BRISTOL, Tenn. Jimmie Johnson may lead the points but Matt Kenseth would lead the way if the Chase were underway.
Kenseth dominated the second half of the race and held off Kasey Kahne to win Saturday nights Irwin Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The win is Kenseths fifth Sprint Cup Series victory of the season the most of any driver.
"That was a good battle," Kenseth said. "I know Kasey wanted it bad. We raced as hard as we can race; used every bit of race track. We won the Bristol night race - that's pretty awesome. "I hope we're back. We led a lot of laps early in the year, but the last month and a half hasn't seen so great."
Since the Chase for the Cup is seeded by race wins, Kenseth would be seeded first, which starts in two weeks. Series points leader Jimmie Johnson is second with four wins this season.
"We were fast. I just didn't get it done," Kahne said. "I didn't win. I had the best car. I feel bad I didn't win. We needed this. It would have been big for us. We got second and it's still a good points day."
Juan Pablo Montoya finished third, Brian Vickers was fourth and Joey Logano fifth.
Pole-winner Denny Hamlin led the way early in the race before giving up the lead to Kurt Busch on Lap 23.
Ryan Truex, who was making his Cup series debut, wrecked on Lap 41 to bring out the first caution. During pit stops, Brad Keselowski and David Reutimann ran into each other on pit road. On the restart on Lap 48, Kurt Busch continued to lead the way.
Carl Edwards moved into the lead on Lap 77.
Josh Wise and Kurt Busch wrecked on Lap 90 to bring out the second caution of the race. On the restart on Lap 98, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the lead.
Debris in Turn 4 brought out a caution on Lap 108. Earnhardt continued to lead on the restart on Lap 113.
While leading the race, Clint Bowyer was hit from behind by Travis Kvapil, a lapped car. After he spun, Bowyer was also hit by Bobby Labonte. On the restart on Lap 185, Edwards took over the lead, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jeff Gordon.
Tony Raines wrecked on Lap 202 to bring out the fifth caution of the race. Edwards continued to lead on the restart on Lap 209 followed by Hamlin and Kenseth.
Kenseth got around Edwards to take over the lead on Lap 236.
Debris on the backstretch brought out the sixth caution of the race on Lap 258. During a round of pit stops, both Kenseth and Kurt Busch were penalized for speeding on pit road. On the restart on Lap 266, Paul Menard took the lead followed by Kyle Busch, Montoya, Earnhardt and Hamlin.
Labonte and David Gilliland wrecked on Lap 334 to bring out the seventh caution of the race. During a round of pit stops, Montoya was penalized for speeding on pit road. Kevin Harvick took over the race lead on the restart on Lap 343 followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Edwards.
Several cars got collected in a wreck off Turn 4 on Lap 359, including Johnson and Reutimann. On the restart on Lap 368, Edwards continued to lead followed by Truex and Gordon.
On Lap 375, Montoya moved into David Stremme who hit Jeff Burton, sending Burton spinning and bringing out a caution. During the caution, Harvick reported problems with his shifter and Edwards complained of a possible electrical problem. On the restart on Lap 380, Kenseth was in the race lead.
On Lap 389, Edwards pulled into the garage with engine problems.
With 70 laps remaining, Kenseth continued to lead followed by Gordon, Kahne, Earnhardt and Bowyer.
Brian Vickers got into Hamlin on Lap 451 to start an accident which collected eight cars and brought out a red flag to clean the track of debris. Also involved in the wreck were Keselowski, Harvick, Ryan Newman, Casey Mears and Stremme. On the restart on Lap 454, Kenseth remained out front.