For Greg Biffle it was a first. For the Ford Motor Company it was a 1,000th NASCAR victory.
Biffle captured the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of the season in his Ford Fusion. In the process he pushed Ford to its milestone triumph on the day of company’s 110th birthday.
Biffle held off a fast-closing Jimmie Johnson in the late stages of the race, but when Johnson suffered a blown tire, his car scraping the wall with two laps remaining, Biffle was home free with his fourth triumph at MIS in 21 races and his 19th win overall in 381 Sprint Cup races.
“I knew the 48 (Johnson) was really fast,” Biffle said. “I was really worried about the 48 but once this car got in clean air it was all over. The guy (Johnson) started 10th and was behind me with 10 to go. That’s a really fast race car. We’re not to that level yet but we’re sure a lot closer than we have been. This is really exciting to win the 1,000th for Ford.”
Biffle held off a fast-charging Kevin Harvick over the final three laps. Martin Truex Jr. came home in third and Kyle Busch in fourth, followed by Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth.
“We just struggled with maintaining track position but I had a fast car and I could drive up through there and I would get to first or second and then a caution would come out,” said Johnson, who remains winless at Michigan in 23 attempts. “I hate having that problem at the end.
“I had run the car really hard to get through all those guys and must have worn through that right front tire with two laps to go and it went down in Turn 1.”
Johnson, who led a total of 16 laps, fell victim to what other race leaders faced during the race, untimely bad luck.
Kurt Busch brushed the wall after leading 21 laps. Kasey Kahne was leading with 97 laps remaining in the 200-lap race when his car hit the wall hard, catching on fire. And Dale Earnhardt, Jr., was leading on lap 127 when his engine expired in a cloud of smoke.
For Biffle it was his second consecutive win at MIS. He captured the Pure Michigan 400 last August. Johnson was leading that race with eight laps remaining when he suffered an engine failure.
Biffle helped Roush Fenway Racing record the its 13th win at MIS, the most by any team at the fastest track in NASCAR.
“MIS had been a great race track and we’ve had a lot of success here over the years,” Roush said. “I was as proud to help Ford win its 1,000th race in NASCAR as I was to win the race here on the 100th anniversary of the Ford Motor Company that Greg won as well. Those are two milestones that I’ve been very proud to be a part of.”