Greg Biffle, driver of the 16 3M Filtrete Ford Fusion, became the sixth different driver to reach the NASCAR Sprint Cup Victory Lane in 2012. Biffle has quietly led the points, and last night, he perfected a quiet win. With 30 laps remaining, Biffle caught Jimmie Johnson, who led the most laps on the night with 156, and never looked back.
The win gives Biffle a legitimate claim to the Sprint Cup points lead. Going into last night’s race, many were wondering how long Biffle could stay atop the points and even remain in the Top 10. Those questions are now put to rest, and Biffle’s lead is 19 points over the second-place tie of his Roush-Fenway teammate Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
There were only two cautions during the race, and the second came at Lap 93. That left an unprecedented 241 Green Flag laps to make the Samsung 500 the fastest NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Texas Motor Speedway history. That surprise of the night led to problems for teams like Tony Stewart and his 14 Mobile 1 Chevrolet. With only two opportunities for adjustments under caution, Stewart was unable to keep up with the rest of the field. He finished two laps down along with his teammate and winner of the last race, Ryan Newman.
Casual Fan Casualty
While I am not a fan of wrecks to make the racing more exciting, last night needed something to keep the casual fan interested. A fantom debris caution (or three) would have been helpful. Then again, that’s what NASCAR gets criticised for, so I’m glad that didn’t happen.
Late in the race, one of the drivers tried to create a caution by throwing a water bottle on the track. That move has worked multiple times in the past, but last night, it did not. One of the FOX cameramen did an excellent job by finding that debris on the track at the perfect time. He or she was filming the water bottle just as it was demolished by a car. There was no need for a caution after that, as there was little left to cause a debris concern.
NASCAR just can’t seem to win this year from a ratings standpoint outside of the Monday night Daytona 500, and I’m willing to bet last night was no different. As I’ve written before, night races are a major way for NASCAR to increase ratings and re-build its stagnant fan base. I applaud Texas Motor Speedway for scheduling their race at night. Unfortunately, the dynamics of the race didn’t allow for NASCAR to take advantage of the prime time TV audience.
It’s back to Sunday afternoon racing next week as the Sprint Cup Series will be in Kansas. The Green Flag will fly around 1:15 ET. If you live within a reasonable distance to Kansas Speedway, I highly recommend you make the trip. There is a great view of the track almost everywhere there is a seat. Plus, there are plenty of things for kids and adults to do around the track.