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Nascar Nation 5.17.2006

By Rick Racela

In numerous races this season, Greg Biffle has led a large amount of laps. Let’s take a look: California – Led most laps and had car to beat, engine failure, finished 42nd; Martinsville – Led before being involved in an accident, finished 31st.
 Texas – Led 45 laps before being spun out, finished 42nd; Phoenix – Led most laps, ran out of gas at finish, finished 16th. Talladega – As high as third before engine failure, finished 38th; Darlington Speedway – Led most laps, no problems, won race.
Saturday night was indeed the end of Biffle’s early season woes, as he won the Dodge Charger 500 at Darlington. Biffle took the lead away from Jimmie Johnson on lap 229 and never looked back. Jeff Gordon and Biffle battled down straight to the end.
“I knew Jeff was going to get to my rear bumper,” Biffle said. “Catching me was one thing. Passing me was going to be another.” Gordon did catch Biffle, but lap traffic came into play. Wisely, many cars moved out of the way to allow the leaders to race for the win.
 Biffle commented on the lap cars: “I was praying for help, I was begging. Let them give me a lane,” he said. “A lot of guys just showed respect out there.”
Gordon finished second, while Matt Kenseth finished third. Points leader Jimmie Johnson finished fourth. After the race during a post race interview, Johnson looked happy and was joking around. At the end of his interview, Johnson commented ” I just want to wish my mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law a Happy Mother’s Day.” When told he was a smart racer by the pit road reporter, he jokingly replied “I’m points racing everywhere.”
 Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fifth despite feeling sick (his crew even had a backup driver ready if needed). Martin Truex Jr. finished 14th in one of his strongest showings of the season.
  Busch Series:
Well, it appears that Denny Hamlin’s hand is feeling better. After last week’s second place Nextel Cup Series finish in Richmond, Hamlin took the Diamond Hill Plywood 200. With Hamlin’s victory, all 12 races in the Busch Series this season have been won by Nextel Cup Series regulars.
Hamlin led the most laps en route to his second victory of the season, winning the race at Darlington from the pole. When asked about his hand, Hamlin said “It’s really looking good.” “I don’t know, maybe I need to cut my right hand because I seem to run better with an injury.”  Matt Kenseth had a strong run finishing second, while Jamie McMurray drove his Busch car to a third place finish. Mark Martin and Greg Biffle rounded out the top five.
Other News :
Dale Jarrett will leave Robert Yates Racing to join Michael Waltrip Racing in a Toyota next season. Jarrett has spent nearly his entire career in a Ford, winning all but three races in one. He will be the second announced driver to field a Camry next season.
Coming Up:
The Nextel Cup Series and Craftsman Truck Series head to Charlotte, the Cup for the All-Star weekend and the trucks for the Quaker Steak & Lube 200, while the Busch Series enjoys another weekend off. Don’t miss any of the action from Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Bruce Knoll, 14, of Eldora,  can be contacted by email at bknoll jr4cmcherald@yahoo.com

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