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Biffle propels Coca-Cola to another victory

August 20, 2012, Andrew Shain, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

The Coca-Cola Racing Family won its ninth race with Greg Biffle's victory at Michigan. The gang has taken the checkered flag in nearly 40 percent of this season's events.

Biffle won his second race of the year and recaptured the series points lead that he held for several weeks early in the season.

The Coca-Cola Racing Family again put five drivers in the top 20 at Michigan this year. Biffle was joined Sunday by Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Burton and Ryan Newman -- who held onto the final opening for the Chase.

Greg Biffle

Michigan finish: First

Season standings: First

Biffle reached the top of the heap for the day and the season with a little luck -- mainly bad for Jimmie Johnson. Biffle, who came into the race with the best average running position at Michigan in the past seven-plus seasons, powered from a 13th-place start into the top five within 70 laps. He won after Johnson's engine failed with six laps to go. Biffle posted more fastest laps than any racer Sunday. Biffle has won more races at Michigan (three) than any other track in his career. He leads the standings by 20 points.

What he said: "I told [crew chief] Matt [Puccia] that if we could get out front we could win with this car. Once I passed a car I could run the next guy down by a half-a-second a lap. ... Well, I know that a lot of people don't expect us to win the championship and don't expect us to compete for the title but I don't care what they say or who they want to talk about or what they want to talk about. We will be a factor when it comes down to Homestead. I promise you that."

Ryan Newman

Michigan finish: Eighth

Season standings: 13th

Newman is on a roll that could land him in the Chase. At Michigan, he suffered through flu-like symptoms and a loose-handling car that forced him to recover at least four times after falling outside the top-20. He gained nine spots in the final 30 laps for his sixth consecutive top-11 result. He has an average finish of 7.8 in the past six races -- seven places better than his season norm. Newman holds the final wild-card Chase spot by 11 points with three races to go.

What he said: "I'm actually better now than I was getting into the race car. I think adrenaline takes over for most of that part. We need to win no doubt but if we can manage those others guys, we are doing a good thing. ... I think we had a 10th-place car [Sunday] and we finished eighth, so that's a bonus."

Denny Hamlin

Michigan finish: 11th

Season standings: 10th

Hamlin is hanging onto the final automatic Chase spot. He qualified 21st and wrestled with an ill-handling car early in the race. But with some adjustments, Hamlin managed to slide into the top 10 after 70 laps. He was able to keep track position through the remainder of the event and collect his first top-15 finish in three races. He is 33 points ahead on 11th place with three races to go.

What he said: "We didn't run very well. We were a 15th- or 20th-place car most of the day and through attrition and what not, we got a good finish. We definitely have a lot of work to do I feel like on all aspects of our car right now. ... I think we ran better than what we did here the first time, but still this is kind of a one off track in the sense that we don't have any tracks like this in the Chase."

Other Coca-Cola drivers (listed in order of finish): Jamie McMurray spent some time in the top 10 after battling back from a cut tire, but he was caught on a caution right after pitting. He managed to finish 14th -- his best result in five races. He sits 19th in the standings. ... Jeff Burton yo-yoed after starting 32nd and got as high as seventh, but he fell back late to 19th. Like McMurray, it was his best finish in five races. Burton is 20th in the points. ... Bobby Labonte overcame a Lap 65 wreck to finish 22nd and stay 24th in the season standings. ... Joey Logano's crash on Lap 90 left him with 31st-place finish. He remains 18th in the standings and one win away from snaring a Chase wild card. ... A broken valve spring left Tony Stewart with a season-worst finish of 32nd. He dropped a position in the standings to ninth and stands 34 points inside an automatic Chase spot.

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