Greg Biffle: High Roller in the Wreck Fest of Las Vegas
The Nationwide Series headed to Viva Las Vegas for the third race of the 2009 season.
Scott Speed started his Nationwide Series career from the pole, making him the only ninth driver to do so. Speed would have a strong start, leading the first two laps of the event before Kevin Harvick passed him.
Harvick would lead until Lap 7 when Denny Hamlin spun exiting Turn Four. Hamlin would collected Brad Keselowski and Mike Bliss, but both drivers made repairs and continued on.
Over the next 20 laps, the caution flag waved three more times. Once again for the unlucky Brad Keselowski, who cut a tire and hit the wall in Turn Three, on Lap 16.
That caution was fallowed a multi-car incident on Lap 22 started by a loose Kyle Busch hoping to take the lead from Harvick. Busch ended up making hard contact with the Turn Four wall. Busch casualties would include Brendan Gaughan, David Ragan and third place Scott Speed.
The third caution flag, on Lap 27 was in response the rookie driver John Wes Townley's hard crash. The leaders all took advantage by hitting pit road for the first time. Greg Biffle taking only fuel made a notably fast pit stop. Mike Bliss stated out to gain the lead as he and nine other drivers had pitted under an earlier caution. Bliss would ultimately loss his lead to Harvick on Lap 48.
Harvick stayed at the head of the field for a handful of laps, but wouldn’t be able to hold off the hard charging Carl Edwards on Lap 56. Edwards remained the leader when the fifth yellow flag of the race waved over the field on Lap 66 for Scott Gaylord's blown tire coming out of Turn Two.
Harvick would use the restart to take the lead back from Edwards, but lose the lead to Edwards again, five laps later. However, on Lap 85 Bliss would go down a tire leading to yet another caution.
After the restart it become a yellow flag parade for a 14 lap stretch. The seventh yellow flag waved on Lap 91 for a crash involving yet another rookie Michael Annett as well as D.J. Kennington, and Robert Richardson.
Justin Allgaier would make his move on Edwards, quickly passing him, just before the eighth caution flag came out. Edwards cut a tire and spun out on the backstretch, sustaining no damage, but going a lap down.
The race barely began again when ninth yellow flag was waved for a big crash involving Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, Steve Wallace, David Green, Brandon Whitt, and Stanton Barrett.
Once the stretch of yellow fever passed, the race stayed under green flag conditions forcing the leaders to make green flag pit stops for the first time during the race. Biffle would lose his lead to a green flag stop on Lap 146. Giving the lead to Denny Hamlin, who like Biffle would have to surrender it to a green flag pit on Lap 154.
Unfortunately for Hamlin, he was penalized for speeding exiting pit road, forcing him to make a pass through penalty. However, during his pass through penalty, the overzealous Hamlin sped again, and had to make yet another pass through penalty. After Hamlin’s misfortunes, Brian Vickers would have similar problems when his crew missed a lug nut, forcing him to make a pass through penalty as well. The pitrow bad luck just keep coming as leader Gaughan, spun out entering pit road during his green flag stop.
Soon after this incident, another caution flag waved for a crash by leader Ragan, Lap 170. Biffle took full advantage of Ragan’s misfortunate going to the lead. Biffle would keep the lead through the next set of cautions. Biffle continued to lead during the next set of yellow flags, which included an accident which included Jason Keller on Lap 177, as well as Hamlin and Bliss on Lap 196.
The 12th and final caution of the race setup a dramatic green-white-checkered ending, on the restart, Edwards mounted one last charge heading down into Turn One. He got side by side with Biffle, but the high lane prevailed in the end, as Biffle held off Edwards for the victory.
The win was Biffle’s first victory in his last 77 starts in the Nationwide Series.
The top-10 finishers were: Biffle, Edwards, Vickers, Jason Leffler, Dale Earnhardt Jr., McDowell, Gaughan, Allgaier, Scott Lagasse, and Jeff Burton.
Some notable finishes included: Morgan Shepherd in 13th, Kenny Wallace in 14th, Joe Nemechek in 20th, Hamlin in 21st, Bliss in 22nd, Ragan in 26th, Brad Keselowski in 27th, Harvick in 29th, Busch in 39th, and Speed in 40th.
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