Back in the Saddle: Greg Biffle Wins Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas
About six years ago, Greg Biffle was in the midst of a breakthrough season, nabbing six victories in a season where he placed runner-up to Tony Stewart in the championship chase.
During that magical season, Biffle won at Texas Motor Speedway in dominant fashion, pacing the field for 219 laps in his No. 16 Ford. That victory and his dominance on the intermediate speedways propelled him as a title contender.
Since then, it's been somewhat of the "dependable reliable" status for Biffle, a racer who's been good, but either lack of good luck or mediocre results on the track have produced middling races and seasons for the cagey veteran.
Heading into 2012, Biffle was coming off a disappointing NASCAR Sprint Cup campaign last season, finishing 16th and hardly a relevant name for the series trophy.
However, he's surely putting his name into the mix for this year's Cup, as his consistent ways aided him to a very convincing victory during Saturday night's Samsung Mobile 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway.
Starting third, Biffle's No. 16 3M Filterete Ford Fusion was mixing it up in the top-five all evening long, with very few adjustments needed for the Vancouver, WA native's strong steel chariot.
Mixing it up with Hendrick Motorsports' Jimmie Johnson towards the final third of the race for the lead, it was "The Biff" who outdueled and outmuscled "Five Time" for the win.
''I just dug deep. I knew I had to do it and kept trying and trying and trying,'' Biffle said, per AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins' race recap per Yahoo! Sports. ''I knew the team would forgive me if I wrecked it trying to beat him so I just gave it all I had.''
Aggressive but cunning, Biffle kept within pace of Johnson, whose No. 48 Lowe's Kobalt Chevrolet Impala was the class of the field.
Still, Biffle's Ford had enough muscle to make the decisive pass for the win and ultimately pull away for some Lone Star State glory.
As for Johnson, it was yet another close but no cigar race for his Hendrick Motorsports team, still denied at car owner Rick Hendrick's 200th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.
Sure, a runner-up finish helps in the points chase, but close only counts in horseshoes.
Still, after a rocky and controversial start to the 2012 season, Johnson wasn't all that disappointed with his solid race.
''It's nice to be running well. It's nice to be in this position,'' Johnson said. ''But I want to get back to our winning ways really soon.''
An atypical Texas Motor Speedway race, there were only two caution periods, which were both for debris on the track.
Otherwise, it was all green-flag racing, which resulted in the fastest race at the 16-year-old facility, as Biffle paced the field at a record average speed of 160.577 mph.
Competitors and crew members surmised that the long green-flag racing was attributed to the strong winds, which perhaps made double-file racing impossible. Couple that with the close competition in the Cup division and it produced a racer's race but for fans in the stands, it might have been a snoozer (or a fun first race for someone awesome).
Regardless, it was yet another amazing effort for Biffle, whose victory marked his fourth top-five and fifth top-10 finish through seven races in 2012.
Rounding out the top-10 finishers in the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway were Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, pole sitter Martin Truex, Jr., Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
For Gordon, it was a legit amazing race, as he started 34th and clawed his way back to contention, perhaps needing some caution flags to muster a challenge for the win. Still, a fourth place was what the 40-year-old four-time Cup champ needed.
"Great job guys. Really proud of you," Gordon said when crossing the start/finish line after the race.
Kurt Busch turned in a great effort in his No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet Impala, placing 13th, while Joey Logano made the most of a middling evening by finishing 19th.
Dave Blaney's No. 36 Jimmie Johnson's Anything With An Engine Chevrolet Impala was relegated to a 37th-place effort, slowed down by mechanical problems which befell "The Buckeye Bullet" and the Tommy Baldwin Racing efforts.
Kansas Speedway is the site of the round eight of 36 for the Sprint Cup gang, where they'll race in the second annual STP 400 next Sunday (Live 1 PM ET on FOX Sports).
Brad Keselowski looks to repeat his win from a year ago with a sorely needed victory, while Jeff Gordon hopes to nab a "W" in a somewhat dogged year.
Here's a look at the current "Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship Standings," including the current wild cards heading into next Sunday's race at Kansas:
- Greg Biffle (Roush-Fenway/Ford/1 win)
- Matt Kenseth (Roush-Fenway/Ford/1 win)
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Hendrick/Chevy)
- Martin Truex, Jr. (Waltrip/Toyota)
- Kevin Harvick (Childress/Chevy)
- Denny Hamlin (Gibbs/Toyota/1 win)
- Tony Stewart (Stewart-Haas/Chevy/1 win)
- Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick/Chevy)
- Ryan Newman (Stewart-Haas/Chevy/1 win)
- Clint Bowyer (Waltrip/Toyota)
- Carl Edwards (Roush-Fenway/Ford)
- Brad Keselowski (Penske/Dodge)