Saving equipment and saving fuel while trying to run down the leader sounds like an impossible task with impossible odds, but that is exactly what Greg Biffle had to do in order to take the checkered flag in Texas last night for the Samsung Mobile 500. Johnson had led a total of 156 laps when Biffle finally passed him with only 34 laps to go, taking advantage of the only mistake Johnson had made all night when he brushed the wall and lost momentum after the pass to extend his lead to where Johnson could not catch him.
“I just dug deep,” Biffle said. “I knew I had to do it and kept trying and trying and trying. I knew the team would forgive me if I wrecked it trying to beat him, so I gave it all I had.”
This is Biffle first win since Oct 3, 2010 at Kansas breaking a 49 race winless streak, and the first win with crew chief Matt Puccia.
“I could say it’s about time,” said Biffle, “But I’m just thankful to be able to drive these cars, as fast as they are. We knew it was a matter of time that we were going to win one soon — we’ve been running so good.”
“I was a little short on fuel, so I kind of lifted a little early and let the car roll down through the corners. When he started catching a little bit of traffic, that’s when I started going.”
“I just pushed as hard as I could, and I was driving the thing sideways around the corner trying to catch him. I could tell I was catching him, and he had a little trouble with traffic.”
In fact Jimmie Johnson, who took his 5th runner up finish of his career in Texas, was taking offense to the way the cars who were laps down were racing him near the end.
“Man, second sucks — I wish we could have won,” Johnson said. “I’m definitely disappointed but we had a great race car and there’s a lot to be proud of here. Our pit stops were just amazing all night long. We had a very, very fast race car and a little bit more respect through some lapped traffic … it could’ve been a little different.”
“When I caught lapped traffic, some guys that were multiple laps down didn’t show much respect for myself, the leader,” said Johnson. “Before I knew it, the No. 16 [Biffle] was there inside of me and got by.
“We ran with him for the next eight or 10 laps, and then I made a mistake into [Turn] 3 and hit the fence. At that point, I just needed to make sure I brought it home. A great night, all in all. I certainly wish we could be in Victory Lane, but we’ll try again next week.”
“We’ve been really close over the last five or six months,” said Johnson. “You look through last year, even through different points, leading a lot of races and didn’t execute at the end for whatever reason.
“It’s nice to be running well. It’s nice to be in this position. But I want to get back to our winning ways really soon.”
Johnson led Team Hendrick with the best finish but all 4 Hendrick cars finished inside the top 10. Gordon finished 4th, Kasey Kahne finished 7th and Dale Jr, who has been the most consistent Hendrick driver this season, finished in 10th and tied for 2nd place in overall points now with Matt Kenseth.
Kasey Kahne was sure that the 48 car was going to get the 200th win for Handrick Motorsports but is just was not in the cards.
“I thought Jimmie had it [Saturday] night,” Kahne said. “I wasn’t worried about it, I thought it was over. Every time I looked up there the No. 48 was leading. Then, I guess 15 [laps] to go I looked up and the No. 16 was leading. Then I thought ‘well maybe not.’
“Those guys have been working hard since before I got here. They’ve been trying to get that 200th. It would be great to get it soon. Any one of the four, we need to get it done and get past that.”
Jeff Gordon is also feeling the pressure for wanting to be the driver who scores that win for Rick Hendrick.
“I’m thinking about it all of the time, and Rick reminds us all the time that it would be nice to get that out of the way,” Jimmie Johnson said. “Man, we’ve been all around it and had a lot of shots at it, and unfortunately just haven’t been able to pull it off.”
“It’s on all of our minds. It’s pressure. We know that Rick doesn’t come to every single race, and right now he’s coming to every race, because he doesn’t want to miss that 200th, and none of us want him to,” Gordon said.
“We’ll keep digging, we’ll keep trying. And we know it’s going to happen — I mean, our teams are just too good, and we’re running too good. We know it’s going to happen, it’s just when. It would be nice to kind of get that one out of the way, because it is somewhat becoming this heavy load that we’re carrying.”
Next week takes us to Kansas for the STP 400, starting at 12:30 pm on Sunday. Coverage will still be carried by Fox.