Bodine Holds Off Biffle In Fantastic Finish To Win The Kroger 300 Presented By Oreo
Todd Bodine skipped a chance to start 17th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Sirius 400 at Michigan International Speedway to stay at Kentucky Speedway to complete the rain-suspended NASCAR Busch Series "Kroger 300 Presented by Oreo."
The move paid off as the veteran driver claimed his first series victory since March, 2001.
"I made a deal with the guys that if there were any conflicts (between Busch and Winston Cup racing) that I would stay here with the 92," Bodine said.
Bodine, who started sixth, moved up through the field to as high as second on Saturday night. He pulled his No. 92 Excedrin Chevrolet in for a routine pit stop after an accident on Lap 84, and dropped back to 30th when the race was stopped on Lap 87 due to a sudden rainstorm.
As the race resumed on Sunday afternoon, Bodine again charged through the field and overtook Greg Biffle (No. 60 Grainger Ford) on Lap 190 of the 200-lap event.
Bodine was in control and on his way to the win when a red flag was thrown on Lap 195 for oil on the track.
"I don't know if I was using my brakes too much or what," Biffle said, "but I got the left front tire a little too hot and it started to push pretty good. That caution was good for me to cool the tires. I never thought Bodine could catch me with the lead I had."
The red flag set the stage for a spectacular finish.
The restart on Lap 198 saw Biffle slide low in Turn 3 to get past Bodine. Biffle held off the hard-charging No. 92 and held the lead as the field took the white flag.
With the checkered flag cocked and ready to fly, Bodine got a good run on the outside coming off Turn 4. Biffle held a slight advantage coming to the finish line when two cars bumped.
"I went into Turns 3 and 4 across the bottom and didn't turn very good," Biffle said. "I got on the gas early which got me pushing up the race track. I didn't want to let up on the throttle because that would definitely had given it away. I just tried to keep after it and pushed up and squeezed Bodine there."
While Biffle held his line, Bodine continued to gain ground and pulled even with the No. 60 before the cars bumped a second time.
The contact caused Biffle's machine to spin sideways and Bodine was able to hold his line to take the win as the two cars crossed the finish line .036 seconds apart. It was the second-closest margin of victory in Kentucky Speedway history.
Bodine credited his competitor as the smoke cleared.
"I knew I had one shot at it, so I went high," Bodine said. "We bumped and hit and I think I beat him by an inch. That's great racing. Greg is a great racer and there is nobody who I'd rather finish in front of than him."
Nine drivers exchanged the race lead 15 times during "The Kroger 300 Presented by Oreo," including seven lead changes in the final 50 laps.
Rookie Scott Riggs (No. 10 Nestle Nesquik Ford) led 44 laps on Saturday night, but it was Biffle, the 2001 Busch Rookie of the Year, who was at the front of the field when the rains fell and halted the race after 86 laps at 9:14 p.m. Riggs had slipped to ninth.
Biffle and several other leaders pitted under the three caution laps during the restart on Sunday, allowing Mike Wallace (No. 4 Biagi Brothers Chevrolet) to take the lead.
Nine laps later, Riggs regained the lead, and held until he pitted under yellow on Lap 119. That stop by Riggs allowed Biffle to regain the lead for a 31-lap stretch.
A flurry of pit stops with about 50 laps to go allowed Ashton Lewis, Jr. (No. 46 Civil Air Patrol Chevrolet) and Ricky Hendrick (No. 5 GMAC Chevrolet) to each lead one lap.
Riggs took control of the pace again on Lap 152, but relinquished it 24 laps later to Biffle when the two drivers pitted along with the other race leaders for a splash of fuel under a caution that was caused by debris on the back stretch.
Tony Raines (No. 33 Aleve Chevrolet) finished third at Kentucky Speedway for the second year in a row.
"We used the same car as last year," Raines said. "I haven't been running good over the last three races, but today we stopped the bleeding."
Riggs' fourth place finish allowed "The Kroger 300 Presented by Oreo" pole sitter to move to second in points. Scott Wimmer (No. 23 Siemens Pontiac) rounded out the top five.
Jack Sprague (No. 24 NetZero Chevrolet) maintains his series points lead after finishing a lap down in 16th. Biffle's second-place showing moves him up one spot to third in the standings. Jason Keller (No. 57 Alberstons Ford) completed just 144 laps before engine trouble forced him to park, dropping him from second to fourth in the points race.
Ten cars finished on the lead lap of the race. The average speed was 127.164 miles per hour, up from 118.590 mph in 2001.
Racing returns to Kentucky Speedway July 12-13 with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series "Kroger 225" and ARCA RE/MAX Series "Blue Grass Quality Meats 200."
Visit www.kentuckyspeedway.com or phone 888-652-RACE for ticket information.