In one of the strangest races in recent years, Greg Biffle was able to coast across the Start/Finish line under caution to capture his first victory of the year.
After two separate red flag periods for rain and a number of extensive cautions, NASCAR officials shortened the length of the race twice – finally deciding to end the race on lap 210. Little did they know it would end under caution, leaving many drivers and fans to question the finish.
About to pit for tires and fuel under green, Greg Zipadelli radioed for his driver Tony Stewart to stay out due to rain falling on the pit box. This decision to stay on the track paid off when the caution flew for rain, leaving the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet out front.
The massive rain storm interrupted green flag pit stops on lap 148 and sent drivers, crews and fans hurrying to find cover. Stewart looked to be headed to his second straight victory at Kansas Speedway – that is until the rain let up and NASCAR called the drivers to their cars two hours later.
After the leaders pitted for tires and fuel, the race restarted on lap 156 with Tony Stewart out front, Kevin Harvick second, Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Reed Sorenson rounding out the top five. Those caught a lap down before rain stopped the event restarted on the tail end of the lead lap in front of the leaders.
Green flag racing did not last long when Ken Schrader got loose going three wide into the corner triggering an eight car pile up. The accident collected Chase drivers Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr., while Tony Stewart received damage to the left front fender and nose.
Deciding not to lose track position, Greg Zipadelli left Stewart on the track with the damaged left front, hoping the fender would not rub. Kevin Harvick led Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer and Casey Mears to the green flag – with Stewart restarting in seventh.
As soon as the filed headed into turn one, Stewart’s fender began to rub the tire sending white smoke billowing from the car. Ten laps later, Stewart’s left front tire gave way going into turn three. Kurt Busch drove into the corner without knowing Stewart was there, spinning the Home Depot Chevy and collecting fellow Chaser Carl Edwards.
The in-car camera showed an irate Stewart unbuckling from his wrecked racecar. Obviously upset, Stewart went from being in the cat-bird seat to being out of the race with a wrecked ride.
It was during this yellow flag period NASCAR made its final decision to shorten the race to 210 laps.
Shortly after the restart, Denny Hamlin and Jamie McMurray were sent spinning down the backstretch after contact with Paul Menard coming off turn two. The three were running three wide when McMurray and Menard made contact, triggering the incident.
With only twenty five laps remaining, seven of the twelve drivers in the Chase for the Nextel Cup had experienced some sort of problem on the day.
The final restart came with twenty-three laps to go with Greg Biffle out front. Clint Bowyer was quick to get around teammate Kevin Harvick for second. Bowyer, a Kansas native could smell a hometown win ahead of him and began closing in on Biffle for the lead. Jimmie Johnson – who started the day from the rear of the field in a back-up car – began charging hard in the closing laps, moving from fifth to third.
With less than five laps to go, Bowyer began to challenge for the lead when Juan Pablo Montoya cut a tire, sending debris flying from his No. 42 Texaco Havoline Dodge.
NASCAR decided under caution not to restart the race, ending the event at lap 210.
Greg Biffle dropped onto the apron of the track slowing before crossing the Start/Finish line for the win. Second and third place drivers Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson charged forward, as if challenging Biffle for the win under caution. Biffle then drove into the grass emerged from his car and walked to Victory Lane.
After the race Johnson and Bowyer questioned the victory by Biffle. Both argued that in order for a driver to win the race, they must maintain pace car speed under the yellow flag. Both saw that Biffle had ran out of gas and argued he did not maintain proper speed to claim the victory. NASCAR did not review the incident and awarded Biffle the win.
Controversy or not, Greg Biffle has definitely turned his season around as of late. Finishing second last week and running well all day today, Biffle and his entire Roush Fenway crew – led by Greg Erwin – have worked hard to put this team back where it was in seasons past