Greg Biffle regained the lead when he charged under Jimmie Johnson with 30 laps left Saturday night, then pulled away to end his 49-race winless streak while giving owner Jack Roush another NASCAR Sprint Cup victory in Fort Worth, Texas.
Johnson led 156 of the 334 laps while going for owner Rick Hendrick’s 200th career victory. But he never recovered, even scraping hard into the wall trying to catch up after Biffle drove under him in Turn 3 and completed the pass before the start-finish line.
Biffle, the season points leader, went on to win the fastest Cup race at the 11/2-mile, high-banked Texas track. His average speed of 160.577 mph put his Ford 3.2 seconds ahead of the Chevrolet driven by Johnson.
It was Roush’s ninth win in 23 Cup races at Texas, and completed a Lone Star State weekend sweep. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the Nationwide race on Friday night for Roush’s fourth Texas victory in a row and ninth overall in the second-tier series.
Biffle got his 17th career victory.
It was his first since an October 2010 race in Kansas, where the series goes next week.
After starting third, Biffle was among the lead pack the entire race, leading 91 laps on a fast-paced and windy night.
There were only two cautions for 10 slowed-down laps, both for debris, and the race finished with a record 234 consecutive laps of green-flag racing.
Pole does no good
Ryan Briscoe won the pole for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in California, but he won’t start anywhere near the front of today’s race.
Briscoe drives a Chevrolet, and the manufacturer decided this week to pull the engines from all 11 of its teams over concerns the engines wouldn’t last through the race.
Changing the engines meant all Chevrolet drivers will be penalized 10 starting spots on the grid.
So defending series champion Dario Franchitti actually will start first. He was fourth in the day’s qualifying session, but the Honda driver will jump to the front at the start of the race.
So will rookie Josef Newgarden, who was seventh but will start second after the penalties.
IndyCar had high expectations for this season, hoping improved competition and competing manufacturers would provide the story lines needed to grow the audience. But ratings are down through the first two races. The Barber, Ala., race on April 1 race drew just a .25 on NBC Sports Network, and IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard called the ratings “unacceptable.”