today at Michigan in front of so many of our Ford friends. What a great race and a great day for Ford.”
It was Biffle’s first win since he overtook Johnson to win at MIS in August. Johnson’s engine faltered with six laps left in that race. This time, he was about a second behind Biffle with three laps to go — but a tire give way, and he dropped all the way to 28th.
“I don’t want to see anybody wreck,” Biffle said. “It makes you feel good when you push the guy over the edge. He made a mistake, and that’s what makes you feel good. You outsmarted him, or you beat him at his game.”
Harvick was second, 3 seconds behind Biffle. Martin Truex Jr. was next, followed by Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart.
Johnson wasn’t the only big name who ran into trouble. Jeff Gordon was out of contention almost immediately when he hit a spinning Bobby Labonte less than 10 laps into the 200-lap, 400-mile race. Gordon finished 39th, one spot behind Kasey Kahne, who led at the halfway point but appeared to blow a tire and went sliding into the wall.
Kahne’s car caught fire, but he was able to climb out quickly.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won at MIS last June, finished 37th Sunday. He led for 34 laps, but his engine acted up about two-thirds of the way through the race.
There were eight cautions for 38 laps.
Biffle cruised to the finish in his No. 16 Ford. He finished second to Johnson the previous weekend at Pocono, but this time there was nobody left to challenge him at the end.
It was Ford’s third Cup victory of the year — Carl Edwards and David Ragan won at Phoenix and Talladega. Sunday was Ford Motor Company’s 110th birthday.
“There have been a lot of great teams and a lot of great drivers, a lot of great engine builders that have contributed to Ford’s success,” Roush Fenway Racing owner Jack Roush said. “I’m just proud and honored to be part of that.”
This was the second Cup win of the year for Roush Fenway.
It’s been an emotional week for the racing community after the death of driver Jason Leffler on Wednesday at a dirt-track race in New Jersey. Biffle was quick to acknowledge Leffler while he celebrated his Father’s Day victory.
“We are thinking about little Charlie Leffler that doesn’t have a father today,” he said.
Biffle earned his 19th career victory and boosted his chances to reach the Chase for the Sprint Cup, moving from 10th to eighth in the standings. Biffle finished in the top 10 for the 13th time in 21 races at MIS, which is about 60 miles from Ford headquarters in Dearborn.
Edwards finished eighth. Kurt Busch qualified second but went into an early spin and finished 35th.
Johnson still has a comfortable lead in standings, although Edwards closed the gap at the top from 51 points to 31. Johnson had a chance at his fourth victory of the year before scraping the wall late.
Johnson has still never won a Cup race at MIS.
“I thought this would be the year,” he said. “Most of the time we’re leading and something happens, but I thought, `OK, maybe coming from behind would be the difference.’ But something happened.”
Johnson’s late mishap in his No. 48 Chevrolet did not result in a caution, so Biffle maintained his comfortable lead over Harvick.
“I wasn’t catching the 16 and didn’t really feel it necessary to have a tire failure or an issue at that particular point,” Harvick said. “So our best bet at that point was the 48 catches the 16 and something happening as those two guys were racing. But we just maintained and managed our gap between us and (Truex) to just hold that track position and not have anything silly happen.”
Harvick moved up one spot to fourth in the standings. Earnhardt fell from fourth to seventh.