Biffle takes shock win

Greg Biffle, who started 24th, broke the top 10 in 10 laps, took command past halfway, and dominated Sunday's GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan Speedway. Biffle won for the second time in his career and the first time this year

Biffle takes shock win

Biffle led a top-three sweep by Ford drivers, the first such since Biffle's last victory, at Daytona in July 2003. Mark Martin came in a distant second and Dale Jarrett third. All five Roush cars, including the No. 99 of newcomer Carl Edwards, finished in the top 10, the first time that has happened since Las Vegas in 1998.

The race started slowly, with eight cautions in the first 99 laps slowing the progress. There was only one caution in the final 100 laps, and Biffle was able to begin to stretch his legs.

Biffle took the lead from Elliott Sadler on Lap 104, then yielded it to Martin, who at that time appeared to have an equal car. Martin led to the caution stops on Lap 130, when fortune turned the race against him.

Martin's team left a lug nut loose on his left-rear wheel. NASCAR inspectors spotted it, and Martin was called back to the pits to correct the lapse. That dropped Martin to 28th place for the restart on Lap 136.

Biffle, meanwhile dueled in front with Kasey Kahne, swapping the lead three times over the next 15 laps. Martin, meanwhile, charged from the back to reach sixth place by the time of the final green-flag stops around Lap 170. By then, Biffle had built a 4.3sec lead.

Biffle took four tyres on the final stop, with Martin taking two, jumping to second place. From there, however, he had nothing for Biffle, although enough to hold off Jarrett and Kahne, whose engine began to wheeze over the final 20 laps. Biffle had a 3.2sec lead with 10 to go and beat Martin to the final by better than 8sec.

Meanwhile, erstwhile points leader Jimmie Johnson suffered his third straight engine failure and fell from the top spot, although that means little, given NASCAR's play-off format, to commence after three more races. Jeff Gordon, who finished second, took over in front, 68 ahead of Johnson.

The group around the transfer spot, 10th place, tightened, with Kahne, finishing fifth, displacing team-mate Jeremy Mayfield in the 10th position. Martin gained one position to 12th. Only 70 points separate 10th-place Kahne from 15th-place Jamie McMurray, with two chaotic short-track events between now and the cut.

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