Racin with Russ - Greg Biffle took advantage of Jimmy Johnson’s blown engine late in Sunday afternoon’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race to earn Ford a win for the first time in four years in Michigan.
The win, Biffle’s 18th career victory, became significant as he regains a 21-point lead over teammate Matt Kenseth and 28 points over Johnson with just three races remaining before the Chase battle begins.
The sunny afternoon event started with Mark Martin leading the pack to the stripe for the 55th time in his career, but just first time in Michigan. The 53-year-old veteran ran away and easily led the field for the first 66 laps before coming upon the lapped cars of Bobby Labonte and Juan Montoya. His white and blue Toyota had no where to go but into the two cars—then he had help getting turned around by Kasey Kahne.
Martin's No. 55 car then went for a wild ride towards pit lane, where it spun around and smacked the end of the pit lane wall with a resounding thud, right behind the driver, nearly cutting the car in half. Pit crew members scrambled, the car went in the air briefly then caught fire before NASCAR officials quickly extinguished the flames.
Martin was OK, but the car was toast in more ways than one, a shame considering how fast it had been and that there are only so many opportunities for a part-time driver to be in a lead position.
Once underway, Kenseth took control of the race with Craig Bowyer and fellow MWR teammate Martin Truex Jr. nearby. All the while, Roush teammates Biffle and Carl Edwards were running among the top 10 and often the top five.
Who will qualify for the Chase?
Twenty laps later, Montoya had yet another run in, this one with Joey Logano, who wound up in the outside wall twice before leaving the track. Montoya couldn't have made any friends today and was called to the NASCAR hauler following the end of the race.
With 50 laps remaining, Dale Earnhardt Jr. entered the fray and led for several several laps, with Johnson, Kahne, Biffle and Brad Keselowski running among the top five.
Ten laps later, Johnson zoomed by teammate Earnhardt with ease. Keselowski took a shot out front before Johnson regained the lead with 10 circuits to go, heading for what appeared to be his fourth win of the season.
With six laps remaining, Johnson’s car started to chug and slow as Biffle zipped by for the final time and into the winner’s circle. Finishing not far behind Biffle were Keselowski, Kahne, Earnhardt Jr., Marcos Ambrose and Edwards.
It was certainly a bad day for Hendrick Motorsports as three motors hand-grenaded, the result of bad valve springs. The ‘unfortunates’ included Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Johnson, who actually had two engines let go for the whole weekend.
Stewart slipped to 10th in the Chase standings and Gordon fell to 16th.
The road race in Montreal for the Nationwide series was another barnburner with numerous lead changes and more beatin’ and bangin’ than a Saturday night local short-track race.
With race-long leader and hometown favorite Jacques Villeneuve running on fumes during the final lap, Justin Allgaier went on to win his first Nationwide race of the year, his third career trophy. Finishing behind Allgaier were Sam Hornish Jr., Villeneuve, Elliott Sadler and road-race ace Ron Fellows.
Villeneuve was skunked once again after leading for many laps and having the car fail him. Eight caution periods for 22 laps slowed the action down, but overall, it was a great event.
Sadler’s top-five finish keeps him atop the standings, now 22 markers ahead of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Hornish Jr.
Camping World Trucks
Despite Kurt Busch leading most of this race at Michigan, the event turned into a gas economy run in the closing stages with several teams rolling the dice on enough go-juice to run the distance. Nelson Piquet Jr. wound up as the winner, his first career trophy in this division, besting the likes of Jason White, Dakoda Armstrong, Parker Kligerman and James Buescher.
When will A.J. Allmnedinger regain his NASCAR license?
Busch wound up an undeserving ninth.
As reported by ESPN.com's David Newton, an unnamed source recently commented on A.J. Allmendinger’s claim to have ingested just one Adderall pill (which resulted in failed a NASCAR drug test) is more than likely false. In addition, A.J.’s claim that he will complete NASCAR’s Road to Recovery plan in just one month is more than likely not going to happen.
I’m no doctor, but I tend to agree with both concepts.
One little pill to have lasting results 2-3 days later and only one month on the ‘Road’? There’s more to this story than meets the eye. We’ll see how it all works out and maybe find out the real story someday.
That’s it for this week. Next week, Race With Russ will review the NASCAR Truck, Cup and Nationwide action from the newly revamped Bristol Motor Speedway along with more racing news from around the globe.