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It's like old times as Biffle eases way to Darlington pole

DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Sprint Cup points leader Greg Biffle feels he's running like he used to at Darlington Raceway and that's bad news for the rest of the Southern 500 field.

Biffle earned his second pole at Darlington and the 11th of his career with a fast lap of 180.257 mph Friday to squeeze past the Hendrick Motorsports duo of Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne.

"I said it three times, I'm having such a great time driving these race cars," Biffle said. "This is what a race car driver looks forward to in showing up every weekend and having a fast car to drive. They're sure making my life easy."

Ryan Newman starts fourth followed by Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin, a winner at Phoenix and Kansas this year. Regan Smith, the 2011 Darlington winner, was ninth and Jeff Burton 10th.

Danica Patrick will start 38th for her second-ever Sprint Cup event. She was guaranteed a spot in tonight's race (6:30 p.m., Ch. 29, Radio 550 AM) because of the No. 10 car's points standing.

For a long time Friday, it looked like an all-Hendrick front row after Kahne had a hot lap of 179.556 mph and teammate Johnson matched him a short time later. That's when Biffle took to the track for his pole-winning performance.

"It was a pretty uneventful lap," Biffle said. "The car's got a ton of grip. It stuck to the race track really, really well."

And it's got Biffle thinking he's got the stuff to continue his strong start: "I feel that special season already. I certainly think that we're going to be tough in competition all year," he said.

Biffle has been a Darlington master since first running here in 2003. He won in 2005 and 2006 after the track's schedule was cut to one race and the date moved to Mother's Day weekend. Biffle's finished in the top 15 or better in eight of his 11 Sprint Cup races here.

Still, Biffle was uneasy coming to Darlington this week. For all his success, Biffle's car wasn't what he felt it should be the past four races at the track. He was 43rd in 2008, then 22nd two years later.

"The car just wasn't in the race track," he said. "I knew what I needed to do different."

Johnson will start next to Biffle based on owner's points. Johnson and Kahne give the Hendrick team a strong chance to win that elusive 200th career Sprint Cup event. It has been 16 races since Johnson's victory at Kansas last October brought Hendrick Motorsports its 199th win.

"I left a little speed out there and Greg certainly found it," Johnson said. "It would've been nice to have a Hendrick front row. But it was a very productive day."

Patrick was also hopeful after her first time around "The Lady in Black." She scraped the wall several times during practice laps in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup cars. Patrick hopes to improve on her 38th-place finish at Daytona, although she says just lasting to the end of tonight's race would be an accomplishment to build on.

On Friday night, Joey Logano wrecked leader Elliott Sadler five laps from the end, then broke free during a green-white-checkered finish at Darlington Raceway for his second straight Nationwide Series victory.

Logano was in third place after the fifth caution period tightened up the race at the end. Logano bumped Sadler at the restart, turning the lead car into the wall. Logano then shot past Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin during NASCAR's version of overtime and held on for his third series victory of the season.

Logano said he'd used bump-drafting tactic with Sadler earlier in the race and was trying to again help get the Nationwide regular out front. When Sadler's car turned right into the wall, "my heart dropped," Logano said.

"You don't want to be the guy that does something like that," Logano continued. "But at no point in my mind did I think, 'Man, I'm going to wreck him to win the race.' "

Sadler was visibly angry when he left the car.

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