Greg Biffle gambled on tire strategy to claim his second Nationwide Series victory of the year in the Bashas' Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.
The Roush Fenway racer led the way from lap 98 and until the checkered flag, meaning he was up front for more than half the scheduled distance, although his win was not as straightforward as the numbers may indicate.
Biffle first held off the attacks from Kevin Harvick and then stayed on the track during the sixth caution of the day, while most of the leaders elected to pit to take on new rubber for the final 40 laps of the race.
Jason Leffler stayed out as well and he turned into Biffle's main challenger for victory. Three further caution periods helped the Roush Fenway driver keep Leffler and those on fresh tires behind, allowing him to take his third Nationwide Series win at the one-mile oval.
"I thought we were sitting ducks, but these tires were so good," Biffle said after giving team owner Jack Roush an anticipated Birthday present with the 100th victory for his team in the second-tier series. Once the tires cooled down under the caution that everybody pitted on, the car took off again and just hauled."
Leffler scored his best finish of the season with his runner up spot. He tried having a go at Biffle in the last three restarts of the race but in the end he had to settle for second best as the eventual winner didn't put a foot wrong in the last few sprints, nor in the green-white-checker finish.
"It just worked out that we didn't take tires," said Leffler. "Track position was just so important. If we had any sort of run there, those guys behind us were coming. It worked out really good in our favor. I'm proud of all of the guys and really happy to be driving this car. If we keep running like this we're going to win some races."
Brad Keselowski was third, while Joey Logano was fourth after electing to pit during the sixth caution of the day. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver lamented he got beaten by strategy as he thought pitting for tyres was the way to go. Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five behind him.
"The last time I was here I didn't come down pit road at the end of the race and got beat, so I said we better come down this time so I don't get bit, and I got bit again," said Logano. "This place doesn't like me or something – I don't know what it is.
"I wanted it and we were lucky to come out fourth. That last green-white-checker was pretty exciting. It got a few cars on the restart and we're lucky to get what we got."
Pole-sitter Carl Edwards had to retire from the race with an engine problem, having led for most of the first half of the race. He was also involved in an early incident when he bumped Michael Waltrip, sending him into a spin and against the wall.
Edwards' retirement means he has lost the lead in the standings to Kyle Busch, who recovered from being two laps down due to a tire problem to finish 10th.
"We had the tire issue and got two laps down, but the guys never gave up and kept on digging," Busch said. "Something just wasn't quite right with the car tonight. I think maybe we had a broken shim, but we just aren't quite sure until (crew chief) Jason (Ratcliff) and the guys take a look at it.
"The 60 (Carl Edwards) had some trouble tonight, so we were fortunate to be able to gain all those spots back and get the points lead."
Busch now leads Edwards in the standings by 47 points, while David Ragan has moved up three spots to third, finishing the race in sixth place.
Pos Driver Make Laps
1. Greg Biffle Ford 203
2. Jason Leffler Toyota 203
3. Brad Keselowski Chevrolet 203
4. Joey Logano Toyota 203
5. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 203
6. David Ragan Ford 203
7. Brendan Gaughan Chevrolet 203
8. Justin Allgaier Dodge 203
9. Mike Bliss Chevrolet 203
10. Kyle Busch Toyota 203
11. Michael McDowell Toyota 203
12. Steve Wallace Chevrolet 203
13. Burney Lamar Toyota 203
14. Paul Menard Ford 203
15. Brian Scott Toyota 203
16. Michael Annett Toyota 203
17. Jason Keller Ford 203
18. David Green Toyota 203
19. Scott Wimmer Chevrolet 203
20. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 201
21. Danny O'Quinn Jr Chevrolet 201
22. Eric McClure Ford 201
23. DJ Kennington Dodge 201
24. Tony Raines Chevrolet 200
25. Joe Nemechek Chevrolet 200
26. Brandon Whitt Ford 200
27. Brian Keselowski Dodge 200
28. Ken Butler III Chevrolet 199
29. Kenny Wallace Chevrolet 194
30. John Borneman III Ford 184
31. Casey Atwood Ford 182
32. Scott Lagasse Jr Toyota 180
33. Carl Edwards Ford 178
34. Austin Dillon Chevrolet 173
35. Morgan Shepherd Chevrolet 169
36. John Wes Townley Ford 163
37. Daryl Harr Chevrolet 142
38. Mark Green Chevrolet 58
39. Kertus Davis Chevrolet 46
40. Michael Waltrip Toyota 29
41. Kevin Hamlin Chevrolet 21
42. Terry Cook Chevrolet 7
43. Dave Blaney Chevrolet 4