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Teammates' spin helps boost Biffle

5/11/2005

DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Greg Biffle's chances of winning a race
he dominated appeared gone after his Roush Racing team made some
late-race changes.

But a timely spin by Mark Martin and four fresh tires were all
Biffle needed to win Saturday night's NASCAR Nextel Cup race at
Darlington Raceway in overtime.

"The second to last run there we tried some tire pressure
things and got my car way too loose,'' Biffle said. "I thought,
`Why in the world would we wait until the last run to try
something?' It went the wrong way, but we recovered from that.''

Biffle, who led 176 of 370 laps on the treacherous 1.366-mile,
egg-shaped Darlington oval, fell behind on a late pit stop, but got
another chance when Martin spun, bringing out the 12th caution flag
just five laps from the scheduled finish.

Ryan Newman, who had taken charge late in the race, chose to
stay on the track while Biffle and several other contenders pitted
for tires. When the green flag waved again for a two-lap shootout,
beginning on lap 369, Biffle, taking advantage of those fresh
tires, charged from fourth. He passed Carl Edwards, Ken Schrader
and, finally, Newman before taking the white flag for the last lap.

"You feel like Superman,'' Biffle said of the restart with new
tires. "When the caution came out, I was going in the corner so
slow and I was slipping and sliding all over. I couldn't even
imagine restarting on those tires and having to run three more
laps.

"With the new tires, I knew I had him beat.''

Biffle went on to win easily, adding the Dodge Charger 500 to
victories earlier this season in California and Texas. Six-time
Darlington winner Jeff Gordon, also with fresh tires, followed
Biffle's No. 16 Ford to the front on the overtime dash, but lost by
0.989 seconds -- about six car-lengths.

"Man, I wish we could have beat Biffle out on that last stop,''
Gordon said. "The first guy on four fresh tires was going to win
it.''

During the competitive race, Biffle fended off a series of
challenges from Newman, second-year driver Kasey Kahne, Gordon and
series points leader Jimmie Johnson, who had won the two previous
races at the South Carolina track.

The 35-year-old driver from Vancouver, Wash., gave team owner
Jack Roush his fifth victory in the first 10 races of the season.
Defending series champion Kurt Busch and Edwards have each won one
race for Roush in 2005.

Kahne, who started from the pole and led 60 laps, finished
third, followed by Martin, Newman, Jamie McMurray and Johnson, who
charged back after making an unscheduled pit stop on lap 260 and
falling to 23rd, a lap off the pace.

Fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr., who started 39th, finished
eighth, just ahead of Edwards.

Despite dominating the race, it looked as though Biffle was
going to wind up an also ran when Newman, who had been watching the
battles up front most of the night, shot past into the lead on lap
323 and pulled away to leads of more than 3 seconds.

Newman, who has not won since last September at Dover, was out
front by about 30 car-lengths and seemingly on the way to an easy
victory when Martin, running in fifth, spun on lap 363, bringing
out the yellow flag and setting up Biffle's sixth career win.

"We were going to end up second,'' Biffle said. "I feel bad
for Ryan Newman. He had a really strong car tonight and that's
tough decision to make.''

Newman said the decision was thrust upon him.

"The second-place car was so far back that by the time he
committed to coming down pit road I was committed to staying out,''
Newman explained. "That was it.

"I think three or four guys, if they were bright enough, would
have stayed out and tried to get a top 10 out of it instead of
finishing 20th. But that didn't happen. We had a car that should
have won but didn't.''

Gordon moved into second place in the season standings, 127
points behind Johnson. Biffle is third, 148 behind, while Busch,
who crashed on the first lap of the race, wound up 37th and slipped
from second to fourth, 229 points back.

It was a very successful night for the track that lost one of
its two Cup races this season and has been rumored to be in danger
of also losing this event as part of NASCAR's continuing expansion
to new tracks in nontraditional parts of the country.

About 70,000 spectators, only the second sellout crowd at
Darlington since 1997, watched the first Cup race run almost
entirely at night at NASCAR's oldest paved speedway. This one began
at sunset, while the final Southern 500, last November, was started
in the late afternoon and finished under the then-new lights.