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Biffle wins Sprint Cup in Michigan, No. 1,000 for Ford on birthday

BROOKLYN, Mich. — Greg Biffle gave Ford a milestone victory right down the road from company headquarters.

Biffle raced to his second straight Sprint Cup win at Michigan International Speedway, holding off Kevin Harvick to win the Quicken Loans 400 after points leader Jimmie Johnson smacked the wall in the final laps Sunday. It was the 1,000th victory for Ford Motor Co. across NASCAR's three national series: Cup, Nationwide and trucks.

"We couldn't be prouder to have this moment come here at Michigan in front of so many of our Ford friends," said Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing.

It was Biffle's first win since he overtook Johnson to win at MIS in August. Johnson's engine faltered with six laps left in that race. This time, he was about a second behind Biffle with three laps to go, but a tire gave way and he fell to 28th.

"I don't want to see anybody wreck," Biffle said. "It makes you feel good when you push the guy over the edge. He made a mistake, and that's what makes you feel good. You outsmarted him, or you beat him at his game."

Harvick was second, three seconds behind Biffle. Martin Truex was next, followed by Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart.

Johnson wasn't the only big name who ran into trouble. Jeff Gordon was out after he hit a spinning Bobby Labonte less than 10 laps into the 400-mile race. Gordon finished 39th, one spot behind Kasey Kahne, who led at the halfway point but appeared to blow a tire and slid into a wall. Kahne's car caught fire, but he climbed out quickly.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won at Michigan last June, was 37th Sunday. He led for 34 laps, but his engine acted up about two-thirds of the way into the race.

Biffle cruised to the finish in his No. 16 Ford. He finished second to Johnson the previous weekend at Pocono, but this time there was nobody left to challenge him at the end.

It was Ford's third Cup victory of the year after Carl Edwards won at Phoenix and David Ragan won at Talladega. Sunday was Ford Motor Co.'s 110th birthday.

Biffle's 19th career victory boosted his chances to reach the Chase for the Champion­ship, moving from 10th to eighth in the standings. He finished in the top 10 for the 13th time in 21 races at MIS, about 60 miles from Ford headquarters in Dearborn.

Johnson still has a comfortable lead in the standings, although Edwards closed the gap from 51 points to 31. Johnson had a chance before scraping the wall late. He still has never won a Cup race at MIS.

"I thought this would be the year," he said. "Most of the time we're leading and something happens, but I thought, 'Okay, maybe coming from behind would be the difference.' But something happened."

Denny Hamlin's No. 11 Toyota changed its paint scheme to the primarily white one used when Jason Leffler drove the car in 2005. The tribute was Hamlin's idea and approved by Joe Gibbs Racing and sponsor FedEx after Leffler's death Wednesday in a crash at a dirt track in New Jersey. He was 37.

"He was the reason FedEx came into the sport and it just made sense," Hamlin said.

Leffler drove 19 Cup races in 2005 with JGR as it launched the No. 11 as its third team.

Biffle acknowledged Leffler's 5-year-old son afterward. "We are thinking about little Charlie Leffler that doesn't have a father today," he said.

NHRA: John Force ended a 31-event winless streak, beating Cruz Pedregon in the Funny Car final at the Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tenn. Force, 64, raced to his record 135th career victory, a 4.148-second run at 305.29 mph. Steve Torrence won the Top Fuel event, and Rodger Brogdon took Pro Stock.

. fast facts

Sprint Cup points

After 15 of 36 races. The top 10 plus two wild cards after 26 races make the Chase for the Championship.

Driver Pts. Back

Jimmie Johnson 538—

Carl Edwards 507 31

Clint Bowyer 489 49

Kevin Harvick 476 62

Matt Kenseth 456 82

Kyle Busch 452 86

D. Earnhardt Jr. 447 91

Greg Biffle 443 95

Brad Keselowski 430 108

Tony Stewart 417 121

Note: Points unofficial; NASCAR posts official results today

Gearhead stats

Winner's average speed: 139.278 mph

Time of race: 2 hours, 52 minutes, 19 seconds

Margin of victory: 2.989 seconds

Caution flags: eight for 38 laps

Lead changes: 22 among 13 drivers

Lap leaders: Ku.Busch 1-21; J.Yeley 22; D.Ragan 23; M.McDowell 24; C.Edwards 25; J.Logano 26-42; J.McMurray 43-63; J.Johnson 64-76; D.Earnhardt Jr. 77; C.Mears 78-79; Earnhardt 80-89; K.Kahne 90-103; Johnson 104; Earnhardt 105-127; Johnson 128-131; G.Biffle 132; T.Kvapil 133-134; Logano 135; Edwards 136-150; Biffle 151-165; Logano 166-168; Biffle 169-200

Biffle wins Sprint Cup in Michigan, No. 1,000 for Ford on birthday 06/16/13 [Last modified: Monday, June 17, 2013 12:42am]

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