|Biffle grabs the win in Homestead|
November 20, 2005 (Homestead, FL)
By Linda Przygodski - Motorsport.com
Greg Biffle held off Mark Martin on a last lap door-to- door battle to win the Nextel Cup series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Biffle grabbed the lead in dramatic fashion in the races closing laps after having not been a factor all day in the race.
"The night didn't start out very good for us," Biffle said. "The car was real, real tight, loose in, and I got it off in practice. I started the race car way too tight for the race tonight, and really paid the price early on. I made it hard on the pit crew tonight - you know, putting rubbers in and taking rubbers out and doing a tremendous amount on the race car under the caution. They did a fantastic job, the speed, of getting all that work done and keeping the track position.
"And finally the last pit stop, I think was the only time we didn't make an adjustment on the car and it was Doug's call for two tires there at the end. It was the best the car had been all night, that last run I drove almost to fourth or whatever so the car really come around. Then right there at the end I had the thing perfect."
A late caution saw the race restart with 11 to go with Dave Blaney leading followed by Mark Martin. Biffle came out of nowhere and sailed the No. 16 Ford in between Blaney and Martin to grab the lead.
From there, Martin threw everything he had at him, but Biffle just squeaked it out to add his sixth win of the season to his resume. Biffle ends his year as the driver with the most wins in 2005.
"I just wake up in the morning and it's exciting every day that I get to drive these race cars," said Biffle. "I've got so much confidence in my team, I never question one thing they do or a decision they make - ever.
"I've got a great team and that is how I have won six races this year."
Martin had to settle for second, "I thought I had him. That is the overview. I am the luckiest man in the world to be able to drive that 6 car.I am hoping that I can drive cars like that again next year."
Matt Kenseth also appeared out of nowhere as the race wound down to score third.
"I feel pretty good about it," commented Kenseth on his season. "It's been an interesting year. We've had some turnover. We started the year 43rd in points and worked our way back up to make the chase. I'm real proud of the guys for that. We've got a really good group here. I just have a feeling for some reason that next year we're gonna have an even better group. We've had some turnover and sometimes that's healthy.
"I think we're gonna have some young guys in the there that want to do it worse than ever. We've got some hungry guys and I think they're gonna be ready for it next year."
Carl Edwards and Casey Mears complete the top five.
"I can't be too disappointed," said Mears who was in the race lead before a late race caution brought the field to the pits. "I'm real proud of everybody. It's been a long three years with this Target team, and everybody has done a good job. I can't help but feel a little robbed, but I guess if we had the best car we would have taken two tires with those guys and won the race. Those Roush cars were just so good from the beginning to the end of the run."
Threatening skies prompted NASCAR to move the race time up ten minutes with Edwards leading the way for the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Edwards led the first lap but was overtaken by Ryan Newman a circuit later as the No. 12 Dodge found the way to the front.
Newman was leading when the first caution came out at lap 18 when Brian Vickers and Scott Wimmer got together in turn four. The leaders pitted with Newman retaining the lead.
The yellow waved again on lap 25 when Kyle Busch smacked the wall. Newman led on the restart but Jeff Gordon began putting pressure on the No. 12 Dodge. After a five lap effort, Gordon finally made the pass on lap 34.
Once Newman lost clean air he began to slip through the top five allowing Edwards to improve his position to second.
The third caution at lap 44 was brought out by the spinning Chevy of Bobby Labonte. After service stops Edwards was back out front after beating everyone out of the pits. Edwards led through the next caution which was caused when David Stremme hit the wall.
Edwards easily beat everyone off to remain the race leader but on lap 100 Gordon passed for the top spot. Just as Gordon got the lead Scott Riggs hit the wall bringing out the fifth yellow flag.
Troubles for championship contender Jimmie Johnson broke out on lap 127. After falling backward for several laps complaining of a vibration, he blew a tire hitting the wall.
"We wanted the big trophy we didn't want anything else," said Johnson. "I look back on the season and we did everything that we could. I am disappointed."
After Johnson's issues, Gordon led the grid onto pit road but Edwards got the lead back after lightning quick stop for the No.99 Ford team. Newman and Edwards battled back and forth for the lead at lap 134, switching the top spot several times before Edwards finally settled back in upfront on lap 141.
Edwards had pulled out to a one-second advantage on the field when a debris caution emerged at lap 168. It was a lucky break for Tony Stewart who had been complaining of an ill-handling race car and had begun to slip backward through the field.
Mears was the fastest man on pit road coming out the leader on the restart at lap 175 followed by Newman and Edwards. Newman made contact with Gordon on lap 198 causing a left front tire rub on the No. 12 Dodge.
Newman was forced to pit under green to change tires as Mears began to check out to a two-second lead. Mears had troubles on lap 229, however, when he slid through the grass attempting to get onto pit road under green.
That gave the lead to Martin with 37 to go. The leaders commenced to making the races final green flag pit stops. When all was said and done, however, Mears managed to cycle back into the lead.
With 16 to go, a caution for debris slowed the field.
Most of the lead lap cars pitted but Stewart stayed out to improve his track position. Dave Blaney also stayed out and inherited the lead followed by Martin and Mears who both took two tires on their stops.
The race restarted with 11 to go and quickly became a three wide - three man battle for the win with Biffle powering through the middle of Blaney and Martin to stick the No. 16 Ford into the front.
Martin, however, put the muscle to Biffle. The teammates battled door-to- door on the final lap; with Biffle winning by a nose and collecting his ninth career win.
Tony Stewart finished 15th winning the Cup series championship by 35 points. Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, Rusty Wallace, Jeremy Mayfield and Kurt Busch wrap up the final top ten in the 2005 chase for the Nextel Cup.
Notably, Jeff Gordon sealed up the 11th spot and a million dollar bonus with a strong ninth place run.
"All that matters to me is performing and running up front," said Gordon. "The points take care of themselves when you run good. I want to battle for wins and be competitive. I didn't focus on points once during these last ten races."
There were eight cautions for 37 laps and 12 lead changes among 22 drivers.