All four Hendrick Motorsports drivers make Chase. Danica Patrick finishes career-best sixth.

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HAMPTON, Ga. — Kasey Kahne led the final two laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway, clinching a Chase for the Sprint Cup berth with his first win this season.

Kahne snatched the lead from Matt Kenseth in the second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish and won the Oral-B USA 500 by 0.574 seconds. With the 17th victory of his career and his first since August 2013 at Pocono Raceway, Kahne joined Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson in the Chase.

That marks three years in a row all four Hendrick drivers have qualified.

"It took a lot," Kahne said. "We were all over the place. The guys stayed with me and worked hard.

"Really happy. It's tough. We've had a downer year at times. I's been one thing after another. But we're in the Chase with our teammates, I have great teammates. It's awesome to work with those guys. Glad we're in the Chase."

WATCH: Final laps of Oral-B USA 500

Kenseth finished second and also clinched a spot in the Chase on points.

Denny Hamlin finished third, followed by Johnson and Carl Edwards. Danica Patrick was sixth (her best career Sprint Cup finish), and Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson, Aric Almirola and Greg Biffle rounded out the top 10.

"It was a long night. That race felt like it was 700 miles," Patrick said. "Sometimes when you are running well you hope it stays like that. ... Obviously the pit stop at the end -- 11 seconds -- was just so good. ... I'm just so happy for my team and what we did tonight."

ARMOUR: Stewart briefly escaped real-life horrors

Kahne took his first lead from Hamlin on a restart with 24 laps remaining. He had fended off the dominant car of Kevin Harvick, who started from the pole and led the most laps, until the caution flew for a collision between Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch with two laps remaining.

That set up the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. The yellow flew on the first try when Paul Menard, Harvick and Joey Logano made contact. The chain reaction began when Menard, running second beside leader Kenseth, got off to a slow start at the green, slowing down Harvick's No. 4 Chevrolet and forcing it high into the wall.

"Obviously the 27 (Menard) and 20 (Kenseth) had two tires, and I knew they were going to have bad restarts. The 27 just couldn't get going. It held everybody up and you saw what happened," Harvick said.

"There are other things we need to work on. I got beat off pit road every time by Hamlin and Kenseth. That's not good enough and we're going to have to work on that."

The battle tightened for the final spots in the 16-driver Chase field, which will be set after Saturday's race at Richmond International Raceway.

Clint Bowyer, who entered Atlanta with a comfortable 31-point cushion over the Chase cutoff line, endured a disastrous night. A transmission problem sent his No. 15 Toyota to the garage for repairs, dropping him 15 laps off the pace.

He limped to a 38th-place finish. Bowyer still could make the Chase via points at Richmond but now will need a win to be certain. He trails Biffle by 23 points for the final spot in the Chase.

Newman holds a virtually insurmountable 42-point lead on the last position that is guaranteed to be set by points.

Tony Stewart enjoyed a strong start in an emotional return to NASCAR after missing three races since his sprint car struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. in an Aug. 9 race in upstate New York.

He zoomed from 12th to seventh in the first two laps, picking off cars while hugging the wall around the 1.54-mile oval. Stewart had improved to fourth at the first caution on Lap 39. He lost a few spots on a pit stop but managed to stay in the top 10 through the next yellow flag on Lap 79.

The handling of his car began to fade after that stop, and he had dropped to 11th for the next stop under caution on Lap 116.

It took a turn for the worse on a Lap 122 restart when he slapped the wall after making contact with the No. 18 Toyota of Kyle Busch. After several pit stops under yellow to repair damage, Stewart restarted in 21st as the last driver on the lead lap.

He skidded into the wall again with a right-front tire failure 48 laps later, ending his night. He finished 41st.

Stewart, whose only public statement was a 2-minute, 30-second prepared address Friday, declined interview requests.

"We got off to a good start," said Chad Johnston, Stewart's crew chief. "I went into today with some pretty high hopes of finishing well and possibly coming out of here with a win, but it just didn't work out in our favor. We got into a little trouble with (Busch) and got into the outside wall and a lot of heavy right side damage.

"We were just trying to fix that and salvage what we could, but then we blew a right front. It's really good to have him back."

PHOTOS: Tony Stewart returns to NASCAR

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The three-time champion was greeted warmly, receiving the loudest and longest cheer (amid a smattering of boos) in driver introductions as many stood and clapped in the grandstands. Fans used markers to scrawl at least a dozen message of support on the wall of his team's pit stall.

His No. 14 Chevrolet drew the largest crowd on the starting grid, too. After wrapping up his introduction with the traditional lap around the track in a pickup truck, Stewart was greeted at his car by several Stewart-Haas Racing executives. Competition director Greg Zipadelli, his former crew chief for 10 seasons and two championships, greeted him with a hug and words of encouragement.

Stewart talked with Johnston and other team members under the watchful eye of his inner circle -- business manager Eddie Jarvis, SHR executive vice president Brett Frood and communications director Mike Arning. The group interlocked arms in a circle for a prerace prayer.

For the invocation and national anthem, Steawrt was flanked by sponsor bigwigs Johnny Morris (of Bass Pro Shops) and W.M. "Rusty" Rush. The CEO of Rush Enterprises told USA TODAY Sports before the race that his truck dealership company remained committed to its sponsorship of Stewart.

Follow Ryan on Twitter @nateryan

PHOTOS: 2014 Sprint Cup race winners

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