Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway 12 drivers were beginning their title runs but 31 other drivers were looking to play spoiler and upstage the Chasers.
Brad Keselowski started that off by winning the pole over Clint Bowyer who many picked to win the race.
In fact Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick all qualified 22nd or worse for the race.
Tony Stewart wanted the lead and didn’t take long to get to the front after starting third by lap two he was leading. Stewart pulled away from the field as Johnson, Hamlin and Harvick were taking three wide early.
The race settled down with Stewart leading the charge early.
Caution waved on lap 24 for Scott Speed who had contact with Bobby Labonte hit the front stretch inside wall.
The leaders hit pit road but majority took two tires. Leader Stewart took four and found himself back in 18th on the restart.
On the restart Bowyer took the lead with Jamie McMurray in second. Johnson who took two tires found himself in the top 10.
On lap 40, Paul Menard and Marcos Ambrose made contact and both spun around. A few cars came to pit including Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne.
Clint Bowyer would lead them on the restart.
Running in the top 10 was pole sitter Keselowski. He was doing a good job just running laps and running around veterans.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who took two tires to gain track position on lap 25. He cracked the top 10 by lap 70 and was looking good early.
The race took on a normal long green flag run that saw drivers making passes on the track.
Green flag stops began and Bowyer who has led over 60 laps would stop under green as the leader and come out the leader.
Earnhardt who was well in the top 10 and pitted with teammate Johnson came out in 14th.
The biggest loser of that round of stops was AJ Allmendinger. He ran out of fuel coming to pit road and ended up going a lap down.
The long green flag run saw Bowyer lapping the field and only 20 cars on the lead lap.
Caution waved on lap 146 for debris and Bowyer’s seven second lead was gone. The leaders hit pit road and Bowyer maintained his lead.
On the restart Johnson was the biggest loser he dropped from third to eighth.
Allmendinger who got the lucky dog on that caution would run around 18th during this next run. It was a disappointing second half of the race for a guy who looked to score a top 10 finish.
With 94 laps to go Mark Martin cut a tire and brought out the caution. This would set up the green flag stops.
Bowyer would keep his lead but Stewart would restart right next to him. Jamie McMurray was too fast entering pit road and would have to go to tail end of the lead lap. McMurray was running in second as the caution waved.
Caution waved on lap 86, when Carl Edwards made contact with Hamlin for third. Hamlin spun in front of the field but didn’t get hit.
On the restart it was Stewart leading Bowyer with Jeff Burton, Gordon and Busch.
With 78 laps to go Burton and Busch were battling for fourth when Busch got pinched and spun, once again in front of the field.
Now it was decision time for the crew chiefs and whether or not to pit. Hamlin who brought out the caution prior could have made it to the end.
Most everyone behind Gordon pitted for either tires or fuel.
With 67 laps to go Keselowski made contact with Matt Kenseth. Kenseth spun into the wall and caused damage to the back of his car.
Kenseth who struggled all day long was in 23rd position and barely on the lead lap.
Joey Logano spun mid pack right around many of the Chasers. Logano was heading to the garage and once again the top three who would be short on fuel, stayed out.
On the restart, Stewart didn’t waste time and took the lead back from McMurray. Johnson who was in the middle of the last couple cautions had to hit pit road under green. He felt a chatter in one of his tires, they hit pit road changed all four tires.
Fuel was still a question for Stewart, Burton and Bowyer. Everyone else could make it to the finish.
A few drivers were having solid runs like Sam Hornish, Jr. and Earnhardt. Both were solid cars all day long.
Hamlin who was involved in one of the cautions had been as deep as 23rd but worked his way through the field and to the top five as the laps were winding down.
As they came to the white flag Burton ran out of fuel and then Stewart who was leading ran of fuel. Bowyer who pitted on the same lap won the race with just enough fuel for a burnout.
The rest of the top 10 were Hamlin, McMurray, Burton, Earnhardt, Harvick, Gordon, Reutimann, Busch and Hornish.
Some notable finishes were Stewart finished 24th, Burton finished 15th, Greg Biffle in 17th, Kasey Kahne was 14th and pole sitter Keselowski ended up 18th.
The championship standings biggest loser after NHMS was Johnson and Stewart who both lost five positions and fell to seventh in the standings.
The biggest gainer was Bowyer who gained nine spots. The leader heading to Dover is still Hamlin by 40 points over Bowyer.
Next week they head to Dover International Speedway on Sunday, 1 ET on ESPN.