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Biffle wins first Chase race at New Hampshire

Sep 14, 2008 - 11:52 PM LOUDON, New Hampshire (Ticker) -- Greg Biffle picked a good time to snap a 33-race winless skid.

Biffle passed Jimmie Johnson with 12 laps remaining Sunday to win the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the the first race for the "Chase for the Championship."

It was Biffle's first win of the season and his first since Kansas last September.

"I was holding back a little bit even though my Ford was trying to go," said Biffle, who has 13 career victories. "I got some cautions that held Jimmie up a little, and that was enough for me to get to him."

Johnson appeared to have a victory in hand after taking the lead on lap 216 after winning the race off pit road.

But two late cautions allowed Biffle to eventually get past Johnson and cruise to the victory by over half a second.

"On the long runs, we were strong all day and the short runs hurt me the most," said Johnson, the two-time defending series champion who entered the Chase fresh off wins at California and Richmond.

"Sure enough, (Biffle) caught me. I was inching back, but didn't have enough laps to get to him. Can't complain with second place, though."

Carl Edwards, Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top five.

Edwards, who began the Chase seeded second and 30 points behind Kyle Busch, took over the lead in the standings. He is tied with Johnson atop the standings, but holds the tiebreaker based on wins this season.

"(Being the leader) sounds great," Edwards said. "Everybody worked really hard. ... It's just cool to be leading the points."

With the win, Biffle moved up six spots to third and sits 30 points out of the Chase lead.

Busch struggled mightily after starting on the pole when qualifying was rained out on Friday. A broken bolt on his sway bar dropped him from the lead after three laps, and he was running 26th when the competition caution flew on lap 35.

Busch eventually fell two laps down and hit the wall, winding up 34th and falling to eighth in the standings, 74 points behind the leaders.

"Not a very good day," Busch's crew chief Steve Addington said. "We had a part failure, which is something you can't do nothing about."

Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr., a pair of drivers not in the running for the Sprint Cup title, finished sixth and seventh. Chase drivers Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top 10.

Stewart, Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, was able to finish in the top-10 dropping as low 35th after an incident on pit road. He also was assessed a penalty for speeding off pit road later in the race.

"I'm real proud of the guys," said Stewart who last week was critical of his team was for a slow pit stop that cost him the lead and possibly a win at Richmond. "They got us track position to get us in an opportunity to get back on the lead lap with the lucky dog, and that was because of the guys' great pit stop before that.

"It just shows how the complexion of this sport can change from week to week. Last week it was a mistake in the pits, and this week it was a mistake on the driver's part."

Joey Logano, the 18-year-old phenom who is replacing Stewart in the No. 20 Toyota next season, finished 32nd, three laps down in his Sprint Cup debut.

"Not what I wanted - that's for sure," Logano said. "It was a tough one. We tried hard, but it just wasn't there the whole time."

Clint Bowyer, who used a win in the Chase opener at the "Magic Mile" last season en route to a third-place finish in the standings, fell four spots to ninth after finishing 12th on Sunday.

"It was a decent day for the Jack Daniel's Chevrolet but, I'll be honest, I'm disappointed to have finished 12th," Bowyer said. "I think we had better car than that. Our pit strategy didn't work out as well as we hoped. We'll be better next week at Dover."

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