With only three points separating leader Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart heading into the Chase's finale at Homestead, both drivers needed only to beat the other to secure the Sprint Cup championship. In what amounted to a thrilling finish to the Chase, Stewart held off a gaining Edwards to win the Ford 400 and clinch the third Sprint Cup Series title of his career.
2 of 37Ross D. Franklin/AP
Kobalt Tools 500 -- Kasey Kahne
Kahne ended an 81-race victory drought, winning for the first time since Atlanta in 2009. Carl Edwards finished second, and Tony Stewart was third, but Stewart led the most laps to stay within three points of Edwards in the Chase with one race remaining in Homestead.
3 of 37Matt Pearce/Icon SMI
AAA Texas 500 -- Tony Stewart
Now it really is a title fight. Tony Stewart won his second race in a row Sunday and fourth of the Chase by taking the checkered flag at Texas Motor Speedway. With the victory, Stewart trails points leader Carl Edwards by just three points heading into Phoenix next week.
4 of 37AP
TUMS Fast Relief 500 -- Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart passed Jimmie Johnson on a restart with three laps to go to win at Martinsville for his first victory of the season. The first-place finish puts him just eight points behind Carl Edwards in the Chase for the Championship and called him out after Sunday's race, adding, "He better be worried. That's all I've got to say."
5 of 37Kevin Liles/US Presswire
Good Sam Club 500 -- Clint Bowyer
Following a caution, Bowyer pushed teammate Jeff Burton into the lead and then passed Burton on the final lap to squeak out a close win. It marked Richard Childress Racing's 100th Sprint Cup victory. Burton was thisclose to ending a 108-race winless streak. Neither Bowyer nor Burton are part of the Chase, so Carl Edwards, who finished 11th, actually extended his lead to 14 points.
6 of 37AP
Bank of America 500 -- Matt Kenseth
Matt Kenseth passed Kyle Busch, who led a majority of the race, with 25 laps to go to nab his third victory of the year and first win of the Chase season. With the win at Charlotte, Kenseth jumped from fifth to third in the Cup standings.
7 of 37Cal Sport Media
Hollywood Casino 400--Jimmie Johnson
Jimmie Johnson remained in contention for the Chase with one of the most dominant performances the Kansas Speedway has ever seen. The five-time defending Cup champion led for 197 of the race's 272 laps, briefly holding off Kasey Kahne in a green-white-checkered finish. The win put Johnson third in the points standings.
8 of 37Russ Hamilton Sr./AP
AAA 400 -- Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch further imperiled Jimmie Johnson's reign by outlasting the five-time champ down the stretch at the Monster Mile. Busch pulled away from Johnson after a late restart to win his second race of 2011. This was Busch's first career victory at Dover.
9 of 37AP/Jim Cole
Sylvania 300 -- Tony Stewart
A week after winning the Geico 400, Tony Stewart became only the second driver ever to open the Chase with consecutive victories by taking the checkered flag at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Thanks in part to conserving fuel, Stewart overtook Clint Bowyer with only two laps to go as Bowyer ran out of gas.
10 of 37Michael C. Dinovo/Asp Inc/Cal Sport Media
Geico 400 -- Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart snapped a 32-race losing streak by winning the opening race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. The victory at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., was Stewart's third straight top-10 finish but his first win since October 2010. It lifted him to second in the standings behind Kevin Harvick, who finished second at Chicagoland.
11 of 37Clem Britt/AP
Wonderful Pistachios 400 -- Kevin Harvick
Kevin Harvick snapped out of his slump in time to storm into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Harvick picked up his fourth win of the season by winning at Richmond International Raceway. The victory ties Kyle Busch for most in the Sprint Cup Series, and puts the two rivals at the top of the Chase standings. The 10-race Chase begins next Sunday at Chicago.
12 of 37Kevin Liles-US PRESSWIRE
AdvoCare 500 -- Jeff Gordon
Gordon outdueled teammate Jimmie Johnson to earn his 85th career victory and claim sole possession of third-place on NASCAR's all-time wins list. It was his third win of the season and his fifth at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
13 of 37Kevin Liles/US PRESSWIRE
Irwin Tools Night Race -- Brad Keselowski
Keselowski continued his hot streak with his third win of the season and his fifth straight top-10 finish as he claimed the Bristol night race. Keselowski held off Martin Truex Jr. and Jeff Gordon to strengthen his bid for his first Chase berth, moving up to 11th in the driver standings.
