Sports

Points leader Greg Biffle validated with TMS win

The standings have said so for a while. A victory at Texas Motor Speedway leaves no doubt.

The Biff is the best.

Greg Biffle, the points leader in the Sprint Cup standings since the third race of the year but winless in 49 races, roared past Jimmie Johnson with 30 laps to go and won the fastest NASCAR race ever at TMS, Saturday night's Samsung Mobile 500.

The dominating performance over the final stretch erased any questions about Biffle's potential as a Sprint Cup title contender. The win allowed him to pad his points lead, gave him at least three bonus points if he makes the Chase and made him the sixth multi-time winner at Texas Motor Speedway.

"To put a bunch of ground on the cars behind us, it certainly makes a statement to the people who were wondering how we were still leading the points," Biffle said.

The past seven winners at TMS have finished no worse than fourth in the final standings.

Biffle started third and showed immediately he had one of the best cars in the field, which is no surprise considering he drives out of the Roush Fenway garage, which produced Friday night's Nationwide winner and had won eight previous Sprint Cup races at TMS.

Working with novice Sprint Cup crew chief Matt Puccia, who won for the first time in the series, Biffle expertly maneuvered on a track he historically handles well.

He tracked down the five-time series champion Johnson on Lap 303, diving under him into Turn 3 and exiting the corner of Turn 4 with the lead.

"When you hadn't won in a long time, it doesn't matter who it was -- five-time champion or what -- I was driving my heart out," Biffle said. "I was doing all I could do, moving up the track, down the track, up the track. I was driving it sideways."

Maybe that was because of the wind. Gusts of 40 mph swept over the 1.5-mile track, forcing the fans and pit crews on the infield to lean to a side to watch and work. The wind hit the cars as they exited Turn 4 out of the north end of the track, and Biffle said he could tell it gave him more trouble than it did Johnson.

"He was just smooth as a sail," Biffle said.

Despite the wind -- or perhaps because of it -- the race was run in an average speed of 160.577 mph, blistering the previous record of 152.705 set in November last year. The two caution flags for 10 laps were both track records, and a 234-lap green-flag run nearly doubled the previous record, 122.

"The wind was a huge factor," Biffle said. "I got a hole wore in my hand from holding on to the steering wheel."

Once Biffle made his pass of Johnson, it looked like it would be a hand-to-hand battle the rest of the way between the No. 16 Ford and the No. 48 Chevrolet. But Johnson, after being slowed by lapped traffic -- he blamed the No. 39 of Ryan Newman, primarily -- couldn't regain his momentum and didn't pose a challenge the rest of the way.

"My issue was with the 39," Johnson said. "When I got inside of him, he was already a lap down, and he proceeded to race me and cost me the lead."

Johnson certainly had no chance once he made contact with the wall 15 laps later. The last 16 laps were a showcase for Biffle's Roush-powered engine.

"From there, I just made sure I brought it home," Johnson said, the dejection in his voice unmistakable after his missed chance to earn Hendrick Motorsports' 200th victory.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407

Twitter: @calexmendez

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