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Biffle secures Busch championship

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 10, 2002

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- NASCAR crowned its first champion of 2002 on Saturday and toasted a future star.

Greg Biffle's third-place finish in the Bashas' Supermarkets 200 was good enough to win the Busch Series championship. Biffle leads second-place Jason Keller by 227 points with one race to go. Keller finished fourth Saturday.

Biffle becomes the first driver to win championships in both the Craftsman Truck and Busch series. He won the truck title in 2000.

Biffle was dominating the race at Phoenix International Raceway when Scott Wimmer passed him on Lap 186.

Wimmer then held off Stacy Compton to win his third race of the season and establish himself as a future contender. Biffle and Wimmer were the only drivers to lead. Biffle started on the pole and led the first 185.

"It's been a long season, and Jason Keller, what a competitor he's been. He put a lot of pressure on me today," Biffle said. "Scott Wimmer had a great car and got us in the end. I'm excited to get my second (NASCAR) title."

Biffle moves to Winston Cup next season for owner Jack Roush, who could add the Cup title this year if Mark Martin can make up ground in the last two races.

BASHAS' SUPERMARKETS 200

1. (18) Scott Wimmer, Pontiac, 200, $61,620.

2. (13) Stacy Compton, Chevrolet, 200, $41,725.

3. (1) Greg Biffle, Ford, 200, $42,925.

4. (4) Jason Keller, Ford, 200, $37,875.

5. (3) David Green, Chevrolet, 200, $25,775.

6. (7) Jimmy Spencer, Chevrolet, 200, $20,475.

7. (8) Johnny Sauter, Chevrolet, 200, $30,875.

8. (11) Ashton Lewis Jr., Chevrolet, 200, $23,675.

9. (28) Wally Dallenbach Jr., Dodge, 200, $17,625.

10. (19) Kerry Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 200, $23,325.

11. (39) Brian Vickers, Dodge, 200, $20,625.

12. (22) Ron Hornaday Jr., Chevrolet, 200, $21,975.

13. (26) Kevin Grubb, Chevrolet, 200, $21,750.

14. (30) Mark Green, Ford, 200, $19,220.

15. (6) Casey Mears, Dodge, 200, $20,895.

16. (2) Randy LaJoie, Chevrolet, 200, $27,320.

17. (5) Jeff Burton, Ford, 200, $16,025.

18. (34) Kasey Kahne, Ford, 200, $17,920.

19. (23) Mike McLaughlin, Pontiac, 200, $25,295.

20. (17) Elton Sawyer, Chevrolet, 200, $23,950.

21. (29) Mike Wallace, Chevrolet, 199, $15,525.

22. (14) Jack Sprague, Chevrolet, 199, $19,420.

23. (35) Shane Hall, Chevrolet, 199, $15,250.

24. (20) Bobby Hamilton Jr., Ford, 198, $24,645.

25. (27) Larry Foyt, Chevrolet, 198, $19,195.

26. (37) Joe Buford, Ford, 198, $15,025.

27. (25) Hank Parker Jr., Dodge, 197, $18,995.

28. (31) Tony Raines, Chevrolet, 196, crash, $18,945.

29. (40) Chad Chaffin, Chevrolet, 196, $14,875

30. (9) Kenny Wallace, Chevrolet, 196, $16,925.

31. (24) Jeff Green, Chevrolet, 195, crash, $14,775.

32. (33) Bruce Bechtel, Ford, 195, $14,720.

33. (43) John Hayden, Chevrolet, 194, $14,650.

34. (21) Todd Bodine, Chevrolet, 184, $22,120.

35. (32) P.J. Jones, Chevrolet, 182, $14,585.

36. (16) Tim Sauter, Chevrolet, 155, crash, $16,550.

37. (12) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 140, crash, $15,915.

38. (15) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 82, crash, $16,480.

39. (41) Mike Harmon, Chevrolet, 78, brakes, $14,445.

40. (36) Scott Riggs, Ford, 40, engine failure, $21,910.

41. (10) Shane Hmiel, Chevrolet, 13, crash, $16,360.

42. (38) Larry Gunselman, Chevrolet, 3, brakes, $14,315.

43. (42) Brad Teague, Ford, 0, brakes, $14,281.

RACE STATISTICS

Avg. speed of race winner: 96.709 mph. Time of race: 2 hours, 4 minutes, 5 seconds. Margin of victory: Under Caution. Caution flags: 8 for 40 laps. Lead changes: 1 among 2 drivers. Lap leaders: G. Biffle 1-185; S. Wimmer 186-200. Top 10 in points: G. Biffle -- 4,754; J. Keller -- 4,527; S. Wimmer -- 4,308; M. McLaughlin -- 4,150; J. Sprague -- 4,076; J. McMurray -- 4,026; K. Wallace -- 3,987; S. Compton -- 3,918; S. Riggs -- 3,911; B. Hamilton Jr. -- 3,898.

DELAYING THE TITLE: The Winston Cup title has been clinched with one race remaining in each of the past four seasons, but Martin, who trails Tony Stewart by 112 points, hopes to postpone any celebrations until next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Martin can stay in the hunt by finishing 16th or better. Stewart can retain the lead by finishing 30th or better.

Martin usually runs well at PIR. He leads all driver with seven top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 14 races at Phoenix. He won in 1993 and is a four-time runner-up.

THREE-PEAT?: Jeff Burton is the only one of Roush Racing's four Winston Cup drivers without a victory this season, but that could change today.

Burton is the two-time defending champion of the Checker Auto Parts 500K at Phoenix International Raceway.

"I like this race track," said Burton, who will start 20th in the No. 99 Ford. "We didn't used to run very well here, then a couple years ago I changed the way I drive the track. It helped tremendously."

Burton and the late Davey Allison are the only drivers with multiple victories at the flat 1-mile track, which has been on the schedule since 1988. Burton has finished no worse than fourth the past four years.

Teammates Martin, Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth have combined for 10 wins this season and are among the top eight in the standings. Burton, ranked 12th with four top fives and 13 top 10s, would like to join the party.

"We've had a lot of success at Phoenix lately," Burton said. "But a lot of things that worked last year won't necessarily work this year. We have to be willing to change.

"Just because we won the last two years doesn't mean we will win this year."

PIT STOPS: Ford drivers have won 10 of 14 Phoenix races, Chevrolet and Pontiac two each. ... Only one PIR race has been won from the front row, Burton from second in 2000.

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