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The Biff! Yes, Greg Biffle wins the Kansas 400, to get back in NASCAR's Sprint Cup championship chase

  Greg Biffle, victorious (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   KANSAS CITY, Kansas
   Greg Biffle fought his way back into the NASCAR title chase with a brilliant performance on a beautiful fall afternoon, winning Sunday's Kansas 400. But Jimmie Johnson, who struggled much of the day, rallied for second, and Denny Hamlin had an off-day, so Johnson took the Sprint Cup points lead after Round Three of the 10-race chase.
   "We knew our backs were against the wall," crew chief Greg Erwin said after Biffle's win, his first in a long time.
   "Man, this is a big win for us...we felt so down after Dover," Biffle said.
   "Until the halfway part of the race we didn't have the car we needed," Johnson said of his own comeback. "I didn't really love the feel of the car; it felt 'on top' of the track.' But it worked well in traffic."
   Johnson got some major chassis adjustments during the race by crew chief Chad Knaus. "I think the tire they brought here threw us for a loop," Johnson said. "I drove all 400 miles with my tongue hanging out."
   Kevin Harvick wound up third. "It just took a little while to get through traffic after that last pit stop," Harvick said. On the radio he had been somewhat critical of pit stops, which were crucial throughout the race.
   "We started the race good, but we were loose up front, and we could see where we were off, once the other cars got up there," Jeff Gordon, fifth, said. "It was a good day...but we could have been better."
   Tony Stewart finished fourth, and he appeared to have one of the best cars throughout the afternoon.
       The race started with a lot of non-chasers up front, including Kasey Kahne and Paul Menard. But at the finish chasers swept the top seven spots.   
   "There was a lot made this morning about the (chase) guys who didn't qualify well," Johnson said. "With our poor qualifying effort, we didn't have much choice on pits. And one time I got pinned in (by Hamlin)."
   Hamlin was never a contender, though he did rally to finish 12th.
   The bottom line, however, was Hamlin, with his weak run, opened the door to men he had held in a hole after the first two races of the playoffs.
   And now the top eight men are within 100 points of each other heading this week to California for next Sunday's race.
   Johnson in the points lead? That's scary, considering he won California in the spring and he's going for an unprecedented fifth straight Cup championship.
   "But it's too early to worry about the points," Johnson insisted. "We'll have to get deeper into the chase before we start worrying about who the points leader is."
  Well, maybe not.   
   Kyle Busch was the day's big loser, getting into a tussle with non-chase contender David Reutimann, getting knocked into the wall midway through the three-hour race. Busch struggled home 21st, really a good performance given the badly damaged rear end.
    It all began when Busch slid into Reutimann on lap 53 of the 267-lapper. Reutimann retaliated eventually, tagging Busch on the backstretch on lap 156.
    Busch was angry about the incident but managed to keep his cool, with some good work by crew chief Dave Rogers to calm him down.
   "It's just really unfortunate," Busch said afterwards. "To have the opportunity to run for a championship, and have something like this happen.
   "The guy was loose, and I got into him unintentionally. My fault, totally.
    "But then the retaliation....
   "He could have wrecked me in any of the first 26 races next year, and that would have been fine."    
  Reutimann didn't show much sympathy: "I don't care if you're in the chase or not, you need to think about who you're running over when you're running over them," Reutimann said.  "I don't care who you are. 
    "If you're in the chase, you have as much responsibility to drive with respect as I do, or anybody else."

     Kasey Kahne started from the pole but slapped the wall hard midway.
   "I was bouncing pretty bad throughout the whole race," Kahne said. "We never got it fixed.
   "I just got all mixed up.  It wasn't too bad when it first went green, because I was out in the open. But the longer it went, Jeff (Gordon) got by us.
   "I knew from the time it went green that we were in trouble because of the bouncing. I could hardly control it and still run competitive speeds. Something was bound to happen.
    "I actually got loose-in and then tight, and then loose, and spun out and hit the wall.
     "I should have just slowed way down, and I didn't.
     "I just tried to get some more on that restart, and it didn't work out."

                            The results of Sunday's Kansas 400




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