Jimmie Johnson looked as if he had already finished the hardest work. After starting at the back of the pack, he had moved up quickly, and when he passed Brad Keselowski for the lead on lap 191 of 200, his No. 48 Chevrolet seemed to be the superior car.
Then Johnson’s engine faltered with only six laps remaining. He lost the race — and the NASCAR Sprint Cup points lead — to Greg Biffle on Sunday in Brooklyn, Mich.
Biffle, from Vancouver, Wash., won the race at Michigan International Speedway, taking advantage when Johnson left the track because of engine trouble. Johnson started the race from the back because of an engine change, and he couldn’t hold on at the end. Johnson finished 27th.
After Johnson’s mishap, there was a caution for oil on the track. Biffle held off Keselowski by 0.416 seconds in the green-white-checkered finish.
Biffle took over the points lead, while Johnson dropped from first to fourth. Matt Kenseth moved up a spot to second despite a 17th-place showing.
“I know that a lot of people don’t expect us to win the championship, and don’t expect us to compete for the title,” Biffle said. “I don’t care what they say or who they want to talk about, but we will be a factor when it comes down to Homestead (Fla.). I promise you that.”
Enumclaw’s Kasey Kahne finished third in the 400-mile race and remained 11th in the driver standings.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Marcos Ambrose followed.
It was the 12th victory for Roush Fenway Racing at MIS, breaking a tie with the Wood Brothers for the most wins at the track.
It was Biffle’s second win of the year and 18th on the Cup circuit.
Bobby Labonte went into a spin on lap 65, and pole winner Mark Martin went sliding off toward pit road and crashed.
The side of Martin’s car was impaled by the end of a wall, just in front of the left rear tire and dangerously close to the driver’s seat. But Martin was able to get out and walk away.
Ron Capps topped John Force to win the Funny Car field in the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., to take the season lead with one race to go in the regular season. Other winners were Erica Enders (Pro Stock), Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). … Police say a car taking part in a rally race in Belgrade, Serbia, plunged into a crowd, killing one spectator and injuring three others.