Jeff Gordon won in controversial fashion at the Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday after late race contact with Matt Kenseth.

Gordon looked on course for second place behind Kenseth until the final ten laps of the USG Sheetrock 400 when the driver of the #24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet began closing rapidly on Kenseth's #17 Roush Racing Ford.

As the lead duo entered turn one on lap 263 of the scheduled 267 Kenseth appeared to bobble behind the lapped car of Casey Mears resulting in Gordon running into the rear of the driver he had a shoving match with after the Bristol race earlier this year.

Kenseth spun in a cloud of tyre smoke but was able to keep his car off the wall and pointing in roughly the right direction but still dropped to eighth place, his chances of victory gone.

Kenseth's day was then completed when he ran out of fuel before the race restarted, causing every one of the remaining contenders to look worryingly at their fuel gauges as the race ran into overtime.

To a hail of boos from the 80,000 strong Chicagoland crowd Gordon took the green-white-chequered restart ahead of polesitter Jeff Burton and held on to the lead over the final two tours around the 1.5-mile Chicagoland oval to take his first career win at the Illinois venue.

Deeply unpopular with the crowd, who believed Gordon's bump on Kenseth was deliberate, Gordon's first oval win of the 2006 season was greeted with some rather unsavoury scenes as fans threw bottles onto the track but nevertheless, the win lifts Gordon back into the top ten in points and into the current Chase for the Championship qualifying zone.

Poleman Burton led the opening 60 laps of a race that eventually ran to 270 but once he found himself in traffic, the dreaded aero push reared its ugly head and Burton, like so many others who showed occasionally at the front, could never work his way back to the head of the pack thereafter.

Burton eked enough fuel out of the tank of his #31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to follow Gordon to the line in second spot with Kyle Busch taking advantage of Tony Stewart's failure to get enough fuel out of his tank to snatch third spot.

Burton's RCR teammate Kevin Harvick, who led for nearly 40 laps following the first caution period of the day, took fourth place with Dale Earnhardt Jr, who also led for a period before getting stuck in traffic, completing the top five.

With Kenseth leading Jimmie Johnson looked like losing his slender points lead after running in the lower reaches of the top ten for most of the day. However with Kenseth trailing back in the pack, Johnson's careful strategy paid off handsomely as he took sixth position and increased his championship lead in the process.

Rookie Reed Sorensen made an already big day for his Chip Ganassi Racing team even better with a strong run to seventh position with Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and JJ Yeley rounding out the top ten.

Greg Biffle failed to demonstrate the kind of form that his practice speeds indicated and finished a largely anonymous eleventh while Bobby Labonte ran in the top half dozen for most of the day before fading to 12th in the final stages.

Rookie Denny Hamlin recovered well from a puncture to finish 14th but still dropped out of the Chase for the Championship while Carl Edwards finished a disappointing 20th after an early race brush with the wall.

Kenseth's late race misery was completed when he clashed with rookie David Stremme as the pair battled for 21st position at the chequered flag. After crossing the start/finish line Kenseth's car was hooked head-on into the outside wall with the fact that Kenseth had taken 21st spot offering little consolation.

Kasey Kahne, another driver who many had down as a pre-race favourite, never found a decent balance on his #9 Evernham Motorsports Dodge and finished 23rd while Stewart was classified 32nd after his late, late stop for fuel.

After running with just two caution flags (both for debris) for the first 170 laps, no less than six caution periods in the final 100 laps punctuated the finish. Harmless spins for Elliott Sadler and Tony Raines were followed by slightly more harmful spins for Michael Waltrip, Casey Mears and Kenseth but engine victim Terry Labonte was the only one of the 43 starters not to make the finish.


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