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Biffle wins heated battle with Johnson in Texas

NASCAR Sprint Cup
Sunday, April 15, 2012

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Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 Filtrete Ford, celebrates with the trophy in victory lane
Getty Images for NASCAR
Saving his equipment for the final green-flag run, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Greg Biffle finally put a win on the board, cruising to a 3.235-second victory over Jimmie Johnson in Saturday night's Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Biffle took the lead on Lap 304 of 334 and pulled away to win his first race since Oct. 3, 2010 (at Kansas), his second at Texas and the 17th of his career. Johnson, who led a race-high 156 laps, scraped the wall trying to run down Biffle in the late going.

"I just dug deep," Biffle said. "I knew I had to do it and kept trying and trying and trying. I knew the team would forgive me if I wrecked it trying to beat him, so I gave it all I had."

Mark Martin came home third, followed by Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth. With Kasey Kahne finishing seventh and Dale Earnhardt Jr. 10th, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers ran in the top 10, but Biffle denied them their most coveted prize, a 200th Cup victory for team owner Rick Hendrick.

The victory was the first in the Cup series for Biffle's crew chief, Matt Puccia.

"I could say it's about time," said Biffle, who snapped a 49-race winless streak. "But I'm just thankful to be able to drive these cars, as fast as they are. We knew it was a matter of time that we were going to win one soon -- we've been running so good."

From the moment he passed pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr. for the lead on Lap 180, Johnson was dominant, as Biffle chased the five-time champion lap after lap through three cycles of green-flag pit stops.

Biffle frequently gained ground when Johnson hit traffic, but the margin would expand when Johnson got to clean air. The lead stayed at roughly one second -- give or take -- and by the time the race hit Lap 300, Martin in third at 7.8 seconds back was the only other driver within 10 seconds of the leader.

With 34 laps left, however, Biffle turned up the wick. On Lap 304, as Johnson tried to work his way through traffic, the series leader made the pass for the top spot, streaking to the inside of Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet as the cars approached the start/finish line.

Biffle said he was "foaming at the mouth" with Johnson in his sights, but he had to conserve fuel and save his tires for the first few laps of the final run after his last pit stop.

"I was a little short on fuel, so I kind of lifted a little early and let the car roll down through the corners," said Biffle, who expanded his series lead to 19 points over Earnhardt and Kenseth. "When he started catching a little bit of traffic, that's when I started going.

"I just pushed as hard as I could, and I was driving the thing sideways around the corner trying to catch him. I could tell I was catching him, and he had a little trouble with traffic."

Johnson took issue with drivers of lapped cars -- particularly the No. 39 of Ryan Newman -- who Johnson felt failed to show the respect due a race leader.

"When I caught lapped traffic, some guys that were multiple laps down didn't show much respect for myself, the leader," said Johnson, who posted his fifth runner-up finish against one victory at Texas. "Before I knew it, the 16 (Biffle) was there inside of me and got by.

"We ran with him for the next eight or 10 laps, and then I made a mistake into (Turn) 3 and hit the fence. At that point, I just needed to make sure I brought it home. A great night, all in all. I certainly wish we could be in Victory Lane, but we'll try again next week."

The race featured only two cautions and ended with a green-flag run of 234 laps. That was a race record, as were the average speed (160.577 mph), fewest number of cautions and fewest number of caution laps (10).

Notes: Hendrick put four cars in the top 10 for the first time since last year's spring race at Talladega. . . . Roush Fenway Racing earned its series-best ninth Cup win at Texas. . . . Both Johnson and Martin posted their 13th top-10 at TMS, Johnson in 18 starts, Martin in 23.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 3 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M Filtrete 47/4 334 Running
2 10 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Kobalt Tools 44/2 334 Running
3 4 55 Mark Martin Toyota Aaron's 2011 Best of the Best 41/0 334 Running
4 34 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 20 Years 41/1 334 Running
5 2 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Best Buy 40/1 334 Running
6 1 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 39/1 334 Running
7 5 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Farmers Insurance 37/0 334 Running
8 20 99 Carl Edwards Ford Fastenal 36/0 334 Running
9 15 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser 35/0 334 Running
10 16 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Diet Mountain Dew / National Guard 34/0 334 Running
11 17 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Interstate Batteries 33/0 334 Running
12 13 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Office / March of Dimes 32/0 334 Running
13 27 51 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Phoenix Construction Services 31/0 333 Running
14 9 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats 30/0 333 Running
15 12 22 AJ Allmendinger Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 29/0 333 Running
16 25 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 28/0 333 Running
17 18 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy 27/0 333 Running
18 11 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Quaker State / Menards 26/0 333 Running
19 14 20 Joey Logano Toyota Dollar General 25/0 333 Running
20 7 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley 25/1 333 In Pit
21 6 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 23/0 332 Running
22 23 43 Aric Almirola Ford Smithfield 22/0 332 Running
23 26 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American 21/0 332 Running
24 29 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy / Office Depot 20/0 332 Running
25 22 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 19/0 331 Running
26 31 10 David Reutimann Chevrolet Accell Construction 18/0 331 Running
27 30 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Bush's Baked Beans 17/0 330 Running
28 19 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center 0 330 Running
29 24 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 15/0 330 Running
30 28 83 Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 14/0 330 Running
31 35 38 David Gilliland Ford ModSpace 13/0 328 Running
32 39 32 Reed Sorenson Ford Jani-King 0 327 Running
33 36 249 J.J. Yeley Toyota JPO Absorbents 11/0 325 Running
34 42 33 Tony Raines Chevrolet Precon Marine 10/0 323 Running
35 21 34 David Ragan Ford Scorpion Truck Bed Liners 10/1 313 Running
36 8 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 8/0 312 Running
37 41 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Jimmie Johnson's Anything With an Engine 7/0 228 Vibration
38 37 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota Dr Pepper 6/0 114 Engine
39 32 26 Josh Wise * Ford Morristown Driver's Service 5/0 66 Vibration
40 43 119 Mike Bliss Toyota Humphrey Smith Racing 0 38 Brakes
41 33 98 Michael McDowell Ford Curb Records 3/0 36 Vibration
42 40 23 Scott Riggs Chevrolet North Texas Pipe / Embassy Suites 2/0 25 Vibration
43 38 195 Scott Speed Ford Tommy Williams Drywall 1/0 13 Overheating

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