PHOENIX, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his first non-restrictor plate race in more than two years Sunday, capturing the NASCAR Checker Auto Parts 500.
Driving a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Earnhardt passed Jimmie Johnson on lap 262 and led the remainder of the 312-lap race. He defeated Johnson's Chevrolet by 0.735 seconds for his ninth career Winston Cup win.
Matt Kenseth finished sixth, keeping his firm grasp on the lead for the Winston Cup title. He entered the race with a 258-point advantage over Earnhardt and had it trimmed to 228 with just two races remaining.
A crash on lap 228 took out many of the leading contenders.