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The windiest race in NASCAR history? Well, this Texas 500 was a record-setter....and winner Greg Biffle says a statement too

 It was a rather strange Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway. And a good mano a mano battle at the end between Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern


   FORT WORTH, Texas
   Will Greg Biffle become the first man in NASCAR history to win the 'triple crown,' adding a Sprint Cup championship this year to his NASCAR Truck and Nationwide championships?
   "This year may be my year, and I'm going to keep after it, right to Homestead," Biffle said confidently after taking the measure of five-time champion Jimmie Johnson in winning Saturday night's Texas 500.

    "To win like this, and put a bunch of ground on the guys, that certainly makes a statement, for all the people that were wondering if this was kind of a fluke that we were still leading the points this far in," Biffle said after his first tour win since the fall of 2010.

   The entire weekend here was extremely windy, with gusts up to 40 mph or more, and with tornadoes just across the board to the north, and with hot humid air rushing up from Gulf. It made for difficult driving, to say the least.
   And Biffle said the fierce winds may have played a big role in how clean the race went – only two yellows, one for debris, and one for Trevor Bayne slapping the wall.
   Texas Motor Speedway is known for stretches of long green, perhaps because the track is so fast that it is very aero-sensitive. But never green stretches as long as in this race – a record 234 laps without a yellow. That's a whopping 350 miles without any incident.
   Martin Truex Jr., who started from the pole and had a car capable of winning, until a long pit stop late, called the wind "bad.
   "There were times when it hit me weird on the front straightaway and I was thinking I was losing a cylinder. 
    "And it was just crazy going off into turn three.
   "We've had wind here before…but never blowing into turn three in quite that direction, and never quite that hard. 
    "It was a handful; I almost lost it about 20 different times."

     Biffle too struggled with the wind.
   "It was very hard to drive, with the wind blowing the cars around, and the way the cars slide," Biffle said.
    "Once it runs green for a while, it gets spread out. The cars get so aero-tight, or aero-sensitive when they're around other cars, you typically don't run in packs. 
    "I'm surprised somebody didn't get sideways underneath somebody, because that can happen when these cars are sliding around a lot. 
    "I almost hit a lapped car, because he pointed me to the bottom, and I'm loose in, and I thought that he was going to leave me more than just one lane.  He left me one lane. I jammed on the brakes because I was going to wreck. 
    "People are just crashing less, I guess.  Tony (Stewart) wrecked in practice, if that's any consolation," Biffle cracked.
   "I came close a few times. I am surprised that nobody made a mistake.
    "The wind was a huge factor. The wind was hard.  That's probably why nobody wrecked. I got a hole worn in my hand from holding onto the steering wheel.  The wind was blowing you all over the place. 
    "It made it so you couldn't really race side by side with a guy. 
    "I was nervous coming off turn two (where the track banking drops off abruptly).  I wouldn't run up on a guy coming off the corner like I normally would;  I'd leave more room, because I wasn't sure when the wind was going to blow my car one way or another. 
    "I was cautious when I was around cars, and I think probably everybody else was."

     Johnson down the stretch appeared in command. But then came the bobble in dealing with Ryan Newman, and Biffle pounced.
   "Catching Jimmie at the end, I had to dig deep," Biffle said.  "It was all I had to be able to get to him.
    "And it seemed like when I got to him, it was too easy.  I don't know if he'd used up his tires or he had trouble in traffic.
    "I was surprised I didn't have to deal with him anymore, though.  I thought he was going to be right there."

    The win was Matt Puccia's first as a crew chief. And Puccia, though he's been around for more than four years, is only now gaining a reputation.
   "At the end of last season we sat down and established what our weaknesses were and what we needed to work on, and we went to work," Puccia said.
   "Robbie Reiser (Roush's general manager) has done a lot for us and this team.
     "We started the season off running really good, and the team is focused."
    One of the key moves of the night for Biffle may have come during the final round of pit stops, under green. Biffle beat Johnson, then the leader, to pit road.
    But the race nearly came down to fuel mileage at the end, and Biffle and Puccia were sweating it. "I knew we were close on fuel," Biffle said, "so for about eight or 10 laps there I took care of my tires." 
    Puccia conceded he had to modify his game plan during the night: "Some of the Toyotas weren't getting the fuel mileage we were getting, and they had to stop that much shorter, which forced our hand a little to have to stop (also).
     "We got down to that last run and there was such a small (fuel) window -- we had to get into (lap) 282 (of the 334-lapper) It was a really small window, but we had to press that issue there at the end."



Boring race but driver radio

Boring race but driver radio provided a little strategy of interest.

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