Washington state native Greg Biffle picked up the victory Sunday on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as the third race of the championship 10-race playoff paid a stop in the Jayhawk state.
By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
(October 3, 2010)
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson got exactly what they needed Sunday at Kansas Speedway — Biffle by leaving the field in his dust and Johnson by persevering.
Biffle ran away and hid from the rest of the field in winning the Price Chopper 400 — the third race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup—by 7.638 seconds over Johnson, who rallied from his 21st starting position to claim the runner-up spot.
Johnson, seeking his fifth straight Cup title, didn’t leave the 1.5-mile racetrack with the trophy, but he heads to next Sunday’s race at his “home” track (Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.) with the series points lead.
Biffle entered the race 140 points behind Denny Hamlin, who finished 12th Sunday and lost the points lead to Johnson. With his second win of the year, his second win at Kansas and the 16th victory of his career, Biffle heads for California eighth in the standings and 85 points down to Johnson with seven races left in the Chase.
Johnson leads Hamlin by eight points.
“It was a great day for us,” Biffle said. “The car ran flawless. (Crew chief Greg) Erwin just made great calls in the pits, and the car just kept getting better and better and better. I was too loose for about the first three-quarters of the race.
“I didn’t want to adjust on it, because I was running in the top three, but they tightened it up, and off it went, man. All it need was a little bit of wedge in it to take off.”
Kevin Harvick finished third, followed by Tony Stewart, who led a race-high 76 laps before his car faded slightly in the closing stages. Jeff Gordon won an intense battle with Carl Edwards for the fifth spot, and Matt Kenseth came home seventh, as Chase drivers claimed the top seven positions.
The victory was a tonic for Biffle after last week’s 19th-place finish at Dover.
“We were kind of down in the dumps about Dover, one of our best racetracks, and we got trapped (when forced to pit off-sequence)—we had a top-10 car there. But we can’t go back and do it over again. We’ll keep doing the best we can.
“Everybody asks if we’re out of it, and I said, ‘We’re going to do the best we can. If we win ’em all, we win ’em all.’ ”
Despite taking the points lead, Johnson said it’s far too early to start thinking about a fifth straight championship.
“That would be foolish,” Johnson said. “It’s way too early to think about those things — way, way too early. … All I can do is worry about my team, what we have to do. Again, it's early. I'm not worried about who is leading the championship right now.
“I know we came (into Kansas) second. Of course, I wanted to be leading. I could care less where the 11 (Hamlin) was today. It's just not time to worry about that stuff. After Talladega (the seventh Chase race), teams and drivers can work on a strategy of protecting or taking chances. We have to get deeper into the Chase to be concerned about who the points leader is.”
Notes: Biffle’s win was worth a $100,000 bonus to his No. 16 Roush Fenway racing team. Ford’s director of North American Motorsports announced an incentive program for the Ford Chase teams before the race — $100,000 for each win in the final eight races, to be distributed throughout the team. ... Despite two run-ins with David Reutimann, Kyle Busch salvaged a 21st-place finish and stayed within striking distance of Johnson, seventh in the standings and 80 points back.