Although he started from pole position last year and this weekend scored the 5th fastest time in qualifying, Kahne was never regarded as strong competition on a road course such as the one at Sonoma. However, the Dodge driver kept his cool and was the last one to pit from the leading pack, which gave him a short lead in the first part of the race.
He would later return at the top of the field following his last pit stop, as he managed to rejoin the track only seconds ahead of his Stewart Haas Racing rival. From that point on, the two would battle for supremacy, as neither were to pit until the chequered flag.
A record 4 cautions were to be flagged by the NASCAR officials in the last 30 laps of the race, but Kahne's approach of each of the 4 restarts was close to perfection. While at liberty to choose his lane – thanks to the double-file restart rule – he always went for a block to Stewart on the outside, therefore securing 1st place.
He went on to win his first race for Richard Petty and his Petty Enterprises in almost a decade.
“It's crazy, we qualified well here the last couple of years and it feels good to qualify well, run out front and hold off Tony Stewart, that's awesome. Tony is as good as it gets on any type of track and we were able to go hard with our car. It's unbelievable to win here. To win any race and to win at a road course for me is crazy,” said Kahne in the Victory Lane.
“I wasn't waiting for anything but (Kahne) made one mistake and we closed in on him and we couldn't do anything when we got there. He never made a mistake. That one time in the last 16 or 17 laps he made one mistake and on a road course where you have 11 corners to only make one mistake like that he did an awesome job,” added Stewart.
Thanks to his runner-up finish at Sonoma, the Stewart Haas driver cemented his 1st place in the point standings, as Hendrick Motorsports' Jeff Gordon finished 9th overall on Sunday (83 points now separate the two on top of the drivers' classification). Following the leading duo at the finish line were Marcos Ambrose, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Juan Montoya, AJ Allmendinger and Clint Bowyer, while Elliott Sadler followed Gordon for a Top 10 finish.