After Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team lost an engine, Jimmie Johnson‘s team was nervous about their engine. They checked it out before the race, which meant they had to start at the back of the pack. Because they were starting in the back, they decided to hang back. But shortly after the drop of the green flag, something was wrong. Johnson lost the draft and lost a lap early. A caution on lap 45 got Johnson back on the lead lap. On lap 53, David Reutimann blew a tire, and a piece of it his Johnson’s nose, breaking his splitter. After some repairs, Johnson hung towards the back of the pack. The strategy paid off, as he missed the two big ones. He finished ninth.
Carl Edwards started the race opting for a similar strategy as Johnson, hanging towards the back of the pack. He used some interesting pit strategy, staying out when the leaders pitted to avoid trouble on pit road. Ironically enough, when Edwards did pit with the leaders, he left his pit stall a little too hot and spun out. For much of the race, Edwards drove around the back, barely earning a mention on TV. He was doing exactly what he said, staying out of trouble. On lap 174, Carl Edwards was pushing Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle to the front. As they entered the corner, Edwards was bumping Biffle. Biffle got a little bit loose, and Edwards bumped him again, turning him into teammate Matt Kenseth. Biffle then slid back up the track into Edwards and Earnhardt Jr. Several other cars were collected including Chasers Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.Edwards finished 29th.
Greg Biffle started the day quietly, staying the middle-to-the-back of the pack, keeping himself out of touble. Towards the later stages of the race, Biffle start running towards the front, and showed that he had a car capable of running up front. In the closing laps, Biffle made his move to the front with Edwards pushing him. As Biffle entered the corner, Edwards was bumping him into the lead. As the two got into the middle of corner, Edwards bumped him and sent him spinning into Kenseth, and back up in Edwards and Earnhardt Jr., effectively ending his day. He finished 24th.
Jeff Burton had a realatively quiet day, running in the back, in the middle and up front. He went virtually unnoticed, though he did lead some laps, until the closing laps. He started the green-white-checker in fifth place. He managed to break Aric Almirola from his Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammates Regan Smith and Paul Menard. However, he could not mount a charge in the closing laps, and he wound up finishing fifth.
Clint Bowyer had a quiet day, much like his teammate Burton. He ran in the middle of the pack, and never led. He did manage to stay out of trouble and turned a mediocre day into a repectable sixth place finish.
Kevin Harvick had a decent car. He too led some laps, like his teammate Burton. He was working from the back of the pack to the front, to the back and to the front again. His day was pretty up and down, as can be expected at ‘Dega for anyone. Then, on lap 164, Harvick made slight contact with someone and spun into the infield grass. He didn’t hit anything and was able to keep going. But, 10 laps later, he was caught up in the melee that was created when Edwards and Biffle got together.
Tony Stewart started the day hanging in the middle to the back of the pack. Then, as the race got closer to half way, Stewart started flexing some muscle and was running up front. At lap 80 he took the lead for the first time. He would hover around the front, waiting to put himself in position to win in the closing laps. A caution brought out by Jamie McMurray on lap 184 sent the race into overtime. Stewart led at the green-white-checker. He had Dale Earnhard Inc.’s Regan Smith, Paul Menard, and Aric Almirola behind him. Those cars were strong and Stewart seemed like a sitting duck. When the green flag flew, the cars stayed single file. Stewart took the white flag, with Smith and Menard behind him, Almirola got shuffled back. On the final turn of the last lap, Smith look outside. Stewart blocked. Smith looked inside, Stewart drove all the way down to the yellow line. Smith drove below the yellow line under him, and passed him to take the checkered flag. But, because the move was deemed illegal, Stewart was declared the winner.
Jeff Gordon had a decent car, moving from the front to the back to the front again. On lap 53, David Reutimann blew a tire. Gordon swerved to avoid him and made contact with Jon Wood, and turned into the outside wall, ending his chances at a win. His team fixed his car and got him back on the track to turn some laps. On lap 183, his engine expired. He finished 38th.
Matt Kenseth drove an unevenful first half of the race. He ran near the front, but was relatively quiet. He lead early, a couple of times. But, his day ended early when Edwards and Biffle made contact, on lap 174. Biffle slid down the track into Kenseth. Kenseth slid up into Earnhardt Jr. and Edwards and hit the outside wall. Then Jr’s pushed Kenseth across the track to the infield where both cars came to rest. He finished 26th.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. started in the back after having to go to a backup car due to engine problems and a blown tire. He hung towards the back for a few laps at the start of the race, but flexed his muscle early, leading early and often in the race. He proved that he had one of the cars to beat, pushing people to the front and then passing them as if they were standing still. He narrowly avoided trouble on lap 68, when Brian Vickerss blew a tire and took out Martin Truex Jr. who was running second at the time. But, on lap 174, Jr. wasn’t so lucky when he chose to move to the outside lane shortly before Edwards and Biffle got together and he was collected in the aftermath. He finished 28th.
Kyle Busch managed to avoid major trouble that plagued him early in the Chase. He ran in the middle of the pack, sometimes moving up into the lead, then being shuffled back in the pack. He sustained some damage in the Edwards-Biffle melee, but still managed a positve finish compared to other Chasers. He finished 15th.
Denny Hamlin had a strong car early, pushing people to the lead and leading himself. But around lap 97, he reported a votage problem and the team was concerned the car wouldn’t start on pit road. But, that wouldn’t matter because one lap later, his right front tire exploded, sending him into the outside wall hard. After getting out of the car, he was put on a stretched and taken to the care center for evaluation. He was awake and alert and was transported to a local hospital. Reports are that he sustained an ankle injury. He finished 39th.