On a day when Hendrick Motorsports faltered with all four of their cars Greg Biffle was able to tally Ford's 1,000th NASCAR national touring series victory in the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The win was the first of the 2013 season and 19th of Biffle's Sprint Cup Series career. It also was hid fourth at Michigan.
Biffle led a race high 48 laps including the final 27 green flag laps and was holding off a hard charging Jimmie Johnson when Johnson blew a right-front tire with only three laps to go. Johnson ended up with a 28th place finish.
"One thousand wins for Ford pretty exciting in NASCAR," Biffle said in victory lane as he held his daughter on Father's Day. "I was really worried about that 48, you know he had been pretty fast but when this thing got in clean air it was all over."
The win moved Biffle up to eighth in the point standings and 28 points ahead of 11th.
The 200 lap race got underway with Biffle's Roush-Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards on the pole. Kurt Busch started to his inside and got into the left-rear of the No. 99 Ford in Turn 1. Edwards had to lift when he got loose and dropped back to fifth. Kurt Busch went onto lead. Also on lap 1 getting into Turn 1 Clint Bowyer ran into the back of Trevor Bayne and had damage to the right-front of his No. 15 Toyota.
On lap 6 the first caution came out when Bobby Labonte spun in his first ride in the Phoenix Racing No. 51 Chevrolet. He got loose in Turn 2 and when he went around Jeff Gordon had nowhere to go and slammed into Labonte and then the outside wall very hard. Labonte finished in 43rd and Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports crew spent over 100 laps making repairs but did get Gordon back out to run more laps and finish in 39th ahead of Josh Wise, Mike Bliss, Michael McDowell, and Bobby Labonte who all retired from the race.
Clint Bowyer's Michael Waltrip Racing crew used the caution as an opportunity to fix the damage on their car. By the end of the race Bowyer came away with a seventh place finish.
The race restarted on lap 11 with Kurt Busch leading. He still led over Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Paul Menard, and Carl Edwards when the competition caution flew on lap 21 due to overnight rain at Michigan. On the pit stops everyone took two tires and Edwards jumped to the lead with the advantage of the first pit stall. Logano got off second with Kenseth third, Kurt Busch fourth, and Kasey Kahne fifth. Kyle Busch was penalized to the back after passing illegally on pit road.
On the lap 26 restart Joey Logano got a good one and passed Edwards for the lead in Turn 1. The third caution then flew on lap 29 when Kurt Busch got loose off Turn 2 and spun. His No. 78 Chevrolet backed into the outside wall and also hit the left-front. His team made extensive repairs on pit road but lost multiple laps in doing so. He finished seven laps down in 35th.
Logano led on the lap 34 restart and up to the fourth caution on lap 42 for debris on the track. Jamie McMurray inherited the lead by not pitting. Also staying out were Austin Dillon, Mark Martin, Marcos Ambrose, and Danica Patrick. Carl Edwards was the first off pit road and started sixth with Logano in seventh on lap 45.
On lap 50 McMurray led over Dillon and Edwards. Jimmie Johnson was charging to the front and into fourth with Kasey Kahne in fifth. On lap 64 Johnson had worked his way past McMurray and into the lead for the first time in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
McMurray and Dillon had to pit for fuel under green and on lap 75 the running order had the three Hendrick cars in front with Johnson, Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The fifth caution then came out on lap 77 for debris in Turn 1. Dale Earnhardt Jr got off pit road first with Jimmie Johnson second, Martin Truex Jr third, Kasey Kahne fourth, and Joey Logano fifth.
On the lap 81 restart Junior spun his tires and Jimmie Johnson let off to not beat him to the line. By doing so the field pounced on the No. 48 car and Johnson found himself in 12th by the backstretch. Earnhardt Jr. led until lap 90 when Kasey Kahne grabbed the lead from him. On lap 100 at the halfway point in the race Kahne led over his two Hendrick Motorsports teammates. Junior was second and Johnson had driven back up to third with the fastest car on the track.
Kahne's day came to a sudden stop when on lap 105 he blew his right-front tire without warning and slammed hard into the wall where his No. 5 Chevrolet caught on fire. Kahne climbed out okay but finished in 38th place after leading 14 laps. That brought out the sixth caution of Sunday afternoon.
