Greg Biffle claimed his first NASCAR Sprint Cup win of the season at Michigan International Speedway. The Roush Fenway Ford driver took control in the final round of pit stops and held firm to triumph ahead of Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.
Jimmie Johnson looked like he would mount a last-gasp attempt for a win but he hit the wall with just a handful of laps remaining, damaging the right-front tire of his Hendrick Chevrolet.
"The guy was 10 (on the restart) and was catching me with 10 to go," Biffle said. "That's a fast racecar. We beat the 48 today and that says a lot. He was really, really fast."
Biffle's teammate Carl Edwards did not lead for long from pole, making contact with fellow front row man Kurt Busch, which knocked him back to fifth. Busch led the early stages but spun his Furniture Row Chevrolet at Turn 2 on lap 29, before Joey Logano, Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. had turns leading.
Kasey Kahne then passed Earnhardt and proceeded to pull out nearly a four-second lead. However, a blown right-front tire led to a hefty impact with the wall for Kahne at Turn 2 just after the halfway mark. Earnhardt then assumed a comfortable lead but capped a miserable afternoon for the Hendrick squad by blowing his engine, causing the seventh caution of the race.
“It's frustrating, but, you know, you'd rather be leading the race than run in the back and have that problem,” mused Earnhardt.
Johnson's decision to fit four new tires at the penultimate round of stops while the remainder – led by Edwards, Logano and Biffle – fitted just two would prove crucial for track position.
Biffle then set about passing the pair in front of him and a timely caution just after a green flag stop had him in front for the restart, as Logano took on four tires and Johnson – who had recovered yet again to run at the front – lost time filling up with more fuel.
Biffle extended his lead in front as Johnson worked his way back through to second – again – and he had closed to half a second behind Biffle before his incident three laps from home.
That left Biffle clear to take his second win in a row at Michigan, and Ford's 1,000th as a NASCAR manufacturer.
Results - 200 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 2h52m19s
2. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet +2.989s
3. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota +3.243s
4. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota +10.165s
5. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +11.933s
6. Matt Kenseth Gibbs Toyota +12.114s
7. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota +15.450s
8. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford +15.914s
9. Joey Logano Penske Ford +16.383s
10. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet +16.925s
11. Austin Dillon Childress Chevrolet +17.618s
12. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford +17.900s
13. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +18.586s
14. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet +19.054s
15. Trevor Bayne Wood Bros. Ford +22.469s
16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford +22.838s
17. Aric Almirola Petty Ford +24.757s
18. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +27.241s
19. AJ Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Toyota +27.478s
20. Juan Pablo Montoya EGR Chevrolet +28.942s
21. Casey Mears Germain Ford +28.974s
22. David Gilliland Front Row Ford +30.176s
23. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford +32.327s
24. JJ Yeley Baldwin Chevrolet +32.469s
25. David Ragan Front Row Ford +34.701s
26. Mark Martin Waltrip Toyota +36.098s
27. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota +39.129s
28. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet -1 lap
29. David Stremme Swan Toyota -1 lap
30. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota -1 lap
31. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet -1 lap
32. David Reutimann BK Toyota -2 laps
33. Jamie McMurray EGR Chevrolet -4 laps
34. Ken Schrader FAS Lane Ford -5 laps
35. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet -7 laps
36. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota -7 laps
Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 131 laps
Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 103 laps
Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 52 laps
Josh Wise Front Row Ford 51 laps
Mike Bliss Humphrey Smith Toyota 50 laps
Michael McDowell Phil Parsons Ford 36 laps
Bobby Labonte Phoenix Chevrolet 5 laps