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Biffle wins Michigan after Johnson blows

As the race passed the halfway mark - and inclement weather not even remotely on the horizon this weekend at Michigan - Greg Biffle moved passed Truex to take the lead for the first time of the day, shortly before the next round of pit stops saw the off-sync group of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Marcos Ambrose and Kasey Kahne take over the top five for a time.

By lap 130, even these cars had cycled through pit lane for what they hoped would be their penultimate stop of the day. Biffle, Truex and Kenseth were back in control of the race, but they still had to fit in two more stops in the remaining 70 laps. Lurking back in eighth position with only one more visit to pit road to go, Earnhardt and his like-minded companions looked to have the whip hand.

That situation changed when Kurt Busch hit the wall in turn 3 on lap 136. The leading group realised the danger they were facing and now fitted in their own last-but-one stops of the day, essentially equalising the pit stop situation albeit leaving the Hendrick trio of Earnhardt, Johnson and Kahne in control for the restart on lap 143. That green flag barely lasted a lap before Juan Montoya's tyre blew and shredded his car bodywork, scattering debris all over the speedway.

"Well, anything that could go wrong today did," sighed Montoya, after nursing home the patched-up #42 to the end of the race in 26th place.

Matt Kenseth's hopes of a race win were also dealt a blow at the next restart on lap 148 when he too suffered a flat tyre. While fortunately it didn't blow apart like Montoya's did, it still wrecked his hopes of a strong finish.

"We just didn't really pit for fuel at the right time, but Greg was on the same strategy and won the race," Kenseth explained after finishing in 17th position. "We kept getting stuck in the wrong lane on restarts and had some sub-par pit stops and had a flat tyre and just couldn't recover from that."

Jimmie Johnson was now the strongest of the Hendrick cars and pulled ahead of Earnhardt in turn 4 for the lead on lap 152, with Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer in close pursuit.

Earnhardt was one of the first to come in for his final pit stop on lap 163 and most of the cars followed suit soon after, but Sam Hornish Jr. held out for a dozen laps including one that saw him clocked at a phenomenal 211 mph going into turn 1 as he tried to make the most of his shifted strategy.

Trevor Bayne pitted a lap later, but his next run lasted just five laps before a tyre problem sent him into the wall on lap 180 to bring out the seventh caution of the afternoon with 20 laps remaining.

"We blew a left front," Bayne explained. "We had two runs of taking just rights and that bit us there. I slid them getting in the box and flat spotted the tyre. It had a little vibration before it blew. I was hoping it let go on the straightaway and it did let go finally - when it did it blew up and took us right into the wall."




Related Pictures

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Greg Biffle crosses the finish line to win the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Safety crews attend to the No. 5 of Mark Martin after an accident on pit road. (Photo Credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, races to an eighth place finish with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS who finished in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a fifth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Elliott takes over the #24 car from retired driver Jeff Gordon.  (Photo by Ashley R Dickerson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, races to a fourth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, leads Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet, leads Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 2, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, drives during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 1, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, races to his 77th career victory, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career win with a victory lap and checkered flag, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Gregg Ellman for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory with a wave of the chequered flag Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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