Sprint Cup Series driver Kasey Kahne (5) celebrates winning the Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Photo: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports)
HAMPTON -- Kasey Kahne claimed his first win of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season when he beat Matt Kenseth to the checkered flag Sunday in the Oral-B USA 500.
It was Kahne's third-career win at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and it punched his ticket into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Denny Hamlin finished third.
Kevin Harvick dominated the race, leading a total of 195 laps, and was chasing Kahne in what appeared to be the duel for the win when the yellow flag waved for an incident between Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch with a lap and a half remaining in the race's scheduled 325-lap distance.
After running first and second, Kahne and Harvick took four fresh tires and restarted the race fourth and fifth for the first attempted green-white-checker finish behind Kenseth, Paul Menard and Hamlin. Kenseth and Menard took only two new tires each.
Menard spun his tires on the restart, bunching up cars behind him. Harvick was among the victims, hitting the wall. The reset button was set again in the form of a caution and another green-white-checker attempt, with Kenseth, Hamlin and Kahne restarting first through third.
After putting on a dominating performance early in the race, Harvick retook the lead just past the halfway point. He then lost three positions on a restart following a lap-173 caution but soon got back up to the front.
Harvick then lost his lead on pit road during a caution just past lap 300, but he got back to the lead with just over 100 laps remaining.
Jimmie Johnson finished fourth, and Carl Edwards was fifth. Danica Patrick posted a career-best, sixth-place finish.
Kenseth led at the halfway point, with Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Harvick and Kurt Busch running second and third.
Busch took the lead from Kenseth soon after a restart that followed a lap-125 caution, the fourth caution of the race. He pulled away for several laps after the restart, but as the race neared the halfway point, Kenseth and Harvick closed, and both were able to get by Busch to take over the top two spots.
Harvick dominated the race early. After starting on the pole, he led all 81 laps until Hamlin beat him off pit road during the second caution. For most early laps, Jeff Gordon ran second, but the second caution came as a result of debris from Gordon's car when it scraped the wall. Gordon then went two laps down due to the damage and time spent on pit road for repairs.
Harvick retook the lead from Hamlin in lapped traffic just before lap 110, but when the third yellow flag waved, Hamlin again beat him off pit road. When the race restarted, instead of moving back to the lead, Harvick dropped back to fifth as Kenseth moved up to second.
With Hamlin leading and Kenseth in second, Joe Gibbs Racing had a hold on the top two spots. Kenseth took the lead from his teammate just before the lap 125 caution. After the top five drivers stayed out, Kenseth restarted in the lead but quickly lost the advantage to Busch.
NOTES: Jeff Gordon made his 750th career Sprint Cup start. Atlanta was also the site of his first career start in November 1992 in the same race that was Richard Petty's last. ... Kevin Harvick led all but 36 laps and won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Atlanta on Saturday night. ... Tony Stewart returned for his first race after missing three Sprint Cup Series events. He started 12th, raced into the top five early but then scraped the wall just before halfway, causing a steering problem. He finished 41st. ... Clint Bowyer headed into Atlanta in possession of the final provisional Chase for the Sprint Cup spot, should there not be a new winner before the Chase starts, but he lost that spot after spending 22 laps in the garage as his team replaced his transmission. ... Nationwide Series regular Ty Dillon made his Sprint Cup Series debut in the No. 33 Circle Sport Chevrolet. ... The six-race suspension for Denny Hamlin's crew chief, Darian Grubb, is winding down, with only the Sept. 6 regular-season finale at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway remaining in the punishment.