Jamie McMurray took his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory in three years as he led the final 16 laps in a tense finish at Talladega.
The Earnhardt Ganassi driver hung back for much of a race in which championship rivals Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson and the latter's Hendrick teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. did most of the leading.
McMurray did not hit the front until lap 172 of 188, easing forward with drafting help from Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Earnhardt and Austin Dillon – driving for Stewart-Haas this weekend – lined up behind McMurray and seemed poised for a last-lap attack. But before they could make a move, Dillon spun in front of fourth-placed Stenhouse.
Dillon's car slid backward into the pack but was missed by everyone bar Casey Mears, whose Germain Ford sent the Stewart-Haas Chevrolet flying into the air as they made contact. Both were unhurt. That brought out an immediate yellow and stymied Earnhardt's hopes, allowing McMurray to win by a second.
Stenhouse took third ahead of Paul Menard. Kyle Busch recovered from going a lap down early on when he missed his stall in a crowded pitlane then picked up a pit speeding penalty to take fifth.
Front Row could not repeat its shock Talladega 1-2 from May, but did get sixth and seventh with David Ragan and David Gilliland.
Johnson lost out in the final shuffles and could only manage 13th as the leaders stayed single file and refused to form the usual drafting pack, while Kenseth's handling went off in the second half of the race and he slumped to 20th. That means Johnson now leads the championship by four points with four rounds to go.
Prior to the last-lap tangle, the only other crash came when Marcos Ambrose spun into the path of Juan Pablo Montoya.
Results - 188 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 2h47m49.000s
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet +1.103s
3. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford +2.161s
4. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet +2.166s
5. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota +2.169s
6. David Ragan Front Row Ford +3.022s
7. David Gilliland Front Row Ford +3.670s
8. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota +4.867s
9. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +5.128s
10. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota +5.237s
11. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford +5.287s
12. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet +5.859s
13. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet +6.283s
14. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet +6.338s
15. Michael McDowell Parsons Ford +6.647s
16. Joey Logano Penske Ford +6.854s
17. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford +6.971s
18. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet +7.195s
19. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota +7.457s
20. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford +8.315s
21. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet +10.299s
22. Aric Almirola Petty Ford +10.604s
23. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford +38.299s
24. Justin Allgaier Phoenix Chevrolet +38.485s
25. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet +1m04.283s
26. Austin Dillon Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +1 lap*
27. Casey Mears Germain Ford +1 lap*
28. JJ Yeley Baldwin Chevrolet +1 lap
29. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford +1 lap
30. Josh Wise Front Row Ford +1 lap
31. Cole Whitt Swan Toyota +1 lap
32. Michael Waltrip Waltrip Toyota +1 lap
33. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +1 lap
34. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota +1 lap
35. Terry Labonte FAS Lane Ford +1 lap
36. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet +2 laps
37. Landon Cassill Circle Sport Chevrolet +5 laps
* Not running at chequered flag
Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota 142 laps
Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 134 laps**
David Reutimann BK Toyota 119 laps
Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 78 laps
Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 60 laps
Tony Raines Hillman Chevrolet 2 laps
** Running again at chequered flag