Jeff Gordon rebounded from starting last on the grid to finish second behind Mark Martin in a thrilling finish at Michigan International Speedway.
Gordon had to start from the back of the grid as a penalty for an engine change, following a failure during the first practice session of the weekend, but he made steady progress during the race and was among those who saved enough fuel in the final stint in order to complete the race without running out of gasoline.
The four-time Sprint Cup champion was sixth on the final restart with 43 laps remaining and after completing a few laps of fuel-saving he was able to get by Carl Edwards and then benefit from Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle running out of gas on the last lap, while he passed Denny Hamlin for second place.
"Well, I think we saved a little too much fuel, actually," Gordon said. "We were running a slower pace than those guys up front being in traffic as well, I felt like I saved a pretty good amount under that final caution.
"I ran pretty hard the whole time and we pretty much knew that Mark (Martin) would have pushed when we got to him. So I was happy to get by Denny (Hamlin) and come home second. I hate to see those guys run out (of fuel) but that's just the way some of these races turn out. We played it the best we could."
Despite his strong finish, Gordon believes his team needs to get back in contention for victories if it is to seriously challenge for this year's title.
"I feel right now we need to be a little bit more competitive battling for wins," said Gordon. "I mean, Tony Stewart has been so strong lately, that they really got some momentum. So, you know, I feel like we out ran them today, which I was proud of that.
"But Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin, those are going to be guys that are going to be tough to beat, as well. You know, you never know who really is going to be the team to beat once that Chase starts. You've got an idea of a few of them. You'll be surprised who steps it up, guys like Edwards and Newman. Who knows?
"But right now, I think it's about keeping ourselves up front, you know, trying to battle for wins."
Gordon remains second in the driver standings 47 points behind Tony Stewart.