Johnson blows, Biffle celebrates after winning Pure Mich 400
Jimmie Johnson looked to have the Pure Michigan 400 sewn up in his back pocket as the leader of the NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, Aug. 19, with just five laps remaining. But a puff of blue-white smoke coming from under No. 48’s hood dashed Johnson’s dream of picking up his first win on the Sprint Cup Series’ fastest track.
Johnson blew his engine, putting Greg Biffle and Michigan’s own Brad Keselowski side by side to fight it out in a green-white-checker two-lap run to the finish line and the “Biff” pulled out in front and took the checkered flag.
Johnson was running strong and was more than able to keep Biffle, and everyone else, at arms length before his engine failed.
“I was driving in too low down there (Turns 1 and 2) so I went to the top in three and four and I could get a huge run on him,” Biffle said. “I pulled in about five car lengths on him and then his motor went out. With eight laps to go I could have gotten to his bumper I think, but I don’t know if I could have gotten by him. I would have used the bumper if I had to if I got to him.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was sitting right behind Biffle on the final green flag restart while Kasey Kahne was behind Keselowski.
“Junior [Dale Earnhardt Jr.] gave me a huge push on the restart for that win,” Biffle said. “I have to thank him for that. I saw Brad laying back like always and he got a little jump on me. It probably would have been leveled out by turn one.”
The Pole sitter, Mark Martin dominated the beginning of the race, leading the first 40 laps and 56 of the first 65. Unfortunately his fast Aaron’s Dream Machine sponsored Toyota was involved in a wild wreck on lap 65 when he got caught in a crash that involved Bobby Labonte, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kasey Kahne. Labonte’s Toyota got loose and went sideways in front of a stacked up Montoya, Martin and Kahne causing the dangerous accident. Martin lost control of his car with a bump from the rear by Kahne and slid sideways from the driver’s side into a wall in pit lane, ending his day. He struck the end of the pit wall and the car severely buckled in where the car slammed into the concrete barrier just behind the driver’s compartment. Fortunately, Martin was uninjured and gave an interview right after getting out of the car.
“Had no one tore the car up in that accident, we still had a car that could contend,” Martin said of the incident. “It’s unfortunate. I fought it with everything I had, but with where I came from off the track and the speed that I came from and the confines of pit road, I couldn’t miss it.”
With the win in the Pure Michigan 400, Biffle has a sound chance to solidify entrance in the championship race at the end of the season as the new points leader. The victory was his second of the season and third at MIS.
“We’re going to make a run for the title,” Biffle said. “I know they don’t talk about us a lot, but they will when we get to Vegas [site of the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship awards banquet].”
Biffle beat Keselowski by approximately five car lengths to give Roush Fenway Racing team its 12th win at Michigan and the outright record for most all-time victories at the track, breaking a tie with the Wood Brothers.
Kahne crossed the finish line in third place, followed by Earnhardt Jr., fourth, and Marcos Ambrose, fifth.
Rounding out the top ten finishers were Carl Edwards (99), Clint Bowyer (15), Ryan Newman (39), Paul Menard (27) and Martin Truex Jr. (56).