Biffle holds off Martin to pick up second victory

Published 11:34 pm Monday, August 23, 2004

By Staff
SCOTT NOVAK / Niles Daily Star
BROOKLYN - Greg Biffle survived record-tying nine caution flags and his teammate on Sunday to win the GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Biffle beat teammate Mark Martin to the line by more than eight seconds to pick up his first win since the July Daytona race last season.
Biffle led 37 of the 200 laps on Sunday and was good on the track and in the pits as a record-tying nine caution flags waved.
The difference in the end was that Martin, who is making a bid to earn a spot in the Chase for the Championship, took two tires on his final pit stop and had nothing left for Biffle at the end.
For the third straight race, Jimmy Johnson went out early with engine failure.
This time it cost Johnson the championship points lead.
Jeff Gordon, a four-time championship winner, moved into first place by way of his seventh place finish on Sunday.
In June, Gordon dominated the race before going out with a blown engine.
On Sunday it looked as if the same thing was going to happen.
However, after the first round of pit stops, Gordon's car wasn't the same and he never seriously threatened to win the race after that.
Still, he moved into first place in the Chase for the Championship and clinched a spot for the final 10-race sprint to the finish.
Dale Jarrett, who is also making a bid for the final 10 race championship "playoff," finished third on Sunday, while Jamie McMurray was fourth and Kasey Kahne fifth.
All three drivers were in desperate need of a good finish as they continue to fight for a Top 10 position in the point standings with only three races remaining before the Chase for the Championship begins.
The current Top 10 standings are Gordon, Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, defending series champion Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Elliott Sadler, Kevin Harvick, Bobby Labonte and Kahne.
The drivers who still have a shot at cracking the Top 10 or moving within 400 points of the leader are Jeremy Mayfield, Martin, Ryan Newman, Jarrett, McMurray, Casey Mears, Michael Waltrip, Biffle, Rusty Wallace, Sterling Marlin, Robby Gordon, Jeff Burton, Terry Labonte and Brian Vickers.
The remainder of the NEXTEL Cup regulars have been mathematically eliminated from contention as of Sunday.
Despite spending two days testing at Michigan International Speedway the previous week, Earnhardt Jr. continued to struggle.
He finished 21st after an early race mishap with Kahne.
Earnhardt now trails Gordon by 139 points, but should clinch a spot for the title run this week at Bristol.
Rounding out the Top 10 finishers on Sunday were Busch, Gordon, Kenseth, Stewart and Carl Edwards.
The Top 10 finish for Edwards was particularly satisfying as he made his first start since replacing Jeff Burton in the No. 99 Green Lantern Ford of Roush Racing.
Burton, who two weeks ago moved to Richard Childress Racing, finished 12th in the AOL Chevy in his first start.