2003 Nextel Cup Champion Matt Kenseth underlined his championship credentials with a supreme display at the Michigan International Speedway on Sunday as he won the GFS Marketplace 400.
Kenseth led 87 of 200 laps around the two-mile D-shaped Michigan oval to take his second career Cup Series win at MIS and close the gap to current points leader Jimmie Johnson to just 58.
Jeff Gordon did his chances of making the Chase for the Championship no harm at all with a strong run to second place while Tony Stewart moved up from 33rd on the grid to take third.
Fourth place wasn't enough to put Kasey Kahne back in the Chase although he did manage to reduce the gap between him and tenth place in the standings to less than 50 with his first solid finish in three weeks.
Mark Martin beat Dale Earnhardt Jr to the finish by inches to claim fifth place although Earnhardt Jr looked capable of much more than sixth spot after leading 40 laps before a slow pitstop dropped him to the tail of the top 20.
Greg Biffle managed to keep his slim title chances alive with a seventh place finish ahead of rookies Reed Sorensen and Denny Hamlin while Elliott Sadler began his career with Evernham Motorsports with a tenth place finish.
Kevin Harvick, Robby Gordon and Jimmie Johnson all recovered from spins and/or punctures to finish 11th, 12th and 13th although Carl Edwards' late race brush with the wall cost him a top ten finish and dropped him to 22nd.
While Kahne and Biffle both produced good results in their efforts to keep their chances of making the chase alive, several others saw their feint chances all but snuffed out. In addition to Edwards, Penske teammates Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch saw their hopes disappear as Newman struggled to 25th place and Busch retired after two spins and a final, hard brush with the wall.
Polesitter Jeff Burton had a short day and retired with an engine failure after less than 20 laps had been completed while Mark Martin's touted replacement Todd Kluever had an even shorter day, retiring after ten laps with accident damage. Kyle Busch suffered his worst result in many months after a puncture and contact with the wall and finished 39th while David Gilliland's debut with Robert Yates Racing ended with a 38th place finish after a puncture led to contact with the wall as well.