Martin Truex Jr finally scored his second NASCAR Sprint Cup win at Sonoma after a six-year victory drought.
The Michael Waltrip Toyota driver was untouchable in the final stages of the race, with his winning margin blooming to eight seconds when second-placed Juan Pablo Montoya ran out of fuel on the final lap.
Truex first hit the front when those drivers who had pitted early in a race that could be three or two stops cycled to the front.
Whenever he was in clear air, Truex was able to storm away from the field.
A run of mid-race yellows allowed strategies to converge and everyone to two-stop, with Truex back up front by what proved to be the final restart.
He then blasted clear, saving enough fuel to reach the finish at a smooth pace and having to simply pray that there would not be a yellow to make him vulnerable to those with fresher tyres and less fuel anxiety.
Best of those was Jeff Gordon, who used four new tyres to slice through the field from 18th to third before Montoya ran out of fuel on the final lap and handed him second.
Gordon had earlier been given a penalty for pitting in a closed pit moments after a yellow had been called.
His recovery drive was not as impressive as Kurt Busch's. An early leader, he picked up a pitlane speeding penalty, then another one when he served his punishment.
That left him a lapped 38th, from where he incredibly recovered to fourth, behind Carl Edwards.
Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne took fifth and sixth, ahead of another early leader in the shape of Marcos Ambrose, whose handling faded mid-race.
Poleman Jamie McMurray was only 25th after a late puncture, while his Earnhardt Ganassi team-mate Montoya crawled past the flag in 34th.
During his early charge from 13th on the grid to the front, Montoya had shoved Kyle Busch into a spin. Busch had another hit from Edwards later, and also went off by himself, leaving him 35th.
Other incidents included a collision between top-10 runners Tony Stewart and Jeff Burton late on.
1997 Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve was an early retirement with gearbox issues on his Cup return with Phoenix.
Results - 110 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 2h51m20.000s 2. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet +8.133s 3. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford +9.029s 4. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet +13.216s 5. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota +15.267s 6. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet +15.819s 7. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford +18.298s 8. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford +23.595s 9. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet +24.644s 10. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet +25.531s 11. Joey Logano Penske Ford +26.069s 12. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet +26.417s 13. Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota +27.260s 14. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet +28.681s 15. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +29.830s 16. Casey Mears Germain Ford +30.099s 17. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota +32.352s 18. Boris Said FAS Lane Ford +33.923s 19. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford +35.856s 20. Aric Almirola Petty Ford +37.059s 21. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford +37.748s 22. Ron Fellows Circle Sport Chevrolet +37.982s 23. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota +38.512s 24. David Gilliland Front Row Ford +38.824s 25. Jamie McMurray Earnhard Ganassi Chevrolet +43.783s 26. David Reutimann BK Toyota +45.539s 27. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford +46.336s 28. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +51.951s 29. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +58.872s 30. Justin Marks Baldwin Chevrolet +59.499s 31. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet +1m11.859s 32. Josh Wise Front Row Ford +1m16.899s 33. David Ragan Front Row Ford +1m17.776s 34. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhard Ganassi Chevrolet +1m34.411s 35. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota +1 lap 36. David Stremme Swan Toyota +1 lap 37. Victor Gonzalez Jr Baldwin Chevrolet +1 lap 38. Tomy Drissi NEMCO Toyota +2 laps Retirements: Paulie Harraka Go Green Ford 89 laps Alex Kennedy Humphrey Smith Toyota 30 laps Jacques Villeneuve Phoenix Chevrolet 19 laps JJ Yeley Max Q Ford 7 laps Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 0 laps