One week after losing a late battle to Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle gets revenge with a win at Michigan International Speedway.
BROOKLYN, Mich. — Greg Biffle took the checkered flag and the win in the Quicken Loans 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, and the win made history for manufacturer Ford.
“It is a hard fought battle,” Biffle said. “It wasn’t easy. I kept working on this car and working on this car. The guys did a great job. The pit stops were flawless.”
Biffle’s win in the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Fusion was the 1,000th victory across all three of NASCAR’s national series -- Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck — for Ford.
Kevin Harvick finished second, Martin Truex Jr was third, Kyle Busch fourth and Tony Stewart fifth.
Harvick inherited the second position in the running order with three laps to go when the previous second-place runner, Jimmie Johnson, suffered a flat tire and made contact with the retaining wall.
With Johnson’s tire issue in the closing laps, all four drivers out of the Hendrick Motorsports stable fell victim to troublesome circumstances, mostly while running up front.
Jeff Gordon was unable to avoid a spinning Labonte on lap five and suffered significant damage to the car that put him in the garage for several laps.
Fellow Hendrick driver Kasey Kahne took the lead from teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. on lap 90, but just 13 laps later, Kahne suffered a tire issue himself, and he made hard contact with the wall while leading.
“Something broke,” Kahne said. “I don’t really know. I would say it was a tire that went down, but I don’t know for sure. I was just going into the corner, and then it ‘boom’ turned right, went straight into the wall.”
That moved Earnhardt back into the lead. By lap 103, Earnhardt had a cushion of four seconds over second place, but on lap 128 he fell off the pace when his engine lost a cylinder. On lap 132, Earnhardt’s engine expired to bring out the caution.
“That is worse than if it happens when you’re running in the back,” Earnhardt said. “I’m real proud of the car. We were really struggling in practice and I’m just real proud of (crew chief) Steve (Letarte) and the whole team. They made a lot of great changes. And that car was just flying at the end there.”
That put another Hendrick driver, Johnson, into the lead. Carl Edwards, who started on the race on the pole, was back up front to restart with the lead following the lap 132 caution. Soon after the restart, Edwards was joined up front by his Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Biffle, in the second spot. Biffle took the lead from Edwards a few laps later.
Biffle pitted under green around lap 164, as did several other drivers. A caution came out a lap later, trapping several drivers a lap down. Biffle was able to stay on the lead lap, though, and when those who hadn’t pitted under green headed down pit road under the yellow, Biffle moved up into the lead.
“I had a lump because I didn’t want to give up all that track position,” Biffle said. “We were fortunate enough that the 48 (Johnson) had to start 10th. That is why we race every weekend, to see the luck of the draw and who makes the right decisions. We made the right decisions today and started back up front today. I was nervous I wasn’t going to be the leader but I was excited when they told me I was the leader still and the 48 was in 10th. I knew he had his work cut out for him and we were able to beat him that way.”
Edwards, though, wasn’t so fortunate. Edwards had to take a wave around to get back on the lead lap and restarted outside the top 20.
When the race restarted, Harvick moved into second behind Biffle, but with 10 laps to go, Johnson passed Harvick for the spot.
“I knew Harvick was going to have some trouble and I was taking it easy on the beginning of that run on those tires,” Biffle said. “I didn’t think he would be able to hang for 25 laps. Then came the 48.”
Trying to chase down Biffle to get the win, Johnson was gaining ground before his tire went down in the closing laps.
“You know, we beat the 48 today and that says a lot,” Biffle said. “He was really, really fast. Once we got out in clean air we could match up fairly well with the 48. He made a small mistake trying to catch us.”
Matt Kenseth finished sixth and Clint Bowyer was seventh. Edwards drove back up through the field for an eighth-place finish. Joey Logano finished ninth, and Jeff Burton was 10th.