After the tense wait over the inclement weather that finally pushed the Chase-opening Geico 400 to Monday morning, the drama at Chicagoland Speedway proved to be in the knife-edge fuel conservation strategies that claimed some big names in the final seconds of the race.

Tony Stewart had it all under control, however, and claimed his first victory of 2011 (the 40th of his 455-race career) at just the right time to energise his Chase hopes. He stayed ahead of a late charge from Kevin Harvick, who took second place and leapt to the lead of the Chase standings just ahead of Stewart after the first of the ten post-season playoffs.

The race was substantially dominated by Chase contenders, most of whom ran in and around the top ten all day - the exceptions being Denny Hamlin who was undone by a forced unscheduled pit stop for a vibration early in the race and who finished 31st, and Jeff Gordon with a tyre problem that left him in 24th after he ran out of gas on the final lap.

Jimmie Johnson coasted across the line in tenth after running out of gas on the last lap, but Kyle Busch ran out even earlier and dropped back to 22nd place. Polesitter and longtime race leader Matt Kenseth also ran dry, and while he finished in eighth place he was judged to have received an illegal last-lap push from JJ Yeley in the process and demoted a lap, putting him in 21st position.

Race results

1. #14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet 267 laps 2:54:29.000s (47/1 pts)
2. #29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 267 laps + 0.941s (42/0 pts)
3. #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 267 laps + 7.043s (41/0 pts)
4. #99 Carl Edwards Ford 267 laps + 12.579s (41/1 pts)
5. #2 Brad Keselowski Dodge 267 laps + 15.649s (40/1 pts)
6. #22 Kurt Busch Dodge 267 laps + 16.897s (40/2 pts)
7. #33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 267 laps + 17.240s (37/0 pts)
8. #39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 267 laps + 18.477s (37/1 pts)
9. #5 Mark Martin Chevrolet 267 laps + 19.606s (35/0 pts)
10. #48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 267 laps + 20.182s (35/1 pts)
11. #6 David Ragan Ford 267 laps + 20.671s (33/0 pts)
12. #4 Kasey Kahne Toyota 267 laps + 20.930s (32/0 pts)
13. #83 Brian Vickers Toyota 267 laps + 21.464s (31/0 pts)
14. #42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet 267 laps + 22.349s (30/0 pts)
15. #31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 267 laps + 22.717s (29/0 pts)
16. #20 Joey Logano Toyota 267 laps + 23.242s (28/0 pts)
17. #78 Regan Smith Chevrolet 267 laps + 23.456s (27/0 pts)
18. #56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 267 laps + 25.025s (27/1 pts)
19. #9 Marcos Ambrose Ford 267 laps + 38.038s (25/0 pts)
20. #27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 267 laps + 40.161s (24/0 pts)
21. #17 Matt Kenseth Ford 266 laps + 1 lap (24/1 pts)
22. #18 Kyle Busch Toyota 266 laps + 1 lap (23/1 pts)
23. #21 Trevor Bayne Ford 266 laps + 1 lap (0pts)
24. #24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 265 laps + 2 laps (20/0 pts)
25. #32 Mike Bliss Ford 265 laps + 2 laps (0pts)
26. #16 Greg Biffle Ford 265 laps + 2 laps (18/0 pts)
27. #43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford 265 laps + 2 laps (17/0 pts)
28. #71 Andy Lally * Ford 265 laps + 2 laps (16/0 pts)
29. #13 Casey Mears Toyota 265 laps + 2 laps (15/0 pts)
30. #51 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 264 laps + 3 laps (0pts)
31. #11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 264 laps + 3 laps (13/0 pts)
32. #00 David Reutimann Toyota 263 laps + 4 laps (12/0 pts)
33. #36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet 263 laps + 4 laps (11/0 pts)
34. #38 J.J. Yeley Ford 263 laps + 4 laps (11/1 pts)
35. #46 Scott Speed Ford 260 laps + 7 laps (0pts)
36. #34 David Gilliland Ford 259 laps + 8 laps (8/0 pts)
37. #47 Bobby Labonte Toyota 236 laps + 31 laps (7/0 pts)
38. #1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 163 laps Engine (6/0 pts)
39. #7 Robby Gordon Dodge 77 laps Vibration (5/0 pts)
40. #87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 45 laps Electrical (0pts)
41. #30 David Stremme Chevrolet 44 laps Vibration (3/0 pts)
42. #37 Josh Wise Ford 41 laps Brakes (0pts)
43. #66 Michael McDowell Toyota 25 laps Brakes (1/0 pts)