14 of 37Bob Brodbeck/AP
Pure Michigan 400 -- Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch has won his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the year, outlasting Jimmie Johnson in a green-white-checkered finish at Michigan International Speedway. Brad Keselowski finished third, his third consecutive top-three finish and fifth top-10 in his last six races. It was the 23rd Sprint Cup win of Busch's career -- and first at Michigan.
15 of 37ASP/Cal Sport Media
Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen -- Marcos Ambrose
Road course expert Marcos Ambrose became the fifth first-time winner in 2011 when he outlasted the field at a rain-delayed race at Watkins Glen.
16 of 37Matt Slocum/AP
Good Sam RV Insurance 500 -- Brad Keselowski
Four days after breaking his ankle in a testing session, Brad Keselowski held off Kyle Busch to win at Pocono. His second victory of the season, and the third of his career, put Keselowski in line for a Chase wild-card berth.
17 of 37Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
Brickyard 400 -- Paul Menard
Paul Menard became the fourth first-time winner of 2011, holding off Jeff Gordon to win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The win moved Menard, who is in his first year with Richard Childress Racing, up to 14th in the points and put him in contention for a wild-card Chase berth.
18 of 37Cheryl Senter/AP
Lenox Industrial Tools 301 -- Ryan Newman
Ryan Newman led a 1-2 finish for Stewart-Haas Racing, beating car owner and teammate Tony Stewart across the line. It was Newman's third victory at Loudon and his second since he joined Stewart-Haas in 2009.
19 of 37Kevin Liles/US Presswire
Kentucky 400 -- Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch held off David Reutimann and Jimmie Johnson after a late restart to win the inaugural Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway and nab his third Cup victory of the year.
20 of 37Terry Renna/AP
Coke Zero 400 -- David Ragan
David Ragan earned the first Sprint Cup victory of his career Saturday night with a push from teammate Matt Kenseth that helped Ragan atone for one of the biggest gaffe's of his young career. He might have won the Daytona 500 when he lined up as the leader on a late restart. But he was penalized for passing too early, and the life-changing victory instead went to Trevor Bayne. Now he has a win of his own at Daytona International Speedway
21 of 37Eric Risberg/AP
Sonoma 350 -- Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch won the first road course race of his career with a dominating performance at Infineon. Busch led a race-high 75 laps and beat Jeff Gordon by almost four seconds for his first victory of the season. Carl Edwards finished third, followed by Clint Bowyer and Marcos Ambrose. The race featured several on-track flare-ups, most notably Brian Vickers' payback spin of Tony Stewart.
22 of 37Andrew Weber/U.S. PRESSWIRE
Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 -- Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin raced to his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory over the year, holding off Matt Kenseth at Michigan International Speedway. The drivers appeared headed for a fuel-mileage finish, then a late caution enabled them to make pit stops before a frantic closing five-lap sprint.
23 of 37ASP/Cal Sport Media
Pocono 500 -- Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon moved into a tie for third on NASCAR's Sprint Cup career victories list, winning for the 84th time when he took the checkered flag at the Tricky Triangle. His victories tie him with Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for most in Cup history, and he tied Bill Elliott with five wins on the 21/2-mile track.
24 of 37Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images Sport
STP 400 -- Brad Keselowski
Brad Keselowski stretched his tank perfectly to win at the Kansas Speedway -- and extend Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s winless streak to 106 races. Keselowski led the final nine laps for his second Sprint Cup victory in 66 races, and the first for Penske Racing since Kurt Busch last year in the Coca-Cola 600. Keselowski also had a surprise 2009 victory at Talladega in only his fifth career Cup start. Junior finished second.
25 of 37Jason Smith/Getty Images
Coca-Cola 600 -- Kevin Harvick
With Dale Earnhardt Jr. running out of gas with just a half-lap remaining, Kevin Harvick cruised to victory at the Coca-Cola 600. In NASCAR's longest race of the season, Harvick passed Junior on the final lap, giving him the win and extending Earnhardt Jr.'s winless streak to 105.
