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Biffle holds on for Phoenix Nationwide win


A spate of late caution periods played into Greg Biffle's hands Friday night, as the driver of the #16 Ford held off Jason Leffler to win the Bashas' Supermarkets 200 Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway, giving team owner Jack Roush a 100th victory in the series.

Biffle beat Leffler to the stripe by 0.338secs in a green-white-chequered finish to win his second Nationwide race of the season and the 20th of his career. Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick completed the top five.

Biffle and Leffler finished 1-2 on old rubber after 14 of 17 lead lap cars came to the pits for at least two tyres under caution on lap 181. The late-race strategic calls made the difference for both Leffler and Biffle.

"The pit and [crew chief] Eddie [Pardue] really won this race," Biffle admitted, "That call at the end, I was with Eddie on staying out. I thought everybody came in, and I thought I'd have new tyres right on my bumper. All I needed was a couple of cars [behind me on old tyres], because these tyres - once they cool down - I think I'd have been okay if we went green the whole way. Once I was out front, my cars was really good."

Leffler said he couldn't catch Biffle once he pulled away on the late-race restarts, and was more worried about Keselowski, who took on right-side tyres on his final stop, restarted fourth on lap 185 and passed Burney Lamar for the third position.

"We were running eighth there, and they all pitted," Leffler said, "We didn't even think about pitting - track position was so important. There was going to be about 20 laps left and, in these Nationwide races, it seems like, when you have 20 laps left, you're only going to run about five under green."

In a dramatic reversal, Kyle Busch, who finished tenth, wrested the series points lead from Carl Edwards, who came home 33rd. Busch leads Edwards by 47 points as the series heads for Talladega on 25 April.

The fortunes of Busch and Edwards turned radically near the midpoint of the race. Busch had lost two laps during a green flag pit-stop on lap 50 because of a slow leak in the right front tyre of the #18 Toyota, but regained one under green, passing Edwards on lap 95. At that juncture, Edwards reported a skip in his engine, which his team was unable to repair under caution. Busch regained his lost lap with a free pass as the first car one lap down under the fourth caution of the race on lap 109 and, moments after the restart on lap 114, Edwards brought his car to the garage, where the crew diagnosed a problem with a valve spring on the #60 Ford. Edwards lost 25 laps while the team, led by Roush, rigged a makeshift repair for the broken part.

While Edwards languished in the garage, Busch took advantage of his free pass, working his way back to eighth before NASCAR called the fifth caution of the race for debris on lap 149. He restarted eighth on lap 154 after a pit-stop and gained two more spots on that circuit, before John Wes Townley's crash caused the sixth caution. It was only in the closing laps of the race that Busch faded to his eventual tenth-place finish.

by Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service


Related Pictures

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr will makes his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut in Jack Roush`s #16 Ford, usually piloted by Greg Biffle   [pic credit: NASCAR/Getty]
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, races to victory Sunday, November 15, 2015 in the final round of the Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS advances to the Champion 4 with his second place finish. Harvick is joined with Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Pepsi Chevrolet SS to the Sprint Cup Series Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida next Sunday. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, lead the field onto pit road due to rain during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
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Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the crew of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet team celebrate in victory lane after winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(L-R) Team owner Rick Hendrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and crew chief Greg Ives celebrate in victory lane after winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(L-R) Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and crew chief Greg Ives celebrate in victory lane after winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
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Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, celebrates his win Sunday, November 15, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series SYLVANIA 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 27, 2015 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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