Greg Biffle on a mission at Texas
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Exciting it wasn't, not that Greg Biffle cares.
He made it clear on Friday that being the points leader this season wasn't good enough for him.
"Leading the points is great," Biffle said. "But what we care about most is winning."
Biff now has what he wanted. And he may be the only person who got what he or she wanted Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway.
That Bristol race three weeks ago, the one so many of you complained about for its lack of excitement, looks like a thriller in comparison to this one.
I never thought I would see the day when a race on the superfast and dangerous TMS oval went the distance without a single wreck.
"That's unprecedented," said winning team owner Jack Roush. "But it's a testament to how well the cars are prepared, the drivers, and what a good tire we've got."
Maybe too good. The race sailed through the final 234 laps without a caution, 112 laps more than the previous TMS record.
Saturday was a level of caution freedom that hasn't happened in this century. The last time a superspeedway race went more than 200 consecutive green-flag laps without a caution was 1999 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, before the track was reconfigured.
Juan Pablo Montoya punting a water bottle, a tiny explosion compared with a jet dryer collision, was the thrill of the night.
Biffle made a nice move down low to pass Johnson for the lead with 30 laps to go, a rare moment of side-by-side racing on a windy night when cars spread out single file. It was a parade of high-speed boredom unsurpassed in 2012.
The race was fast, as you might expect. It set a Texas record for average speed at 160.577 mph. The Samsung Mobile 500 had only two cautions, three fewer than any TMS race in the past.
And no one came close to wrecking until Johnson banged the wall with 15 laps to go, pushing it a little too hard to try to catch Biffle. Johnson still managed to keep the 48 running straight and finished second, but that 200th win for team owner Rick Hendrick remains on hold.
Look, I'm not lobbying for wrecks and cautions, but this race needed something, anything, to spice things up.
Before it started, most people in the Cup garage thought the wind could cause problems. It was gusting over 35 mph at times, but when no cars are running close to each other, blustery wind isn't a big deal unless someone sees an April funnel cloud racing across the North Texas prairie.
"The wind was brutal," Biffle said. "I was cautious when I was around cars and I think everybody else was."
Boring or busting the seams with drama, Biffle will take it. He ended his 49-race winless streak and gave notice that the No. 16 Ford team means business this season.
I was bound and determined to put this Ford back in Victory Lane. And I'm so excited to get my first win as a dad.” -- Greg Biffle
Biffle has consistently run up front this year, but until you win one, people doubt your ability to seriously contend for the title. Most of those doubters will disappear now.
"That certainly makes a statement, I think, to all the people who thought this was a fluke that we were leading the points," Biffle said. "I was foaming out the mouth for this. I was driving my heart out tonight."
Biffle knew one victory can make all the difference in how people view his chances.
"I was bound and determined to put this Ford back in Victory Lane," Biffle said. "And I'm so excited to get my first win as a dad."
Biffle's wife, Nicole, gave birth to their daughter, Emma, last July. Saturday night also was a first Cup win for crew chief Matt Puccia, who Biffle says has made his team championship caliber again.
But winning at Texas is nothing new for Roush Fenway Racing. This was the ninth time a Roush driver has won in 23 TMS races and the second time for Biffle, who won here in 2005.
Biffle also knew he had a real shot at this one because of Roush's history at TMS. But he didn't know if he could catch Johnson, who led 156 laps and was out front on a follow-the-leader night.
"I was worried about that," Biffle said. "I closed a bunch on the last pit stop. We were close on fuel and I knew it was going to be a long [green-flag] run to the end.
"I was driving sideways around the corners trying to catch him, and I could tell I was catching him. He got in some lapped traffic and I got my shot. When I got underneath him, I was surprised how easy it was."
It was easy at the end, but unexciting from start to finish. Every race can't have the wow factor. Ending a 49-race winless streak was enough of a wow moment for Biffle.
"That can wear on ya," Biffle said of the winless streak. "It will take years off your life, and I think I've lost a couple. So it's about time. Hard work pays off still today. That's what this is about."
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