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Biffle wins Michigan after Johnson blows

The sequence of pit stops had left Brad Keselowski out in front - to the astonishment of Johnson and his pit crew who couldn't quite figure out how the Penske driver had managed to pull that one off. No matter, Johnson and his remaining cohorts - Kahne and Earnhardt - were looking in strong form to take the win and possibly lock up all the podium positions as well, providing of course that there were no late recurrences of the Chevy engine issues.

Kahne was still nursing the damage from his early spin and fell back at the restart, while Greg Biffle surged up two spots from fifth place to be in the ideal position to watch Johnson mount his assault on Keselowski for the lead, which finally paid off on lap 190 in turn 2. Biffle lined up the #2 and followed Johnson through next time around, but now Johnson already had a one second lead and looked unbeatable with just half a dozen laps remaining.

"I was closing in on him and I don't know if I would have got him in those eight laps or not," admitted Biffle. "I found some speed in the top line down there in three and four and was coming on him ... It would have been a hell of a run to the end."

Then Johnson was abruptly off the pace: and the problem was immediately apparent, as smoke and fluid poured out of the #48's exhaust. The engine had just died on him - the third Chevy of the race, and Johnson's second of the weekend. It was a cruel way to lose a seemingly certain race victory, and it clearly hurt the five-time champion: usually the most media-friendly of all the drivers in the paddock, this time Johnson departed the speedway without a single word to anyone. There was even a long pause before he finally posted on Twitter: "Thanks everyone, today was a tough one. We blew up & I'm disappointed, not much else to say. Now it's on to Bristol."

After that drama, the green-white-chequered restart proved anti-climactic: Biffle powered away and Keselowski had nothing left to offer in resistance. The chequered flag dropped with Biffle almost half a second ahead of Keselowski, who just managed to hold on to second ahead of Kahne and Earnhardt.

"That was a wild race," said Biffle in victory lane. "The race today, my car was super good at the beginning of the race when the track was kind of green and we got going there but once I got on restarts and in traffic I wasn't that good. I just kept working on it and trying different things, dragging the brakes in the corner to get it go a little better.

"We were so good out front," he continued. "Once I passed a car I could run the next guy down by a half-a-second a lap. I knew once we got out front we would be tough to beat and that was the case."

Keselowski had no complaints about finishing second. "He just did a great job," he said of Biffle. "He had a fast car and passed me legit and I couldn't keep up with him. Between the #48, the #16 and the #55, those three cars were just I think the class of the field today."

"There's nothing I want more I want than to win here at Michigan and you can feel a little bit of foreshadowing going on with the Chase coming on and those cars running right by each other," Keselowski added. "It's an honour to get to race with guys like Jimmie and Greg and be door-to-door. If my team can continue to execute like they did today I think we've got a real good shot at this championship so I'm very, very proud."

Biffle's win puts him on top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship points standings, 20pts ahead of team mate Matt Kenseth with just three races remaining now to the Chase cut-off that takes place after Richmond on September 8. No one is yet mathematically a lock for a Chase position, but it would take a seismic event for Biffle and Kenseth to miss out now.




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)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualified for sixth position Friday, August 22, 2014 for Saturday evening`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Johnson is seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, qualified for second position Friday, August 22, 2014 for Saturday evening`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Gordon leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmie John`s Chevrolet SS, won the pole position Friday, August 22, 2014 for Saturday evening`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Harvick is sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, poses with the pole award after qualifying fastest for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, poses with his wife DeLana, son Keelan, and the pole award after qualifying fastest for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #19 DrawTire Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #19 DrawTire Ford, poses with the trophy in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #19 DrawTire Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #19 DrawTire Ford, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, and the rest of the field during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to win Sunday, August 17, 2014 in the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet SS finished second. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, celebrates with a burnout after winning the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
With General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, holds the Michigan Heritage Trophy after winning the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. In 2013, MIS began awarding the Michigan Heritage Trophy as a recognition and celebration of the automobile and it`s importance to the race track and the manufacturers competing in NASCAR. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, celebrates with his crew after winning the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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