Biffle ends Roush drought at Pocono
|By Diego Mejia||Monday, August 2nd 2010, 00:37 GMT|
Greg Biffle gave a recovering Jack Roush, Ford and himself their first Sprint Cup win of the season in a long and eventful race at Pocono Raceway.
The Roush Fenway racer and his team gambled on a two-tyre final pitstop which placed them second for the last restart.
However, soon after the restart Biffle was able to overtake leader Sam Hornish Jr, who had jumped into the lead at the final caution after staying out and hoping for the rain to continue and end the race early.
After passing Hornish, Biffle took off and pulled away into the distance to take his first Sprint Cup win since 2008. But despite it looking easy for him in the closing laps, Biffle admitted he had to work his engine to the limit, downshifting to third gear for Turn 1, while most other ran in fourth gear all the way around, as is normally the case at the 2.5-mile oval.
He also had to fight back from brushing the wall early on, taking two tyres on his first stop under caution to try to recover from a poor start.
Biffle dedicated his victory to his boss Jack Roush, who continues to recover from a second surgery for facial injuries suffered in a plane crash last Tuesday. The win was not just the first for the team this year, but also for Ford, who last won at NASCAR's top level at Talladega last autumn.
"It was mostly engine," said a jubilant Biffle. "This engine ran so good. I abused the crap out of it all day and this one is for Jack [Roush]... we've been really tough and answered all the questions about the Ford and there it is. Ford is running really good. I just wish I would have won last week, too."
The last stop, which proved crucial to the outcome of the race, came after the race had been halted for a total of 45 minutes due to a serious accident involving Kurt Busch and Elliott Sadler, both crashing hard against the inside barriers after reigning champion Jimmie Johnson tapped the Penske Dodge into a spin on the backstretch.
The race had to be red-flagged due to the severity of the incident, with repairs to the barriers and rain further delaying the last restart.
Polesitter Tony Stewart had a good final stop and took the green flag for the last time as the first car on four new tyres. He charged all the way up to second but by the time he had moved up, Biffle was already too far ahead and just a few laps remained.
"This is what we've been looking for," said Stewart. "We've got to just keep plugging away. We're not all the way there but we're gaining on it and that's encouraging. This is the time of the year when you want to be building momentum and not losing it. So, I'm pretty happy with this weekend."
Rounding out a great day for Roush, Carl Edwards was third, while points leader Kevin Harvick was fourth for Richard Childress Racing, followed by Denny Hamlin, who led some laps but did not run as strongly in the final portion of the race.
Hendrick Motorsports team-mates Jeff Gordon and Johnson led more than half the race between them, Gordon looking like he was closing in on victory until his stop for four tyres at the final caution.
Gordon was unable to recover as well as Stewart in the end and finished sixth, while Johnson struggled in the second half of the race after dominating for most of the first 100 laps, crossing the line in 10th.
"You are a sitting duck when you are first and you look at the guys you are racing," said Gordon about his final stop. "If you know if nine guys are going to take two tyres, then it is an easy call to take two.
"But, when you don't know and the guys around you are going to take four, then you take four. We just weren't really good to drive up through there like Tony [Stewart] was."
Juan Pablo Montoya was running second behind Gordon before the final stop, but again his strategy did not play out as expected and he was unable to recover from a four-tyre change.
The top 12 in the standings remain unchanged with only five races to go before the Chase.
Pos Driver Car Laps 1. Greg Biffle Ford 200 2. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 200 3. Carl Edwards Ford 200 4. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 200 5. Denny Hamlin Toyota 200 6. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 200 7. Mark Martin Chevrolet 200 8. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 200 9. Martin Truex Jr Toyota 200 10. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 200 11. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 200 12. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 200 13. Paul Menard Ford 200 14. David Ragan Ford 200 15. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 200 16. Juan Montoya Chevrolet 200 17. David Reutimann Toyota 200 18. Matt Kenseth Ford 200 19. Kasey Kahne Ford 200 20. Brad Keselowski Dodge 200 21. Regan Smith Chevrolet 200 22. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 200 23. Kyle Busch Toyota 200 24. A.J. Allmendinger Ford 200 25. Joey Logano Toyota 200 26. Scott Speed Toyota 200 27. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 199 28. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 199 29. Travis Kvapil Ford 199 30. David Gilliland Ford 198 31. Kevin Conway Ford 198 32. Reed Sorenson Toyota 171 33. Kurt Busch Dodge 164 34. Elliott Sadler Ford 163 35. P.J. Jones Toyota 63 36. Casey Mears Chevrolet 62 37. Todd Bodine Toyota 49 38. J.J. Yeley Dodge 48 39. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 46 40. Joe Nemechek Toyota 42 41. Landon Cassill Chevrolet 32 42. Dave Blaney Toyota 24 43. Michael McDowell Toyota 23