Archive for Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Biffle wins chaotic LifeLock 400 at Kansas Speedway

October 3, 2007

— Greg Biffle was declared the winner of the LifeLock 400 on Sunday at Kansas Speedway, but Clint Bowyer actually was the first driver across the finish line on the final lap.

With the last lap under caution, Biffle's engine apparently shut off just before the finish line, allowing Bowyer to cross first under the darkness after nearly three hours in delays.

"It was almost perfect today. Just a very, very weird day all together," said Bowyer, an Emporia native. "To win a race and not be able to go to victory lane I thought was weird. I don't know what is going on. You want to win when you come back to your hometown."

But Bowyer wasn't bitter about not getting the chance for his first victory on his home track.

It was also a question raised by Jimmie Johnson, who replaced Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon as the points leader in the Chase for the Nextel Cup after finishing in third -- his first top-five finish at Kansas in seven tries.

"The way I've always been told is if you can't maintain pace-car speed as people go by you, then it's kind of where you fall in. ... I feel bad for the 16 (Biffle), but in my opinion that's your winner right there," said Johnson, pointing toward Bowyer. "The No. 16 had a great car, and I'm not attacking those guys by any means, but the way the rule reads and how tough points are right now, every point counts."

Gordon, a four-time Nextel Cup champion, agreed with Johnson.

"They don't freeze the field. You have to maintain a reasonable pace, and that is in NASCAR's judgment if that was a reasonable pace," Gordon said. "Everybody was slowing down trying to figure out what he was doing. We were almost at a stop to run his pace, and the pace car was driving away so we all just started going by him. In my opinion, he didn't win that race. Clint Bowyer won the race."

The controversial conclusion at Kansas caused Biffle to defend his victory during the postrace news conference.

"The race was over, the caution was out, we were declared the winner. All we had to do was come back around and cross the stripe," Biffle said. "So, that's that. I could've passed the pace car, if you want. I can go start the car up and do some burnouts in the garage over here, do some doughnuts if that'll make everybody feel better about it. I don't know what to say."

NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Biffle didn't need to worry about the pace car's speed, saying "reasonable speed" for drivers is different from the pace car.

"In the opinion of the tower, the 16 did maintain a reasonable speed," Poston said. "The judgment comes from the tower and not from the other competitors."

Bowyer was attempting to close in on Biffle at the time of a blowout by Nextel rookie Juan Pablo Montoya on the 207th lap.

"We were just kind of nit-picking at him (Biffle), and he was tight off the corner, and I knew if we got going again on a restart I might be able to get him because of that," Bowyer said. "I knew I could probably get under him, but I certainly could see the No. 48 (Johnson) and the 24 (Gordon) coming on (fresh) tires. That was probably my biggest concern there at the end is he was tight and I knew his weaknesses, I just didn't know the strong points behind me."

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