Dale Earnhardt Jr again got off pit road first for the lap 113 restart. Jimmie Johnson dropped back to seventh after a slow two-tire change. Johnson again marched to the front and on lap 128 he took the lead from the No. 88 when Junior slowed due to losing a cylinder. On lap 131 the engine let go altogether and the seventh caution came out due to oil on the track. Earnhardt Jr finished in 37th.
Chad Knaus decided to have Johnson take four tires on the ensuing pit stops which dropped the No. 48 to 19th for the restart. Joey Logano got off first with Edwards second, Kenseth third, Greg Biffle fourth, and Kevin Harvick fifth. On the lap 136 restart Edwards took the lead from Logano right away. Greg Biffle was on the charge for the first time and grabbed the lead from his teammate on lap 151. Green flag stops started on lap 165 with Edwards and Johnson was back up to eighth in the running order. Biffle pitted from the lead on lap 167 but then the caution came out on lap 168 when Jamie McMurray blew a right-front tire and scattered debris. McMuuray would finish four laps down in 33rd.
Greg Biffle was still scored on the lead lap which meant after the other drivers pitted under the caution he would inherit the lead. Carl Edwards was not as fortunate and had to take the free pass and restarted in 24th. For the lap 173 restart with 27 laps to go Biffle led over Martin Truex Jr, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, and Brad Keselowski. Johnson had another slow two-tire stop and restarted in 10th.
Kenseth got really loose off of Turn 2 and got out of the gas which dropped him back to 13th. Biffle meanwhile started to build a big lead and on lap 180 led over Harvick, Truex Jr, Johnson, and Keselowski. On lap 182 Johnson moved into third and on lap 190 he passed Harvick for second and was set on catching Biffle who had about a two second lead.
Biffle still had a healthy advantage when with three laps to go Johnson had a right-front tire go down and he slid up into the wall. No caution came out but the No. 48 came to pit road. Johnson finished as the first car one lap down in 28th. Biffle's pressure was removed and he cruised to the win from there. On the final lap Brad Keselowski was running in fourth when he ran out of gas and coasted to a 12th place finish.
The final order of the Quicken Loans 400 was Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick second, Martin Truex Jr third, Kyle Busch fourth, Tony Stewart fifth, Matt Kenseth sixth, Clint Bowyer seventh, Carl Edwards eighth, Joey Logano ninth, and Jeff Burton tenth. Austin finished 11th, Brad Keselowski 12th, Danica Patrick 13th, Paul Menard 14th, Trevor Bayne 15th, Ricky Stenhouse Jr 16th, Aric Almirola 17th, Ryan Newman 18th, AJ Allmendinger 19th for JTG/Daughety Racing, and Juan Montoya 20th. Casey Mears was 21st, David Gilliland 22nd, Marcos Ambrose 23rd, JJ Yeley 24th, David Ragan 25th, Mark Martin 26th, and Travis Kvapil in 27th as the last lead lap car.
Jimmie Johnson was 28th, David Stremme 29th, and Denny Hamlin had a terrible car and finished 30th. Dave Blaney took 31st, David Reutimann 32nd, Jamie McMurray 33rd, Ken Schrader 34th, Kurt Busch 35th, Joe Nemechek 36th, Dale Earnhardt Jr 37th, Kasey Kahne 38th, Jeff Gordon 39th, Josh Wise 40th, Mike Bliss 41st, Michael McDowell 42nd, and Bobby Labonte 43rd.
Jimmie Johnson still is the points leader by 31 over Carl Edwards. Clint Bowyer is third, 49 points back with Kevin Harvick up to fourth and Matt Kenseth fifth. Kyle Busch is sixth, Dale Earnhardt Jr seventh, Greg Biffle eighth, Brad Keselowski ninth, and Tony Stewart moved into the top 10 for the first time in the season. He is two points ahead of Paul Menard who holds the second Wild Card spot. Kasey Kahne is 12th in points but holds the first Wild Card due to his one win. Martin Truex Jr is 12 points behind 10th in 13th, Joey Logano is also 12 points back in 14th, Aric Almirola is 13 points back of 10th in 15th and Jeff Gordon is 19 back in 16th. Denny Hamlin is still 85 points out of 20th place.
The next race up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is Sunday, June 23rd at Sonoma Raceway for the Toyota/Save Mart 350.
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