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Archive for Monday, August 23, 2004

Biffle bags Marketplace 400 victory

Teammate Martin places second at NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway

August 23, 2004

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— Greg Biffle was proud of himself for an unlikely reason after winning the NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway.

"The guys did a great job, and I didn't make any mistakes, which is pretty unusual for me to race an entire day and not make any mistakes," Biffle said after pulling away from teammate Mark Martin for an easy victory Sunday in the GFS Marketplace 400.

The only driver to win both the Busch and Craftsman Truck series championships finished 20th in points last year as a rookie and failed to become a contender this season. He had just one top 10-finish in the first 19 races this season and is not a contender for NASCAR's new "Chase for the Nextel Cup" championship playoff.

But things began to change earlier this month, with finishes of fourth at Pocono and sixth at Indianapolis before a disappointing 35th-place run a week ago on the road course at Watkins Glen.

Martin and crew chief Pat Tryson chose to take only two tires on their final pit stop, while Biffle and the rest of the leaders took four. That gave Martin track position, but he was unable to come close to chasing down Biffle's Ford.

Biffle beat his Roush Racing teammate to the finish line by 8.216 seconds.

Franchitti 1st at Pikes Peak

Fountain, Colo. -- Although Dario Franchitti was criticized for making the jump to the IRL from the former CART series, his decision is starting to look like a good one.

He has two wins this year -- including Sunday at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Franchitti shook off a potentially dangerous pit mishap and used a caution midway through the race to make up ground. He wound up leading the final 63 laps of the IRL's Honda 225.

Franchitti, who held the lead four times for a total of 128 laps, went into the pits on lap 85 for four new tires and fuel. As he started to pull out of the pits, fuel man Mike Miller had trouble getting the hose disconnected from the car and was clipped by the rear tire.

Miller wound up with a twisted knee, and Franchitti lost about 10 seconds, allowing three drivers to pass him. But what could have been the difference in the race turned out to be just a speed bump for Franchitti.

The Scottish driver took advantage of a yellow flag to clear debris on lap 120, caught up to the leaders and passed Sam Hornish Jr. 12 laps later. Adrian Fernandez stayed close for about 35 laps before Franchitti started pulling away after another caution. Franchitti took the checkered flag 2.2429 seconds ahead of Fernandez.

Lehto, Werner clinch title

Elkhart Lake, Wis. -- JJ Lehto and Marco Werner clinched the American Le Mans Series driver championship when they drove an Audi R8 to victory Sunday at Road America.

Werner, series champ last year when he co-drove with Frank Biela, became the first driver in history to win two titles in the series' top Prototype class. Lehto won his first title with two races remaining this season.

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