Biffle finally gets back to Victory Lane in Texas

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FORT WORTH, TEXAS (AP) - While the 49-race winless streak was wearing somewhat on Greg Biffle, there were also enough encouraging signs during the 18-month drought that he would win more races.

“It will take years off your life. I’ve probably lost several,” Biffle said. “What kept me going or what keeps your spirit up is when you run good. … We have run good, we just hadn’t finished.”

Until getting to Texas, where Jack Roush’s drivers have always been good.

Biffle held on tight in the fastest Sprint Cup race ever on the 1 1/2-mile, high-banked track, pulling away after charging below Jimmie Johnson for a winning pass with 30 laps remaining on a windy and fast-paced Saturday night.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup season points leader after five consecutive races now has a victory to go with that lofty status.

“To win like this and put a bunch of ground on the guys behind us certainly makes a statement, I think, 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.

For Roush, it was his ninth victory in 23 Cup races at Texas, and completed a weekend sweep in the Lone Star State. The team owner won his ninth Nationwide race in Texas, and fourth in a row, when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. went to Victory Lane on Friday night.

After passing Johnson with a strong move deep down in Turn 3 _ “I knew the team would forgive me if I wrecked it trying to beat him,” Biffle said _ the No. 16 Ford went on to a 3.2-second victory with an average speed of 160.577 mph.

Biffle’s 17th career victory was his first since an October 2010 race in Kansas, where the series goes next week.

A decade after winning the Nationwide Series season championship, which came after a NASCAR trucks championship, maybe this could be the year the 42-year-old Biffle becomes the first driver with a NASCAR series trifecta of titles.

“When I moved from the Truck Series to Nationwide, it was a huge step. It was much, much harder. And when I moved from the Nationwide to the Cup Series, I had no idea that the competition was going to be what it was,” he said. “I knew it was going to be hard. … But this year is my year, so I’m going to keep after it all the way to Homestead.”

Johnson led three times for 156 of the 334 laps while going for owner Rick Hendrick’s 200th victory. But the five-time Cup champion never recovered, even scraping the No. 48 Chevrolet hard into the wall trying to catch up after Biffle drove under him and passed him for the final time.

“I’m definitely disappointed, but we had a great race car,” said Johnson, who had led only 119 laps combined his first 17 Texas starts. “I just got tangled up in some lapped traffic and the No. 16 made a great move and got by me. Then I was pacing him from there and didn’t have anything left to go get him.”

It was Johnson’s fifth runner-up finish in Texas.

Mark Martin was third in a Michael Waltrip-owned Toyota, while his teammate and polesitter Martin Truex Jr. led 69 laps and finished sixth, his fourth consecutive top 10 this season. Hendrick driver Jeff Gordon was fourth.

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