Brooklyn, MI – Greg Biffle capitalized on Jimmie Johnson's engine failure in the closing lap to win Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Johnson, who had to start from the rear of the field in the 400-mile race after an engine change on Saturday, held the lead with less than 10 laps remaining. But a plume of smoke came from the back of his car, as he slowed on the two-mile racetrack, allowing Biffle to pass him for the lead.
"You've got to be kidding me," Johnson said over his team radio.
Johnson had no comment while he was leaving the track.
Biffle passed second-place runner and Michigan-native Brad Keselowski for position just prior to Johnson's mishap.
"I was closing in on (Johnson), and I don't know if I would have got him in those eight laps or not, but it would have been a hell of a run to the end," Biffle said. "I found some speed in the top line down there in (turns) three and four and was coming on him. I don't know if I would have got there, but we will take them any way we can get them. We had a damn good car today."
Johnson's expired engine led to a caution and therefore setup a green-white- checkered finish. Biffle held off Keselowski in the two-lap overtime and beat him to the finish line by 0.4 seconds for his third win at Michigan.
"(Dale Earnhardt) Junior gave me a huge push for that win," Biffle said. "I have to thank him for that. I saw Brad laying back like always, and he got a little jump on me. It probably would have been leveled out by turn one."
Biffle also claimed his second win of the season and the 18th of his Sprint Cup Series career. He his first victory this year came in the spring race at Texas.
Keselowski's second-place run marked his career-best finish at Michigan.
"We had a fast car, but I just couldn't keep up with him," Keselowski said. "It felt good to be racing up there at my home track here in Michigan. There's nothing more I want than to win here."
Kasey Kahne finished third, followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Earnhardt Jr., who had to start from the rear of the field in a backup car. Earnhardt Jr. wrecked his primary vehicle in Saturday's final practice.
"I felt like I was under a lot of pressure," said Earnhardt Jr., who snapped his four-year, 143-race winless streak at Michigan in June. "I felt really bad last night about wrecking the car and all the work the guys had to do. They had to stay in the garage a little extra longer yesterday to get this car ready."
Marcos Ambrose, who won last weekend's road-course race in Watkins Glen, N.Y. completed the top-five.
A frightening crash occurred on lap 64 when pole sitter Mark Martin slid on pit road and then slammed sideways into the end of a pit wall. The wall sliced into the right side of his car, which created a small fire. Neither Martin nor any team members along pit road were injured during the incident.
Martin and Kahne wrecked coming out of turn four, where Bobby Labonte lost control and bumped into Juan Pablo Montoya, collecting Martin and Kahne in the process.
"The 47 (Labonte) got turned around there, and I got jammed up before the 5 (Kahne) got into the back of me," said Martin, who led 54 laps before his crash. "I'm disappointed that we got tore up, but man, what a hot rod."
While Johnson finished 27th, his Hendrick teammate, Jeff Gordon, also experienced a problem with his motor. His engine let go just before the halfway point.
"It's a valve spring," Gordon said. "It's something that when you come to Michigan and you turn these kinds of sustained rpm's on this fast of a track, it's always of concern here. And that bit us."
Tony Stewart, who utilizes engines from Hendrick, had a motor failure as well. Gordon finished 28th, while Stewart settled for 32nd.
Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard and Martin Truex Jr. finished sixth through 10th, respectively.
With the win, Biffle took over the points lead. He holds a 20-point advantage over teammate Matt Kenseth, who finished 17th. Biffle also gave Jack Roush his record 12th car owner victory at Michigan.
"It doesn't mean a lot to lead the points right now, but it does for us as a team," Biffle said.
With just three races left before the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship begins, Biffle is virtually assured of making NASCAR's playoffs this season.
"We're going to make a run at the title," he said. "I know they don't talk about us a lot, but they will when we get to Vegas (for the season-ending awards banquet)."
Kahne continues to hold the first wild card position, while Newman maintains the second and final wild card spot.
Bristol (Aug. 25), Atlanta (Sept. 2) and Richmond (Sept. 8) are those races remaining in the regular season.