The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series traveled to Talladega Superspeedway for the final race in the Contender round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Entering Sunday's race, there was only one driver who was locked into the next round: Joey Logano. That left 11 drivers battling for seven spots in the next round.
Jeff Gordon started the race on the pole in his final Sprint Cup race at Talladega, and he proceeded to lead the first 11 laps before being passed by Denny Hamlin. Hamlin then held the lead until Dale Earnhardt Jr., who needed a win to advance, took the lead on Lap 14. Earnhardt Jr. than held the lead until he made a green flag pit stop on Lap 41, when Jimmie Johnson inherited the lead. Earnhardt Jr. than retook the lead within 15 laps. He held the lead until Lap 81 when he made his second green flag pit stop.
Hamlin had some issues on Lap 87 when he had to make another pit stop because the hatch on the roof that is there as an alternate escape route for the driver was coming off, and NASCAR ordered the team to fix it, or risk being black flagged. Their first time down to fix it, the crew attempted to tape it down, but the adhesive started coming off on the back of the roof.
While that was happening, Logano took the lead for 12 laps before giving way to Kevin Harvick, who took the lead and held it until Lap 120 when the field made their third green flag pit stops of the afternoon. Earnhardt Jr. had to serve a pass through penalty due to having a crew member over the wall too early. That knocked him to the back of the lead lap, but did not put him a lap down. He got saved on Lap 132 when Justin Allgaier blew an engine, which brought out the first caution of the day just as Earnhardt Jr. was about to go a lap down.
After a round of pit stops, Matt Kenseth led the field back to green on Lap 139 with Kyle Busch in second position. Busch quickly took the lead from Kenseth, but Earnhardt Jr. made a couple of clutch moves and retook the lead on Lap 151. Greg Biffle rolled the dice and did not pit, and held the lead until there were five laps to go when Jamie McMurray blew an engine to bring out the caution. That resulted in a green-white-checkered finish.
When the field was set to go green, Jimmie Johnson spun out into the grass, but NASCAR ruled that it was not an attempt at the GWC finish because the leaders never made it to the start/finish line, which resulted in another green-white-checkered finish.
When the race went green, there was another crash that happened almost immediately, prompting NASCAR to throw the yellow. This time, it was an official race, but NASCAR went to the video to determine what the finishing order is. After they reviewed the end, they ruled that Logano narrowly won the race over Earnhardt Jr., earning the Team Penske driver his third consecutive win which sees him complete a sweep of the Contender round.
The next stop for the Chase will be Martinsville Speedway next weekend. Follow @NASCARonVAVEL on Twitter for coverage leading up to and during the race weekend.