It’s official: Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman fill last two Chase berths

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Greg Biffle may have finished Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway in 19th place, two laps off the lead, but it was still enough to get Biffle into the upcoming Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Biffle joins Ryan Newman, whose spot was all but assured heading into Saturday’s race, as the final two entrants to fill out the expanded 16-driver Chase field.

Biffle will make his seventh career appearance in the Chase, ranked in the 15th position, with Newman 16th.

“It’s got to be the toughest race of my life,” Biffle told ESPN afterward. “Man, I drove so hard. We just missed the setup, our whole company did, myself, Carl (Edwards) and Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.).

“It was real frustrating. We had to finish 20th or higher. Tonight was not pretty, I drove as hard as I could and it was enough to get us in. It was all I could do.”

Added Newman, “Everybody’s stepped up. It’s time to step up even more now. We’ll go see if we can make the best of it.”

Biffle’s finish obscured what had been an outstanding last-ditch attempt by third-place finisher Clint Bowyer to make the Chase, only to fall short by seven points.

Bowyer had been in the Chase hunt until last Sunday night at Atlanta, when a broken transmission shifter relegated him to a 38th-place finish, dropping him 23 points out of the Chase.

“If you make the Chase, you get to compete for the championship, but truth be told, we’re not there right now,” Bowyer said. “We have to build on the momentum we had tonight. It’s definitely frustrating not to make it.

“The 2 and 24 (Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon) have pretty much been the class of the field this year. That was our best effort. That’s all I had. That’s all we had as our ace. We put it all out there and we were still third-best.”

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Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.