A fifth victory of the season at Dover International Speedway, moved Jimmie Johnson to second in the Sprint Cup standings and trimmed the margin between himself and championship leader Matt Kenseth to just eight.
Kenseth, who opened the Chase with consecutive wins, was running third late, but a decision to take two tires cost him several positions in the closing laps and he slid back to finish seventh. Kyle Busch placed two positions better than his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and trimmed two points off his deficit, though he was leapfrogged by Johnson and is now ranked third.
"We were about a fifth to seventh-place car much of the day and we ended up fifth," Busch said. Certainly, I wish we definitely could've gotten more. ... It's frustrating to be fifth, but yet you look at the grand scheme of things and it's three straight top-fives to start the Chase so not bad."
Slow pit stops and a car that wouldn't handle to his liking made it a struggle, but Kevin Harvick grinded out a sixth-place finish and jumped two spots in the standings to fourth. Completing the top-five is Jeff Gordon, who finished fourth and is actually tied with Harvick. He loses the tiebreak, however, because he's yet to post a victory this season.
Every driver who finished in the top-10 Sunday were drivers competing for the championship, with Jamie McMurray in 11th being the highest non-Chaser.
The driver who endured the biggest setback to his title hopes was Carl Edwards. Edwards suffered a mechanical failure in the latter stages that forced him into the garage for repairs. Consequently, he was 35th in the final rundown and plummeted from fourth to 11th, 65 points in arrears of Kenseth.
"We've really got to step it up now to have a chance," Edwards said. "We did not need to have that trouble, but there's a lot of racing left. We don't quit. We just have to keep moving."
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Standings
|10)||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||2092||-57||0|
|16)||Martin Truex Jr.||781||-1368||1|
|19)||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||727||-1422||0|