How the race was won
Stewart Survival, a little luck and controversy, that's how Tony Stewart managed to snap his 43-race winless streak. Unlike most Chase drivers, Stewart wasn't caught up in the Big One. When it came down to the final few laps, Stewart was trying to hold off Regan Smith and Paul Menard, who don't have the experience Stewart does. Smith actually passed Stewart as they charged to the checkered flag, but NASCAR ruled the pass was illegal because Smith had done so below the yellow line, which handed the victory to Stewart.
Stories of the race
Tires: There were a total of five blown tires in Sunday's race, which led to several accidents that took out Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin. Hamlin, in fact, hit the wall so hard after his tire blew that he was taken to a hospital.
Surviving a bad weekend: Jimmie Johnson had engine issues all weekend and early on in Sunday's race it looked like the two-time defedning champion would be in for a long day. But Johnson's engine held up, he finished ninth and left Talladega with a bigger points lead than when he arrived.
Carl's bad decision
Carl Edwards' strategy was to avoid trouble all day by riding around the back. When he finally made his move, he got a little too aggressive, banging the bumper of teammate Greg Biffle. That sparked a multi-car wreck that took out six Chase drivers (Edwards, Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick).
Passing below the yellow line
Regan Smith beat Tony Stewart to the finish line, but the pass was disallowed because Smith was under the yellow line, which is in violation of NASCAR's rules. But did Stewart block Smith, forcing him below the line? It sure looked like it.
Grading the race
Twenty-eight drivers led a lap Sunday, a NASCAR record. There was so much shuffling around this race felt like watching the ebb and flow of the stock market on a busy day. Drivers were up, then they were down. The final lap provided another exciting finish, one filled with controversey. Grade: A
From the source
Tony Stewart: "It's one thing to get back to victory lane, but to do it at Talladega. This is one of about four places I haven't won a Cup race at and talk about one to win. I've wanted to win here for so long."
Regan Smith: "They always tell us in the driver's meeting if you get forced to the inside then you can go for it, especially on the last lap. We'll see what they make as a ruling. I really feel like The Principal Financial Group Chevy won this race."