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Stewart revives title bid with victory

Tony Stewart wins at FontanaTony Stewart fended off Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer in a sprint to the finish at Fontana, claiming his second win of the season and charging back in the NASCAR Chase standings.

The two-time Sprint Cup champion, who ran as a contender among the top five for most of the event, made an impressive restart following the penultimate caution period, claiming the lead from fourth in the order after the green flag waved with 12 laps remaining.

An incident between David Ragan and title contender Kurt Busch with seven laps to go set up a short sprint to the chequered flag in the final two laps, where five-time Fontana winner Jimmie Johnson looked a serious threat.

Stewart was quick off the line at the green flag and was able to clear Johnson before Turn 1, leaving the champion to battle it out for second with Richard Childress Racing's Clint Bowyer on the final lap.

The Stewart-Haas owner/driver went on to claim his first career victory at Fontana, one of three venues where he had still to win for the first time, while behind him Bowyer managed to beat Johnson for second at the reigning champion's hometrack.

The win for Stewart means he has jumped up five spots in the Chase for the championship, and is now placed fifth - 107 points behind Johnson.

"I just knew the [final] restart was going to be critical and if I could get through [Turns] 1 and 2 and still have the lead off [Turn] 2, then I would have a shot at it," said Stewart, whose victory helped secure Chevrolet's eighth consecutive manufacturers' title.

"We got a good restart picking the top there. Good thing Clint Bowyer was there to keep Jimmie honest and keep him busy and that just let us do our own thing on the last lap and run our lines."

Bowyer was happy to bounce back from a few difficult weeks following his penalties after his win in the Chase opener at Loudon. However he was unhappy to see the penultimate caution come out while he was comfortably in the lead, alleging that the debris that caused it had already been on the track for a while before officials decided to show the yellow flags.

"After the last two weeks we had, I'm frustrated." said Bowyer. "I want to redeem myself. We're a race-winning team and we need to go out and prove that that last one wasn't a hoax. That mystery caution came out. That piece of debris was out there the whole run. It's a shame, but I guess it made a better race out of it."

Johnson's third-place finish did not make the Hendrick Motorsports happy even though he now holds a healthier lead in the Chase standings over Denny Hamlin. He led the race three times and for 22 laps, but felt the final caution hurt his chances of beating Stewart as he had to contend with a charging Bowyer.

"I think if it had stayed green at the end, we had a shot to get the #14 [Stewart]," said Johnson. "But it didn't turn out that way, there was a caution at the end with that wreck. Starting on the inside was kind of a problem for me. I just didn't get going like I needed to. The #33 [Bowyer] got there."

Richard Petty's Kasey Kahne and Stewart's team-mate Ryan Newman rounded out the top five, while Mark Martin led the most laps but was sixth in the end, claiming his first top-10 result for the past nine weeks. Delays in the pits hampered his prospects of victory and the short green-flag runs in the closing stages did not help his chances either.

Kevin Harvick recovered from a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pits and finished seventh ahead of Hamlin, while Jeff Gordon similarly bounced back from a penalty to finish ninth, making the most of two new tyres he got when he pitted during the final caution. David Reutimann rounded out the top 10 for Michael Waltrip Racing.

The race proved a nightmare for Roush Fenway Racing as all the team's cars hit trouble. First it was Kansas winner Greg Biffle suffering an engine failure, then Carl Edwards stopped on the track with electrical glitches, while a tyre rubbing on a fender of Matt Kenseth's car in the final sprint put him way down in the order.

Kyle Busch suffered yet another blow to his title hopes after the engine on his car expired with 45 laps remaining and while running in the top 10.

Pos  Driver              Car        Laps
 1.  Tony Stewart        Chevrolet  200
 2.  Clint Bowyer        Chevrolet  200
 3.  Jimmie Johnson      Chevrolet  200
 4.  Kasey Kahne         Ford       200
 5.  Ryan Newman         Chevrolet  200
 6.  Mark Martin         Chevrolet  200
 7.  Kevin Harvick       Chevrolet  200
 8.  Denny Hamlin        Toyota     200
 9.  Jeff Gordon         Chevrolet  200
10.  David Reutimann     Toyota     200
11.  Joey Logano         Toyota     200
12.  Regan Smith         Chevrolet  200
13.  Elliott Sadler      Ford       200
14.  Juan Pablo Montoya  Chevrolet  200
15.  Sam Hornish Jr      Dodge      200
16.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Chevrolet  200
17.  Jamie McMurray      Chevrolet  200
18.  Martin Truex Jr     Toyota     200
19.  AJ Allmendinger     Ford       200
20.  David Gilliland     Ford       200
21.  Kurt Busch          Dodge      200
22.  Paul Menard         Ford       200
23.  Jeff Burton         Chevrolet  200
24.  Scott Speed         Toyota     200
25.  Casey Mears         Toyota     200
26.  Brad Keselowski     Dodge      200
27.  Reed Sorenson       Toyota     200
28.  Travis Kvapil       Ford       200
29.  Dave Blaney         Ford       200
30.  Matt Kenseth        Ford       200
31.  Kevin Conway        Toyota     197
32.  David Ragan         Ford       193
33.  Marcos Ambrose      Toyota     193
34.  Carl Edwards        Ford       187
35.  Kyle Busch          Toyota     155
36.  Andy Lally          Chevrolet  76
37.  Joe Nemechek        Toyota     69
38.  Bobby Labonte       Chevrolet  56
39.  Michael McDowell    Chevrolet  55
40.  Landon Cassill      Toyota     43
41.  Greg Biffle         Ford       40
42.  JJ Yeley            Chevrolet  33
43.  Jason Leffler       Toyota     23
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