Biffle takes checkered flag in Michigan, gives Ford Motor Co. 1,000th victory
Back-to-back NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories by Greg Biffle was a pretty good reason for his crew to party in victory lane after taking the checkered flag at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) in the Quicken Loans 400 on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 16. Tag onto that the win was Ford Motor Company’s 1,000th victory and Biffle had all the ingredients needed for a historic celebration in victory lane.
Biffle won last year in August by outrunning Brad Keselowski in the last two laps but this year it at least appeared he was helped to the victory by several other drivers, specifically Hendrick Motorsports wheelmen, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Johnson and his Chevy ran into a bit of bad luck, and the wall, after blowing a tire when closing in on Biffle with just two laps remaining. Last year Johnson ran out of gas when leading with just eight laps left.
With Johnson out of the picture again this year, Biffle easily cruised to the victory and into victory lane at MIS in 21 races and his 19th win overall in 381 Sprint Cup races.
“I knew the 48 [Johnson] was really fast,” Biffle said. “I was really worried about the 48 but once this car got in clean air it was all over. The guy [Johnson] started 10th and was behind me with 10 to go. That’s a really fast racecar. We’re not to that level yet but we’re sure a lot closer than we have been. This is really exciting to win the 1,000th for Ford.”
Johnson has never won a Sprint Cup race at Michigan after 23 attempts. He led the pack for 16 laps this year.
“We just struggled with maintaining track position but I had a fast car and I could drive up through there and I would get to first or second and then a caution would come out,” Johnson said. “I hate having that problem at the end.
“I had run the car really hard to get through all those guys and must have worn through that right front tire with two laps to go and it went down in turn one.”
Kevin Harvick placed second in the June Father’s Day race while Martin Truex Jr. was third. Kyle Busch crossed the finish line in fourth place while Tony Stewart finished fifth.
Danica Patrick started the race in the 37th position but placed 13th in her first NASCAR race at MIS.
Kahne held the lead position for Henrick Motor Sports with 97 laps remaining but his car hit the wall hard and caught fire. He finished the race in 38th place.
His teammate, Earnhardt, Jr., was hoping to repeat last year’s June performance in Michigan with another win but it just didn’t pan out. He was leading on lap 127 when his “Superman” sponsored Chevrolet engine blew up. Earnhardt, Jr., wound up a spot in front of Kahne at 37th overall.
Bobby Labonte lost control of his Chevrolet on lap seven and slid in front of Gordon for the first caution of the race, crashing into him and causing serious damage to No. 24. Gordon’s Chevrolet eventually returned to the track, but failed to finish the race.
The second caution of the race came when Kurt Busch’s No. 78 Chevy touched the wall after he led 21 laps. He started second but passed the pole sitter, Carl Edwards, on the first lap. Edwards placed eighth in his No. 99 Ford Fusion.
Biffle’s win, on Ford Motor Co.’s 110 birthday, gave Roush Fenway Racing the record for the most wins by any team at MIS, the fastest track in NASCAR, with 13.
“MIS had been a great race track and we’ve had a lot of success here over the years,” team owner Jack Roush said. “I was as proud to help Ford win its 1,000th race in NASCAR as I was to win the race here on the 100th anniversary of the Ford Motor Company that Greg won as well. Those are two milestones that I’ve been very proud to be a part of.”