News & Media

Biffle storms to pole for Pure Michigan 400

August 19, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service,

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Greg Biffle found a rocket ship when he needed it most.

Battling for a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Biffle scorched Michigan International Speedway with a lap at 190.345 mph (37.826 seconds) to win the pole for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400, the 23rd Cup race of the season.

"For me to get a pole, all the stars have got to line up, and they did today."


In winning the seventh Coors Light pole award of his career and his first since 2008, Biffle edged Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth (190.209 mph) during Friday's time trials at the 2.0-mile track.

Ryan Newman (189.573 mph) qualified third, followed by Denny Hamlin (189.294 mph) and Mark Martin (189.190 mph). Brad Keselowski, David Ragan, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Jamie McMurray will start from positions six through 10, respectively.

"It takes the right combination," Biffle said of his qualifying effort. "It takes the right qualifying draw, which now is set by practice time. It takes a perfect lap, weather -- everything plays a factor. For me to get a pole, all the stars have got to line up, and they did today.

"I just looked at it [on a monitor in the media center], and Matt was almost a 10th [of a second] better than me in the middle of [Turns] 3 and 4, but it looked like he was scared to push the gas down. That's why I'm up front."

"I owed him one," Kenseth quipped.

Winless this season, Biffle is 13th in the Cup standings, 49 points behind 10th-place Tony Stewart, who qualified 18th. Earnhardt, ninth in points, got his last victory in the Series at Michigan in June 2008.

With a new engine under his hood -- and without sacrificing speed for durability -- Hamlin held the top spot until Newman, Biffle and Kenseth bettered his speed late in the session.

Hamlin came to Michigan with an engine shipped to Joe Gibbs Racing from Toyota Racing Development in California, the first volley from the recently announced engine collaboration between the two organizations. Kyle Busch, who qualified 17th, had a JGR engine under the hood of his No. 18 Toyota, as will be the case for the rest of the season.

"I just can't say enough for everyone at TRD and Joe Gibbs Racing putting this deal together," said Hamlin, who has started from the rear of the field four times this season because of pre-race engine issues.


• Greg Biffle earns his seventh career pole in his 317th race.
• Biffle's last pole came at Dover in June 2008.
• Biffle becomes the 15th different pole winner of 2011.
• Biffle will make his seventh top-10 start this season.
• Matt Kenseth (second) earns his fifth top-10 start at Michigan; he's looking for his third win of 2011.
• Ryan Newman (third) earns his best Michigan start since his pole in June 2004; he finished sixth at Michigan in June.
• Denny Hamlin (fourth) earns his best start at Michigan in 12 races; he won here in June.
• Mark Martin (fifth) is a five-time winner at Michigan, most among active drivers.
• Brad Keselowski (sixth) has gained nine positions in the past three races, from 23rd to 14th in points.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. (eighth) has his best time trial this season on non-restrictor plate tracks.
• Jimmie Johnson (19th) is making his 350th Cup start. He has never won at Michigan in 19 starts at the track.

Carl Edwards, tied with Busch for the Series points lead, starts 22nd Sunday. Johnny Sauter, Erik Darnell and T.J. Bell failed to qualify for the 43-car field.