26 of 37Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR
All-Star Race -- Carl Edwards
Edwards took all the drama out of the dash for the cash, winning three out of four segments and beating Kyle Busch to the finish line. It marked the first All-Star Race victory for Edwards, who celebrated not only with his patented back flip, but also with a sprint into the stands.
27 of 37Todd Warshaw/Getty Images Sport
FedEx 400 at Dover -- Matt Kenseth
Matt Kenseth called for two tires instead of four on the final pit stop of the race and that was the strategy he needed to win the Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway. Kenseth led the final 32 laps to win for the second time this season. He also won at Texas and became the third driver to win twice this season.
28 of 37Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington -- Regan Smith
Smith held off Carl Edwards on two restarts to win a green-white-checkered finish at Darlington, giving him his first career Sprint Cup victory. The 2008 Rookie of the Year is the sixth driver to score his first win at the track "Too Tough to Tame" and the first since Lake Speed in 1988.
29 of 37Sam Sharpe/US Presswire
Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400 at Richmond -- Kyle Busch
Busch denied teammate Denny Hamlin's bid for a weekend sweep at Richmond, barely. Busch went the final 107 laps on one tank of fuel (running out in celebration). Hamlin finished second. It's Busch's third straight spring victory in Richmond, the second of the season and the 21st of his Sprint Cup career.
30 of 37Jason Smith/Getty Images
Aaron's 499 at Talladega -- Jimmie Johnson
The five-time defending series champ stole his first win of the season by a whisker. Johnson edged Clint Bowyer by .002 seconds to match the closest finish in NASCAR history. Dale Earnhardt Jr. pushed Johnson from fifth to first over the furious final lap.
31 of 37Sam Sharpe/US PRESSWIRE
Samsung Mobile 500 -- Matt Kenseth
Matt Kenseth scored his first victory in 77 races, cruising to a victory at Texas Speedway. Kenseth, who hadn't won a Sprint Cup event since February 2009, became the sixth winner in seven Sprint races this season.
32 of 37Jerry Markland/Getty Images
Goody's Fast Relief 500 -- Kevin Harvick
Biding his time while Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. took turns leading at the half-mile oval track (0.562, to be exact), Harvick stormed ahead with four laps left for his second straight out-of-nowhere victory in Sprint Cup racing. Harvick's victory is also a boon to Richard Childress Racing, which hasn't won at Martinsville since 1995.
33 of 37Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images Sport
Auto Club 400 at Fontana -- Kevin Harvick
Kevin Harvick isn't one of those drivers who jumps out front and stays there all the way to the checkers. More of a lingerer and closer, Harvick was at his pass-at-the-end best, overtaking California king Jimmie Johnson on the final turn at Auto Club Speedway to win after trailing the entire race.
34 of 37John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR
Jeff Byrd 500 at Bristol -- Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch can't be beat at Bristol Motor Speedway. Busch won the Sprint Cup on Sunday to complete a weekend sweep at the Tennessee bullring. He also won the second-tier Nationwide Series race on Saturday, and has won the last five races at Bristol dating back to a three-race sweep last August. It was Busch's fifth career Cup victory at Bristol - tying him with his older brother, Kurt, who also has five Bristol victories.
35 of 37Josh Holmberg /Icon SMI
Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas -- Carl Edwards
A mistake in the pits by Tony Stewart's crew gave Carl Edwards the chance he needed to put the frustration of the first two Sprint Cup Series races of the season behind him. Capitalizing on a penalty to Stewart, who dragged an air wrench from his stall under caution on Lap 155, Edwards powered his No. 99 Ford across the finish line 1.246 seconds ahead of Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet.
36 of 37Getty Images for NASCAR
Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix-- Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon didn't just drive to end hunger -- he drove to end a famine. With a convincing victory in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, where he beat runner-up Kyle Busch to the checkered flag by 1.137 seconds, Gordon ended a 66-race winless streak dating to April 2009 at Texas. The win was Gordon's second at the 1-mile flat track and the 83rd of his career, tying him with Cale Yarborough for fifth on the Cup Series victory list.
37 of 37US PRESSWIRE
Daytona 500 -- Trevor Bayne
The planets aligned. Heck, the heavens stood still. And Trevor Bayne, who just turned 20, recaptured the magic of David Pearson in the Wood Brothers throwback No. 21 Ford, winning the 53rd running of the Daytona 500.
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