After a late tire-issue for Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle cruised to the checkered flag for his second Michigan win in a row on Sunday and first victory of the season.
Biffle was in command of the race after the final restart but was feeling pressure from Johnson, who was closing. Did he have enough time to catch Biffle? With two laps to go and Johnson trailing Biffle by under a second, he lost a tire in the middle of turns one and two and his car skated up towards the wall.
The right side of the car was pancaked. Johnson's chances at the win were toast, and Biffle finished more than four seconds ahead of Kevin Harvick.
"I love it when the 48 crashes trying to catch me. Love it," Biffle exclaimed over the radio after crossing the finish line.
He explained his comment on the radio later -- Johnson came through the field to the front numerous times Sunday and said he had to drive really hard over the last segment of the race to get near Biffle.
"Well, let me clarify that a little bit" Biffle said. "I don’t want to see anybody wreck; I should have said make a mistake. And that’s truly what he did is he made a mistake. He pushed the envelope, and we all do that. I almost did that; he almost busted me, and basically that’s what I was referring to was breaking him. We got him to make a mistake, we got him to falter, and we pushed the envelope, and that’s part of racing and part of running hard and being competitive, and it makes you feel good when you push the guy over the edge, and he made a mistake.
It was also the second straight Michigan race that Johnson had a problem while racing Biffle for the win. Last August, Johnson's engine started to wane while he was in the lead and Biffle passed him for the win shortly before it expired with five laps to go.
Biffle had the lead on that final restart thanks to a great break on pit road during a green flag pit stop cycle. As Biffle had just hit pit road on lap 167 of the 200 lap race, Jamie McMurray blew a tire and brought out a caution flag. But because he was in his pit stall when the caution waved, Biffle was able to exit the pits without going a lap down.
That meant that as the rest of the lead lap cars who hadn't pitted made their way in for service during the caution, Biffle inherited the lead and never gave it back. His teammate Carl Edwards, who started on the pole, had pitted just prior to Biffle. He wasn't so lucky. He was forced to take the wavearound and finished 8th.
"I was really worried about that 48, you know, he'd been pretty fast, but when this thing got in clean air it was all over," Biffle said.
The win was Ford's 1,000th race win across all of NASCAR's national series.
Last week, Biffle finished second to Johnson at Pocono. And it was possible the opposite would be true this week. But because of the tire issue Johnson ended up 28th, the highest finishing Hendrick Motorsports car after Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne also all had problems.
Johnson's points lead is now 31 over Edwards and Biffle is 8th in the standings.