It left Carl pretty displeased, but come on, is it really fair to expect the leader of the race to reduce his chance of winning in the name of a teammate? Please.
Biffle and Edwards were running up front prior to the race's final pit stop when a piece of debris – perhaps a food wrapper from the grandstands – adhered to Edwards' front grille, blocking air from cooling the radiator and dangerously overheating the engine.
"It seems like we get more hot dog wrappers than almost any place else [at Michigan]," said team owner Jack Roush.
Edwards was trailing Biffle and radioed to his spotter requesting assistance from Biffle, then leading, to help get the debris off the nose of the No. 99. Drivers can sometimes remove the debris with a sort of vacuum-like air pressure area that can be created by racing close together nose-to-tail. But Biffle knew that the 400-mile race was quickly nearing the end, and slowing to help Edwards would hurt both Biffle's and Roush Fenway Racing's chances to take the win.
"When I looked up in the mirror and he was 25 car lengths back, and they said, 'Carl has got something on his grille', I said, 'I can't help him, not in this not right now,' " said Biffle. "This is my chance to win today, right here, and the No. 48 is coming."
Biffle was ultimately right, and he won the race – the 19th of his career and fourth at Michigan.
But the flap ended up costing Edwards. The No. 99 had to pit a few laps earlier than expected to remove the debris and he then caught a poor break when Jamie McMurray lost a tire to bring out the race's final caution flag. Edwards was trapped a lapped down thanks to the timing amid the pit cycle and had to take the free pass to get back on the lead lap. He ultimately finished eighth after slicing through the field late.
Meanwhile Biffle, who had also pitted before the final yellow flag from the lead, retained enough of an on-track advantage to the leader at the time of the yellow that he wasn't lapped and re-took the lead when cars that hadn't yet pitted stopped under the yellow flag. He would then hold off Johnson and his hard-charging No. 48 – easily the best car in the field throughout the day – when Johnson pushed hard enough to cause a tire failure with two laps left.
Had Biffle slowed for Edwards, there's a good chance he wouldn't have been leading after the yellow.
After the race, Edwards told Sporting News' Bob Pockrass that it was "[Biffle's] job to help me" and that the team would "take care of it." But team owner Jack Roush, seated next to Biffle in the post-race press conference after reveling in taking the 1,000th NASCAR win for Ford, disputed that Biffle had done anything wrong.
"There's no team orders for that kind of thing, but I do support the decision that Greg made to not give up his track position, and we'll discuss that," Roush said.
Biffle insisted that while he would have liked to help Edwards, it would have been too much of a detriment to his chances of winning. He felt Edwards had other, better options.
"It's a two-way street, right? You ask that guy up there to climb back down the rock to help you or you wait for the guy that's coming that way and ask him for help," Biffle said. "There's two ways of doing it. It's not just get me to back up or [he's] got to pit. There's lots of options, you know, to get stuff off your grille. And I had to get stuff off my grille several times."
One would think Edwards – who probably wasn't thinking much beyond the anger of a solid outing like Sunday getting torn apart by a couple of ill-timed, bad-luck incidents – will see the situation a bit clearer this week. His annoyance toward the bad luck is fine; but being unhappy about a perceived teammate slight just isn't doesn't fly.
Biffle did the right thing Sunday and it paid off. Better yet, fans saw a finish where the only thing that mattered was winning. It wasn't about teammates. It wasn't about loyalty. It was about getting to the checkered flag first.
HOT: Johnson may have driven too hard in the closing laps to cause his blown tire and subsequent 28th-place finish, but there's little doubt the No. 48 was as strong or stronger than any car in the field.
HOT: Joey Logano wasn't elated over his ninth-place finish, but he was pretty happy with the fact that his team has now recorded five top-10 finishes in a row. Don't be surprised if that team reels off a win or two soon.
NEUTRAL: For some reason, it wasn't surprising that Kurt Busch wrecked after an early pit stop dropped him from the lead. The No. 78 was really fast early in the 400-miler, but for some reason you just expected he would drive over his head at some point.
HOT: Saturday's rain-threatened Nationwide Series race was the best of the weekend. A lot of that was due to how the draft brought the cars together along the straightaway. A lot of that was also due to decreased corner speeds allowing cars to race closer together.
NEUTRAL: Dale Earnhardt Jr. now has two engine failures in the last four races. That's not quite a regular issue for Hendrick Motorsports, but it's getting there – especially for that reliable engine program.
HOT: Kevin Harvick, second Sunday, has yet to finish 14th or worse this season in a race without restrictor plates on the engine.
NOT: Bobby Labonte has probably had better weekends. First, he was dropped from the No. 47 temporarily as the team brought AJ Allmendinger in to help them assess its deficiencies. Then, he crashed the No. 51 he was driving in the race's opening laps. And finally, Allmendinger brought the No. 47 home to its best finish in six weeks (19th).
NOT: Kasey Kahne crashed while leading Sunday. Dale Earnhardt Jr. started suffering engine troubles while leading Sunday. That both race-changing, green-flag incidents happened during a full-screen TNT commercial break is both bad luck for TNT and unacceptable for the sport's health. Yes, NASCAR is a different beast. No, it doesn't have routine breaks. But at some point, that shouldn't matter anymore.
The Stenica Showdown Cup!
We're keeping track each week of how NASCAR's most important (only?) competitive couple performs against one another. The highest-finishing Sprint Cup result between Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. each week earns a point. Each driver can earn a bonus for doing just about anything else, racing related or not. We should probably start thinking about an appropriate trophy.
Sound the horn! Ring the bell! Good golly Miss Molly! Danica did it! She beat Ricky fair and square again in a race that both finished! And she scored a top-15! On a non-superspeedway! I don't know what to do with my hands! Point for Danica! Two points! Heck, three points for beating Ricky by three spots! This is is out control!
Ricky remains on probation from Charlotte.
1st - Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 14 points (16th at Michigan)
2nd - Danica Patrick., 12 points (13th at Michigan)
Next up: Sonoma! Join us Sunday at 3 p.m/ET on the Yahoo! Sports NASCAR Live Chat!
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- Greg Biffle
- Carl Edwards