Commentary

Greg Biffle wins wild one at Michigan

Updated: August 19, 2012, 7:06 PM ET
By Terry Blount | ESPN.com

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Remember those old, lazy days on the giant racetrack in the Irish Hills when the cars often got spread out and ran endless green-flag laps without much happening?

Well, those days are gone, at least for now.

Greg Biffle held off Brad Keselowski and Kasey Kahne on a late restart and won a wild one Sunday, not something you hear much after a race at Michigan. But this is a new era on the new pavement that has changed the game on the 2-mile oval.

Consider several moments these 200 laps produced during and after the race:

• Mark Martin, who dominated the first third of the race, got caught up in a wreck in front of him and went sliding down pit road, slamming into the edge of a pit wall. The car caught fire when the explosive impact ripped a huge hole in his car, but -- fortunately -- not in Mark.

• Jeff Gordon, not one to often show his temper, was furious with teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. for a move to pass him during the race, leaving Earnhardt and team owner Rick Hendrick shocked at Gordon's ire.

• Jimmie Johnson had the race won with six laps to go before his engine went kaput. "You gotta be kidding me," Johnson said on his radio. He drove to the garage and left without comment. Johnson's blown motor was one of four engine failures for Hendrick Motorsports at Michigan, including two for Johnson's car. That just doesn't happen, but it did.

• Biffle's victory was the first for Ford since April, making Roush Fenway Racing the all-time leader at Michigan with 12 Cup wins, breaking a tie with the Wood Brothers.

• Keselowski insinuated once again that some cars (unnamed, but apparently Hendrick Motorsports) have new, movable parts that make the cars faster, but are borderline on legality.

[+] EnlargeGreg Biffle
Jared C. Tilton/Getty ImagesIt was a win-win kind of Sunday for Greg Biffle, who claimed the Sprint Cup points lead after taking the checkers in the Pure Michigan 400.

Frightening accidents, feuding teammates, shocking mechanical failures, a little history being made and even some intrigue and controversy. Now that's a show.

Biffle was the day's biggest beneficiary, thanks to Johnson's engine failure. But Biffle isn't so sure Johnson would have beaten him.

"I felt like I could have caught him," Biffle said. "Passing him? We'll never know.

"I was driving in too low in Turns 3 and 4, but then I went high and got a huge run. I pulled within five car lengths of Jimmie with eight laps to go. I could have gotten to his bumper, but I don't know if I could have gotten by him. I would have used his bumper if I had to. But we'll take it any way we can get it. I knew my car was badass, but didn't want to say anything until I got here [Victory Lane]."

Biffle, who has two victories in 2012, now is the season points leader. Johnson fell from first to fourth, thanks to a smoking motor. But Johnson still is viewed as the title favorite. Biffle takes issue with that thought.

"I know a lot of people don't expect us to win the title," Biffle said. "I don't care what they say. We will be a factor down to Homestead, I promise you that. If I'm not the story and not the person people are talking about, that's OK. They'll be forced to after Homestead."

Alrighty then. Not a guarantee, but a little Joe Namath moment to include in the crazy day here.

The Pure Michigan 400 arguably was the best race of the season on a large oval track. It had a little bit of everything, even an Earnhardt-Gordon spat.

Actually, Gordon was the only one angry after Earnhardt passed him. Gordon's path to the Chase just got a little tougher after his 28th-place finish Sunday when his engine failed.

Earnhardt, who won at Michigan in June, wrecked in practice Saturday and started in the back in a backup car that hadn't been on the track until the race started. He finished fourth.

"I felt pressure not to make any more mistakes," Earnhardt said. "I felt real bad [Saturday night] about wrecking the car and all the extra work the guys had to do. They poured through so many documents to get that car ready. They did an awesome job. It was fast today."

Keselowski also had a fast car, but he said he wasn't as fast as Johnson, Earnhardt and Biffle. And Keselowski doesn't see it as entirely fair.

"There are parts and pieces that are moving after inspection, making some cars more competitive," Keselowski said. "Some have it and some don't. There's a question on the interpretation of the rule if it's legal. At Penske Racing, we err of the safe side and don't want to be caught red-handed."

A bit clandestine, but certainly adding to the zaniness of a day at Michigan that was anything but boring.

And like Biffle, Keselowski made a little prediction of his own, but Brad made a direct challenge to Johnson.

"The 48 [Johnson] has the most speed, but it's my job not to roll over and give it to them," Keselowski said. "We're going to keep them honest in the Chase."

So the guy who blew an engine and left in a huff was the one the first- and second-place finishers say they are ready to beat in a championship playoff that's still a month from starting.

This was fun. Welcome to the new Michigan International Speedway, where feuding, boasting, accusing, wrecking and meaningful passing all were part of the show.

Can we place an order now for a few more races just like this one?

Terry Blount

ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter

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