Wimmer Wins Arizona Busch Race; Biffle Claims Championship
Posted November 9, 2002 11:40 a.m. EST
AVONDALE, Ariz. — Scott Wimmer won the Basha's Supermarket 200 under a yellow flag, but this was Greg Biffle's day.
Biffle clinched the NASCAR Busch Series championship on Saturday, leading all but the last 16 laps of the 200-lap race at Phoenix International Speedway. He wound up third, just ahead of series runner-up Jason Keller.
Biffle is the only driver to have won titles in both the Busch and Craftsman Truck Series (2000). He has given team owner Jack Roush his only NASCAR championships.
Wimmer, one of the hottest drivers in the circuit in the last half of the season and a distant third in the standings, won for the third time in the last seven races.
Stacy Compton, who passed Biffle for second on lap 195, appeared to be closing in on the leader when Jeff Green slammed into the wall on the 196th lap, bringing out the eighth caution flag of the race.
Though Green was not injured, NASCAR chose to let the race go to the finish behind the pace car, rather than red flag it in hopes of finishing under green.
"I always like to race to the green, and I wish they'd put in a rule that we'd have to race five laps under green at the end," Wimmer said. "But it was a pretty big mess down there in Turn 1, and I guess it would have taken quite a while to clean it up."
Biffle entered the race with an almost insurmountable 212-point lead on Keller. Still, he battled the second-place driver as if it were a lot closer.
The championship contenders ran 1-2 most of the race. Biffle, the defending champ at this event, said trying to keep Keller behind him probably cost him the victory.
"I've got to blame Jason Keller for that," Biffle said, grinning. "He ran me hard. I didn't want him to lead a lap, and he made me run my tires too hard."
Keller, wearing a "Go Daddy" T-shirt his children gave him, said: "When we came in, we knew this was going to be a real long shot for us winning the championship.
"Greg did what he needed to do and ran up front all day long."
Wimmer didn't get past Biffle's Ford easily, either. After pulling alongside the leader on the 184th lap, Wimmer needed two more laps of side-by-side racing on the one-mile oval before he was able to drive his Bill Davis Racing Pontiac into the lead.
"I've never had somebody put so much pressure on me as Wimmer and not bump into me," Biffle said. "I was just trying my best to stay in front of him and I finally realized I just didn't have the race car."
The winner averaged 96.709 mph in the race slowed by 40 laps of caution.
Biffle, who leads Keller by 227 points, wrapped up the title with one race remaining. He will move up to Winston Cup in 2003, driving a fifth Roush Racing entry in NASCAR's top stock-car series.