Kenseth finally got back into the lead just before a debris caution on lap 219, which was the result of some bodywork dropping off the #2 Penske car of reigning champion Brad Keselowski, which had sustained bodywork damage in jostling very early in the race that had only got worse as the afternoon went on. Stenhouse Jr. and Edwards were among those on pit lane when the yellow came out, which cost them crucial track position at the restart. Kenseth was more fortunate.
"Thankfully, I had a couple of really crazy-good restarts for some reason and made up some ground and got us back in position," he said. "Our car was very fast in clean air. It was reasonable in dirty air. But it wasn't quite good enough to catch all them guys and pass 'em [in traffic.]"
Once in front after the later debris caution, and with no more yellows in the offing, Kenseth seemed to have it made: "It was kind of like musical chairs," Kenseth explained. "You had to be out front when the music stopped." The late-charging Kahne provided some anxious late moments, but finally the #20 claimed the chequered flag and headed to to victory lane.
It was the third consecutive Cup race in which the polesitter had gone on to claim the race win. Unlike other motor racing series, that's a rare state of affairs in NASCAR: the last time it had happened was back in 1985 when Bill Elliott won at Michigan, then Dale Earnhardt clinched Bristol and Elliott was victorious from the front at Darlington.
The win boosted Kenseth up to eighth place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points standings, just behind Kyle Busch who slumped five places after his Kansas nightmare. Jimmie Johnson still leads the points after finishing in third place behind Kahne this weekend after a quietly effective weekend.
Fourth in the STP 400 was Truex, who was followed to the line by his Michael Waltrip Racing team mate Clint Bowyer. Keselowski made it home to the finish despite the #2 falling to pieces, classified in sixth ahead of Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing's Jamie McMurray and Richard Petty Motorsports' Aric Almirola. The top ten was rounded out by the remaining MWR driver Mark Martin and by Richard Childress Racing's Paul Menard, which left Stenhouse squeezed out into 11th place after that late setback being in the pits as the last caution flew.
Full race results
and Sprint Cup Championship standings