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.
Ryan Newman was third in a Dodge Intrepid, followed by Kurt Busch in a Ford Taurus and Michael Waltrip in a Chevrolet.
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.
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