LOUDON, N.H. - In 12 laps Sunday, Greg Biffle went from long shot to legitimate contender for the Sprint Cup Series championship.
Mired in a 33-race winless slump that included all of this season, Biffle admitted that he and his Roush Fenway Racing team should have been given good odds as the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup got under way.
With his surprisingly effortless pass of then-leader Jimmie Johnson with 11 of 300 laps remaining and his victory in Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Biffle not only thrust himself into the thick of the championship picture but may have earned a new label - favorite.
"The overlooked, dark horse, not the favorite - makes no difference to me," Biffle's crew chief, Greg Erwin, said of how his team was perceived entering the Chase.
"It's common sense. You've got a guy out there that's won eight races (Kyle Busch), you've got a guy that's won six (Carl Edwards), you've got a guy that's won two (in a row, Johnson). Of course, they're going to be the favorites. That's just human nature."
The fact that to get the win Biffle ran down Johnson, who was on a tear entering the Chase and won the past two championships, was rewarding in its own right.
"We have to beat those guys in order to get that Sprint Cup trophy," Biffle said. "That's what we're here to do. That's what we're thankful for, fortunate enough to do today."
There also was some historical irony surrounding Biffle's win.
He ended Johnson's two-race winning streak, which has fueled Johnson's run to what would be a record-tying third consecutive series championship.
Biffle's victory, however, has revived the hopes of his own record-setting run: Should he win the Cup title, he would be the only driver to ever win championships in all three of NASCAR's national series - Cup, Nationwide and Trucks.
"I think it inspires me a little bit to want to make a statement, I guess," Biffle said of his victory, his first since last season at Kansas Speedway. "I've been thinking about it for quite some time.
"I just got to get my car right on Friday and Saturday and drive the best race I can on Sunday. The best man's going to win at the end of the 10 weeks."
Biffle's win and the disastrous day of previous points leader Kyle Busch jumbled up the standings as the series moves to Dover, Del., next weekend.
Carl Edwards, who finished third Sunday, and Johnson are tied atop the standings. Biffle is now 30 points behind them. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (finished fifth) and Jeff Burton (finished fourth) are fourth and fifth, respectively.
Busch, who ended up 34th after his car suffered a broken front sway bar, a one-lap penalty by NASCAR for "pulling up to pit" and a wreck, dropped to eighth in the standings. He's now 74 points behind the leaders with nine races remaining to determine the champion.
"I felt like we were a definite threat for the Chase if we made it, you know, because of the momentum we've had and because of how good (the) race tracks are in the Chase for me," Biffle said.
"Dover, Homestead. We've won at Texas, Kansas. Those are all just - there's a bunch of great race tracks for us in the Chase."
Johnson took the loss in stride.
"Wedd love to have been in Victory Lane celebrating," he said. "But, the big picture, second place is not a bad day at the office.
"So, I'm very happy with the performance. We had great (pit) stops, (a) fast car. The only weakness we had all day long was on the restarts. Greg was just too strong on the short run."