LOUDON, N.H. — Greg Biffle entered this weekend hoping for a top-10 finish. Then he won Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and found himself among the point leaders.
Biffle’s victory — the first by someone other than Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards or Jimmie Johnson since late June — moved him to third in the standings. He trails co-leaders Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards by 30 points.
Biffle admitted that this track was among those he was nervous about because his finishes haven’t been as good. He also worries about Talladega and Martinsville.
“We’ve gotten through this one a little better than I expected,’’ he said.
Biffle took the lead from Johnson with 12 laps to go and cruised to his first win since last year at Kansas. Biffle’s move came just after the race’s final restart.
“From the very first start of the race, we were loose in spots,’’ said Johnson, who led a race-high 96 laps. “It would take a while to get the tires up and get going. His stuff must have been coming in as well, and he was too strong on the short run.’’
DOCTOR, DOCTOR: Listening to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and car owner Rick Hendrick talk on the radio during the middle of the race was like being a part of a psychiatrist’s session.
Earnhardt got frustrated with his car and Hendrick tried to calm him. Hendrick said that Earnhardt must do a better job of focusing.
“I love his enthusiasm and his grit, but I want him to focus in the middle of the race and tell us what the car needs,’’ Hendrick said after Earnhardt finished fifth.
Earnhardt was frustrated in the middle of the race when his car’s handling went away after a pit stop for four new tires and fuel.
“Those kind of things are going to happen, but in this Chase it’s not going to get any easier, and (with) better communication we’re going to run better,’’ Hendrick said.
Earnhardt’s finish puts him fourth in the standings, 50 points behind co-leaders Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards.
THIRD NOT BAD: Carl Edwards was pleased to finish third.
“I feel like we won that thing just because of how terrible we were in practice, and to finish this well and to be tied with Jimmie there in the points, that’s a huge day for us,’’ Edwards said.
“(Saturday night) I didn’t go to bed thinking that (Sunday) was going to end up like this, so it’s a huge relief for me.’’
TOUGH START: Eighteen-year-old Joey Logano finished 32nd in his Cup debut.
“Not what I wanted that’s for sure,’’ said Logano, who finished three laps behind the leaders. “It was a tough one. By lap 200 (of 300), I wanted it to end because we weren’t running worth a dang.’’
PLEADING FOR CHANGE: Track owner Bruton Smith, among the most powerful people in racing, says NASCAR needs to make changes to keep its fans.
“The first thing I would do if I could do it, is I would stop the cars that we have today and go back with something sensible … because the fans do not like this car,’’ Smith said. “That’s not good when your fans don’t like what you’re doing.’’
Smith also said that he’s waiting for the appeal by the former track owners of Kentucky Speedway to drop their lawsuit so the track can get a Cup race. Smith said plans are being made to add lights to New Hampshire Motor Speedway but they have to work through an agreement the previous track owner had to not hold night races.
POLITICAL RACE: John McCain, the Republican candidate for president, attended the drivers meeting before the race and was escorted in the garage by Richard Petty.
PIT STOPS: Biffle earned $235,575 for his 13th career Cup victory. … Jeff Burton finished fourth for his first top-five finish since June. … Robby Gordon climbed back into the top 35 in car owner points, knocking AJ Allmendinger out.
Contact Dustin Long at 373-7062 or firstname.lastname@example.org