Saturday, April 14, 2012

Biffle Wins Texas Shootout

Greg Biffle's last victory came at Kansas in 2010, 49 races ago.  This season, the points leader had four top 10 finishes in the first six races.  Biffle was able to grow his points lead tonight, when he overtook Jimmie Johnson to win his first race of 2012.

Greg Biffle celebrates his first win since 2010 (Courtesy Getty Images)
Michael Waltrip Racing has been on a roll lately, and the off week did not slow them down; Martin Truex Jr. won the pole for the race, and Mark Martin qualified fourth.  Truex Jr. took the green flag first, and jumped out to an early lead.  Matt Kenseth began to have some problems at around lap 20.  He believed that something was on fire in the engine, after his water temperature shot up and he got some smoke in the cockpit.  But that didn't stop he and teammate Greg Biffle from catching Martin Truex Jr., and on lap 32, Biffle took the lead from Martin Truex Jr. 

Trevor Bayne, shown here on pit road, brought out one of the race's two cautions (Courtesy Getty Images)
On lap 43, Jeff Gordon hit pit road with a worn right-front tire, and it forced the rest of the field to make green flag pit stops.  During the stops, Kasey Kahne, who has had bad luck in almost every race this year, got boxed in on his stop and lost most of his track position.  At about lap 64, Matt Kenseth reported that he may have had a loose wheel, and that he would have to come in to fix it.  But then, on lap 67, they caught a break when the first caution came out, for debris.

Following pit stops, Martin Truex Jr. retook the lead from Greg Biffle, but Biffle took the lead on the high side on the ensuing restart.  He lead all the way until lap 82, when his Roush Fenway teammate Matt Kenseth took the lead.  On lap 93, the second caution of the night came out when Trevor Bayne slapped the outside wall.  Kenseth lost the lead during pit stops, and Martin Truex Jr.'s team got him out front once again.  On the restart, however, Greg Biffle was able to drive away from the field and retake the lead.

Biffle was only able to hold the lead until lap 113, when Jimmie Johnson got a run coming off turn 4 to take the lead away.  Johnson lost the lead on the next round of green flag pit stops, after he pitted five laps after Martin Truex Jr., who took the lead away from Johnson while he was in the pits.  It took Johnson until lap 180 before he was able to take the lead away from Truex.  Just a few laps later, green flag pit stops began again, and this time Jimmie Johnson was able to hold on to the lead.  While Johnson was able to hold onto his position, Martin Truex Jr. was shuffled back to fifth after pit stops.  Truex's Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Mark Martin moved up to second following the round of green flag pit stops.

Jimmie Johnson leads Greg Biffle during the Samsung Mobile 500 (Courtesy Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson did not give up the lead over the next green flag run.  During the green flag pit stops, Johnson did not lose any time on Greg Biffle or Mark Martin, who were running second and third, respectively.  Johnson was dominating the race, but with 60 laps to go, Greg Biffle began to cut into Johnson's lead a little bit, partly due to the fact that Johnson was catching a lot of lapped traffic.

Right before the last set set of green flag pit stops, Greg Biffle cut into Jimmie Johnson's lead dramatically as Johnson was trying to get some trash off of his grille.  Following the green flag pit stops, the top three remained the same; Jimmie Johnson led Greg Biffle and Mark Martin with about 50 laps to go.  With 30 laps to go, Biffle was finally able to get around Jimmie Johnson to take the lead.  Biffle started to build a big lead on Johnson, and it got even bigger when the 48 car slid up into the outside wall with about 17 laps to go.  Biffle was able to keep his lead over Johnson at around 3.2 seconds, and easily captured his 17th career win.  Biffle led 91 laps on his way to victory.

Mark Martin stands in front of his car before the race; he would finish third (Courtesy Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, after leading a race-high 156 laps, was able to nurse his car home second.  Unfortunately for team owner Rick Hendrick, they will have to take the 200th Win hats to Kansas with them.  Mark Martin was running the fastest laps at the end of the race, but it was too little too late, and he came home third.  Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top 5. Pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr. was able to come home sixth, while Kasey Kahne had some good luck and finished seventh.  Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished eigth, ninth, and  tenth, respectively.  Marcos Ambrose had a strong run all day, but ran out of gas on the last lap and ended up 20th.  Tony Stewart had to go to a back-up car before the race, and couldn't make up any ground; he finished 24th.  Brad Keselowski had engine troubles about halfway through the race, and wound up 36th, 22 laps down. 

The race at Texas was not very exciting, but any race with a 234-lap green flag run isn't exactly the epitome of excitement.  The next race will be Sunday at Kansas, where the Sprint Cup stars will run 400 miles to see who is the best-of-the-best.  The race will be at 12:30, and can be seen only on FOX. 

Greg Biffle: Winner of the Samsung Mobile 500 (Courtesy Getty Images)

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