Matt Kenseth fended off Kyle Busch to claim his third win of the season while reigning champion Jimmie Johnson took a major hit on his title hopes after crashing out of the race.
In a night where the Roush Fenway Fords looked to be the class of the field, Kenseth made the most of his Fusion, timed his strategy and his moves to perfection, overtaking Busch following a late restart after the Joe Gibbs Racing had paced the field for 110 consecutive laps.
Once on clean air Kenseth was able to open a gap and then keep Busch on his mirrors, hoping the race would go green all the way to the checkered flag.
However, with 18 laps remaining the caution waved after Johnson got loose while trying to overtake Ryan Newman for seventh place into turn one. The No. 48 car drifted towards the inside of the track but Johnson couldn't avoid his car then turning right, up into the banking and straight into the wall at speed. The massive impact from which he was able to walk away unhurt brought Johnson's day to a sudden end while seriously damaging his points tally in the playoff series ranking after he was classified 34th.
On the final restart, 12 laps from the end, Kenseth was able to pull clear of Busch and fend him off, putting things right after he had slipped back in a previous restart against the Joe Gibbs Racing driver while lining up beside him.
Kenseth's win vaults him up to third in the standings, while his teammate Carl Edwards continues to lead the Chase trailed by Richard Childress Racing's Kevin Harvick by five points.
"It was an awesome win for us," said Kenseth. "I knew we had a car that if we could get it to the front it would be hard to beat. But it was really hard to pass tonight, specially after you had 20 laps or more on your tires, you needed to get it done right away.
"It was a fun race with Kyle. We had a pretty decent restart there in the second-to-last one, got by Denny [Hamlin] and Carl [Edwards]. After running Kyle down it was tough to get by him. Glad we could make it happen because it was challenging."
Kenseth's and Johnson's race had looked almost equally promising earlier while they run first and second before a caution ahead of the halfway point shuffled the order as tire strategies came into play. Both of them took on a full set of Goodyear's while a number of drivers led by Tony Stewart took only right-side tires, but despite being on equal footing, Johnson struggled to make as much progress as his Roush Fenway rival in the end, the Hendrick driver only racing back to the top 10 again shorty before his incident.
"The 39 just got tight on my right rear quarter panel getting in to turn one and just took the air off the side of my car and around I went," said Johnson. "From there I was trying to save the slide, got pointed back to the fence and hammered the wall."
In a day when overtaking was at a premium as proved by Johnson's incident, the younger of the Busch brothers made impressive progress after being forced to start from the back of the field following an engine change. Busch lamented having lost a possible win, although his second place allows him to move back up to fourth in the title race.
"That 17 [Kenseth], he found something that none of us could find tonight and made something out of nothing," said Busch. "He just outdrove me. Great run by the [team]. The guys did a great job and gave me a great car. Best run we've had here in a while. Still coming up short."
Edwards extended his impressive top-10 run of results in the Chase with a third-place finish ahead of Red Bull's Kasey Kahne who scored his third-consecutive top-5 finish in the Chase. Richard Petty's Marcos Ambrose was a surprising fifth after running towards the front of the field for most of the night as his teammate AJ Allmendinger who was sixth behind Harvick.
Tony Stewart looked as a victory contender early on, leading the first 42 laps from pole position but didn't have as much speed in the deciding stages. A late clash with Greg Biffle cost him a few spots but he recovered most of those to finish eighth ahead of JGR's Denny Hamlin and his teammate Ryan Newman.
Penske teammates Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski had both a tough night, never being in contention for a top finish. In the end Busch salvaged a 13th place while Keselowski was the first car a lap down in 16th.
It was also a difficult night for Hendrick Motorsports as besides Johnson's accident, Dale Earnhardt Jr lost further ground in the Chase after an unscheduled green flag pit stop lost him a lap to the leaders late in the race. His team-mate Jeff Gordon spun at turn two on a restart after getting tapped by Kahne, while Mark Martin had a lengthy stoppage in the garage with mechanical issues.
Pos Driver Team Laps
1. Matt Kenseth Ford 334
2. Kyle Busch Toyota 334
3. Carl Edwards Ford 334
4. Kasey Kahne Toyota 334
5. Marcos Ambrose Ford 334
6. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 334
7. A.J.Allmendinger Ford 334
8. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 334
9. Denny Hamlin Toyota 334
10. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 334
11. David Ragan Ford 334
12. Joey Logano Toyota 334
13. Kurt Busch Dodge 334
14. J.P.Montoya Chevrolet 334
15. Greg Biffle Ford 334
16. Brad Keselowski Dodge 333
17. Paul Menard Chevrolet 333
18. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 333
19. D.Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 333
20. Brian Vickers Toyota 333
21. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 333
22. J.J. Yeley Ford 333
23. Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 332
24. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 332
25. Regan Smith Chevrolet 332
26. David Reutimann Toyota 332
27. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 332
28. Landon Cassill Chevrolet 332
29. Bobby Labonte Toyota 331
30. Mike Bliss Ford 331
31. Trevor Bayne Ford 329
32. Casey Mears Toyota 323
33. Hermie Sadler Ford 322
34. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 316
35. Dave Blaney Chevrolet 292
36. David Gilliland Ford 289
37. Mark Martin Chevrolet 287
38. Robby Gordon Dodge 33
39. Michael McDowell Toyota 30
40. Travis Kvapil Ford 27
41. David Stremme Chevrolet 22
42. Andy Lally Ford 20
43. Joe Nemechek Toyota 11