Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Sports

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.

Comments
do your thing, mr. do-it-all

do your thing, mr. do-it-all

TAMPA — He’s the Lightning’s best player. He’s its most important player.Well, other than goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. That’s a given. Every team relies most heavily on its goalie.But if the Lightning is going win a nerve-racking, heart-stopping, nail-...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Gerald McCoy appreciates help on D-line, but knows it will take more than names on paper

Gerald McCoy appreciates help on D-line, but knows it will take more than names on paper

TAMPA — He's 30."I know. I'm getting old," Gerald McCoy said Tuesday, shaking his head.He's still a young man, of course. But in football years, McCoy has finally reached a black balloon birthday. This is his ninth season with the Bucs, which i...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning journal: You gotta love Game 7s

Lightning journal: You gotta love Game 7s

TAMPA — Welcome to Game 7, the most fun a player can have if he's fortunate enough to play in one. At least, that is how Lightning D Anton Stralman sees tonight's Eastern Conference final finale."I take pleasure in playing a Game 7," Stralman s...
Updated: 1 hour ago
FSU starter Josh Ball faces Title IX suspension over dating violence accusation

FSU starter Josh Ball faces Title IX suspension over dating violence accusation

Florida State starting offensive tackle Josh Ball faces a university suspension after a Title IX investigation found him responsible for dating violence.The suspension came to light in a Facebook post Monday afternoon by Sandra Sellers, an FSU studen...
Updated: 1 hour ago
HBO: Ex-Buc Scot Brantley battling Alzheimer’s, claim denied by NFL

HBO: Ex-Buc Scot Brantley battling Alzheimer’s, claim denied by NFL

Former Gators and Bucs linebacker Scot Brantley, also once a popular sports radio host in Tampa, is battling Alzheimer's Disease and has been rejected from the NFL's concussion settlement, according to tonight's episode of HBO's "Real Sports with Bry...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay’s Game 7 Mr. Essential

Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay’s Game 7 Mr. Essential

TAMPA — He's the Lightning's best player. He's its most important player.Well, other than goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. That's a given. Every team relies most heavily on its goalie.But if the Lightning is going win a nerve-racking, heart-stopping,...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay’s Game 7 to-do list

Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay’s Game 7 to-do list

TAMPA — By now there are no more secretes. After six games over 11 days, the Lightning know all the Capitals' habits , and the Caps know all the Lightning's.To Lightning coach Jon Cooper the outcome of tonight's Game 7 of the Eastern Conference...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Academy at the Lakes wins first state softball title

Academy at the Lakes wins first state softball title

VERO BEACH —Academy at the Lakes waited two weeks to play in the Class 2A state softball tournament in hopes of winning what has been an elusive title.The Wildcats completed the first task Monday, cruising to a mercy-rule win over Fort Pierce John Ca...
Updated: 2 hours ago
For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Faria on the mound

For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Faria on the mound

UPDATE, 6:04: Cash said the Rays don't know yet if Wendle will be  back Thursday or Friday, though with the Sox starting RHP Rick Porcello on Thursday that would make sense. …  Cash said OF Carlos Gomez (groin strain) will run the bas...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs’ Mike Evans: Yards after catch must improve in 2018

Bucs’ Mike Evans: Yards after catch must improve in 2018

Mike Evans is one of just three receivers in NFL history to open his career with four straight 1,000-yard seasons, but he understands one area where he can make a big improvement in 2018: yards after the catch."I think last year was my worst year in ...
Updated: 3 hours ago