Kevin Harvick won Saturday's Wonderful Pistachios 400 at the Richmond International Raceway for his fourth victory of the 2011 season. It is Harvick's first top-five since Pocono in June. Carl Edwards ran Harvick down after a late restart but could not quite get by, finishing just over a tenth of a second behind at the line. Jeff Gordon, who led until the final caution flag set up the restart with 12 laps left, faded and finished third over David Ragan and Kurt Busch.
The three drivers who held the remaining Chase spots entering tonight's race - Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Denny Hamlin - maintained their positions to make the 2011 Sprint Cup playoff. Stewart had a relatively quiet night but it was an eventful one for Earnhardt - who had to make more than 20 pit stops on the night and recieved the Lucky Dog free pass three times in the race - and Hamlin, who was involved in an early incident that also involved Earnhardt.
Stewart finished seventh, Hamlin was ninth, and Earnhardt Jr. finished 16th. Brad Keselowski finished 12th, so he makes the Chase via the wild card but is unable to use the bonus points for his three wins this year. Clint Bowyer missed the Chase by finishing 22nd. He was the trigger car in the multi-car pileup that got Hamlin and Earnhardt but worked his way up to the top-five. The handling went away for his Chevrolet and put him out of the playoff, the second-time in three years Bowyer has been left out.
With the chase re-seeding, Kyle Busch and Harvick are tied for the series lead by virtue of four wins apiece. Jeff Gordon has three wins, putting him third. The rest of the Chase field includes five-time defending-series champion Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Stewart, Earnhardt Jr., Keselowski, and Hamlin.