Tony Stewart got his championship challenge back on track with his fourth win of the season at Kansas Speedway. The two-time Sprint Cup champion gambled on taking two new tires on his final pit stop under caution, while most of his rivals went for a full set. Despite the grip handicap and a late charge from Jeff Gordon, Stewart was able to make the most of the clean air to win his first race of the Chase.
Earlier in the race, Stewart had already benefited from a two-tire change, putting his strategy to the test during the fifth caution of the day. He repeated the move on the decisive final stop, jumping leader Greg Biffle in the pits despite the Roush Fenway driver also choosing to change only right-side tires.
Stewart's victory has allowed him to close to within 67 points of Mark Martin, who despite his seventh-place finish was able to retain the Chase lead.
Gordon was the biggest mover following the last restart, after taking four new tires on his final stop. From fifth place with 29 laps to go, he moved up all the way to second behind Stewart in the closing laps, but he ran out of time to threaten his lead.
Biffle led the most laps and finished third since he jumped up front during the third caution of the day. He almost went a lap down later as he had pitted right before Brian Vickers spun at the exit of Turn 4 to bring out the caution again. However, as all the leaders dived into the pits he stayed out to reclaim the lead of the race.
Despite running a similar strategy to Stewart in the end, Biffle was unable to run as good as the eventual winner on the final stint, coming under pressure from Juan Pablo Montoya on the closing laps in the fight for third place.
The Colombian had another solid day and continued to prove himself a genuine championship contender with his third consecutive top-5 finish in the Chase. He ran an aggressive race and recovered in the final stint after struggling for balance before his final four-tire stop.
The Earnhardt Ganassi driver was able to make up ground to both Martin and Jimmie Johnson in the title race, closing to within 51 points of Martin's lead in the points.
Denny Hamlin finished fifth ahead of Kasey Kahne and Chase leader Martin, who had started from pole position. The veteran ran consistently in the top ten without the speed to contend for victory, yet despite that still increased the gap to Johnson by 8 points.
The reigning champion had looked to be the driver to beat ahead of the race, and he later confirmed that by taking the lead on lap 62 for the first time. He went on to remain ahead for a number of laps but got shuffled down the order due to his tire strategy and struggled to recover.
On the final pit stop, Johnson changed two tires hoping to gain track position – and he eventually did, moving from sixth to third. However, his tire strategy didn't pay off and he slid down to ninth place in the end.
Carl Edwards recovered from being a lap down after being penalized for speeding in the pits to finish 10th, while early leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. was unable to recover from a penalty for a missing lug nut on his first stop, which dropped him a lap down.
Brad Keselowski impressed on his penultimate outing for Hendrick Motorsports, running consistently in the top-five until an untimely caution dropped him down the order in the second half of the race.
Pos Driver Make Laps
1. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 267
2. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 267
3. Greg Biffle Ford 267
4. Juan Montoya Chevrolet 267
5. Denny Hamlin Toyota 267
6. Kasey Kahne Dodge 267
7. Mark Martin Chevrolet 267
8. David Reutimann Toyota 267
9. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 267
10. Carl Edwards Ford 267
11. Kurt Busch Dodge 267
12. Kyle Busch Toyota 267
13. Brad Keselowski Chevrolet 267
14. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 267
15. Casey Mears Chevrolet 267
16. Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 267
17. AJ Allmendinger Dodge 267
18. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 267
19. Bill Elliott Ford 266
20. Elliott Sadler Dodge 266
21. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 266
22. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 266
23. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 266
24. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 266
25. David Stremme Dodge 266
26. Reed Sorenson Dodge 266
27. Scott Speed Toyota 266
28. Joey Logano Toyota 266
29. Erik Darnell Ford 265
30. Paul Menard Ford 265
31. Jamie McMurray Ford 264
32. Max Papis Toyota 263
33. John Andretti Chevrolet 263
34. Robby Gordon Toyota 263
35. David Ragan Ford 256
36. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 232
37. Brian Vickers Toyota 208
38. Michael Waltrip Toyota 141
39. Matt Kenseth Ford 134
40. Dave Blaney Toyota 28
41. Mike Bliss Dodge 26
42. Joe Nemechek Toyota 25
43. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 6