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Biffle seals the deal at last.

Greg Biffle finally opened his 2006 Nextel Cup victory account on Saturday night at the Darlington Raceway as he held off a closing Jeff Gordon to win the Dodge Charger 500 by a handful of car lengths.

Successfully defending his 2005 victory at NASCAR's oldest and toughest venue, Biffle finally made amends for the countless opportunities that have gone begging so far this season by keeping the nose of his #16 Roush Racing National Guard Ford ahead of Gordon's #24 Hendrick Motorsports DuPont Chevrolet in a tense battle under the floodlights at the unique egg-shaped 1.366-mile oval.

From ninth place on the grid, Biffle worked his way to the front within 40 laps, passing polesitter Kasey Kahne for the lead on lap 35 and remaining a constant threat for the rest of the evening. However it took a well timed green flag pit stop some 50 laps from home to put Biffle in front for good as the notoriously abrasive Darlington track surface played havoc with everyone's set-up at some point in the race.

Such is the difference in performance between new and old tyres, the fact that Biffle made his final pitstop a mere one lap before leaders Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth allowed him to gain more than three seconds on his rivals and vault from fourth to first in the process.

Unusually for a race at Darlington, the final 115 laps of the 367-lap race ran without caution, forcing drivers to conserve their tyres as much as possible through two complete fuel and tyre runs. This made for some interesting rather than spectacular racing in the closing stages as Gordon first dispatched Kenseth for second and then set about inching towards Biffle for the lead.

With ten laps remaining Biffle's cushion was a full second but as he began to encounter lapped traffic in the final five laps Gordon soon began to close. With three to go Gordon looked primed for a move only to have his momentum dashed by Ken Schrader at a critical moment, giving Biffle the edge he needed.

Gordon crossed the line about three car lengths behind the rear bumper of the #16 Ford and was quick to show his displeasure to Schrader despite taking another big step towards this years chase for the championship while Kenseth chipped another couple of points away from points leader Jimmie Johnson with a typically stout run to third from 31st on the grid.

Johnson led several times after starting 25th but didn't have enough to challenge the top three in the final stages and took fourth place, several seconds ahead of fifth place finisher Dale Earnhardt Jr and the sixth place battle finally won by Ryan Newman over Kyle Busch and Mark Martin.

Jeff Burton and rookie Denny Hamlin completed the top ten while defending series champ Tony Stewart recovered from a mid race spin to take 12th position.



Related Pictures

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02/11/06 Daytona. Greg Biffle is one of the favorites to compete for the 2006 Nextel Cup. Photo Credit: autostock
Jeff Gordon - DuPont/Hendrick Motorsport Chevrolet   [pic credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images]
07/15/05 New Hampshire. Matt Kenseth posted the 22nd quickest time in the opening practice session for the New England 300. Photo Credit: Autostock
(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)
Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 Cheez-It Ford, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 23, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Valvoline Chevrolet SS, finishes in eighth place Sunday, September 6, 2015 in the NASCAR Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a fifth place finish Sunday, September 6, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller High Life Ford, and Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, lead the field to turn one to start the running of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 6, 2015 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a sixth place finish Sunday, September 6, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 Buddy Baker Tribute Toyota, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 6, 2015 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #25 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, pits following an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 6, 2015 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller High Life Ford, and Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, lead the field to the green flag for the running of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 6, 2015 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Mello Yello Chevrolet, races Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 6, 2015 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
The #25 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, driven by Chase Elliott (not pictured), is towed down pit road during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 6, 2015 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 ARRIS Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 6, 2015 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 ARRIS Toyota, celebrates with a backflip after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 6, 2015 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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