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Biffle takes victory in record-setting Texas race

April 15, 2012, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Johnson leads the most laps but No. 16 passes for lead with 30 to go

Saving his equipment for the final green-flag run, Sprint Cup Series points leader Greg Biffle finally put a win on the board, cruising to a 3.235-second victory over Jimmie Johnson in Saturday night's Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Biffle took the lead on Lap 304 of 334 and pulled away to win his first race since Oct. 3, 2010 (at Kansas), his second at Texas and the 17th of his career. Johnson, who led a race-high 156 laps, scraped the wall trying to run down Biffle in the late going.

"I knew the team would forgive me if I wrecked it trying to beat [Johnson], so I gave it all I had."

--GREG BIFFLE

"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."

Mark Martin came home third, followed by Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth. With Kasey Kahne finishing seventh and Dale Earnhardt Jr. 10th, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers ran in the top 10, but Biffle denied them their most coveted prize, a 200th Cup victory for team owner Rick Hendrick.

The victory was the first in the Cup Series for Biffle's crew chief, Matt Puccia.

"I could say it's about time," said Biffle, who snapped a 49-race winless streak. "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."

Video: Final Laps | Victory Lane | Post-Race Reactions

From the moment he passed pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr. for the lead on Lap 180, Johnson was dominant, as Biffle chased the five-time champion lap after lap through three cycles of green-flag pit stops.

Biffle frequently gained ground when Johnson hit traffic, but the margin would expand when Johnson got to clean air. The lead stayed at roughly one second -- give or take -- and by the time the race hit Lap 300, Martin in third at 7.8 seconds back was the only other driver within 10 seconds of the leader.

With 34 laps left, however, Biffle turned up the wick. On Lap 304, as Johnson tried to work his way through traffic, the series leader made the pass for the top spot, streaking to the inside of Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet as the cars approached the start/finish line.

Biffle said he was "foaming at the mouth" with Johnson in his sights, but he had to conserve fuel and save his tires for the first few laps of the final run after his last pit stop.

"I was a little short on fuel, so I kind of lifted a little early and let the car roll down through the corners," said Biffle, who expanded his series lead to 19 points over Earnhardt and Kenseth. "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."

Johnson took issue with drivers of lapped cars -- particularly the No. 39 of Ryan Newman -- who Johnson felt failed to show the respect due a race leader.

"When I caught lapped traffic, some guys that were multiple laps down didn't show much respect for myself, the leader," said Johnson, who posted his fifth runner-up finish against one victory at Texas. "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."

The race featured only two cautions and ended with a green-flag run of 234 laps. That was a race record, as were the average speed (160.577 mph), fewest number of cautions and fewest number of caution laps (10).

Notes ... Hendrick put four cars in the top 10 for the first time since last year's spring race at Talladega; Roush Fenway Racing earned its series-best ninth Cup win at Texas; and Both Johnson and Martin posted their 13th top-10 at TMS, Johnson in 18 starts, Martin in 23.

Notes-N-Nuggets

• Greg Biffle earned his 17th career Cup Series victory in his 337th start.
• It was Greg Biffle's second Texas win; he is the sixth multiple-race winner at the track.
• Greg Biffle's previous win came at Kansas in Oct. 2010, 49 races ago.
• The victory was Greg Biffle's eighth consecutive top-10 finish at Texas, the longest current streak.
• Greg Biffle led seven times for 90 laps, including the final 31, and now leads teammate Matt Kenseth by 19 points in the Cup Series standings.
• This was the 127th Cup victory for Roush Fenway Racing and its ninth at Texas, six more than any other team.
• Jimmie Johnson (second) finished second at Texas for the fourth time since his Nov. 2007 victory; his 156 laps led were the most of all drivers.
• Mark Martin (third) earned his third top-10 finish in five starts this season.
• Jeff Gordon (fourth) picked up his best finish of 2012 and only his second top-10.
• Matt Kenseth (fifth) finished in the top five for the 11th time at Texas, the most of all drivers.
• Martin Truex Jr. (sixth) earned his fourth consecutive top-10 finish, his longest streak of his career.
• Carl Edwards (eighth) rebounded after a loose lug nut dropped him to 30th for the Lap 101 restart.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. (10th) earned his fifth top-10 finish in seven races this season; it was his third consecutive top-10 at Texas.
• Track records were set for fewest cautions (two) and average speed (160.577 mph).
• The final 234 laps were run under green.

Watch highlights from the Samsung Mobile 500: