AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. brought his No. 88 Chevrolet to pit road for an unscheduled pit stop on Lap 63 and lost a lap in the process. The culprit? A loose wheel.
Earnhardt, however, was back on the lead lap as the highest-scored lapped car after NASCAR called the fourth caution of the race for Dave Blaney's spin in Turn 1 on Lap 132.
A combination of hard driving and astute pit strategy on the part of crew chief Steve Letarte got Earnhardt back in the top five, and ultimately he delivered a fourth-place finish.
The rally didn't surprise Earnhardt, who posted his seventh top 10 in the last eight races.
"We had a fast car," Earnhardt said. "I thought Steve Letarte could get some good strategy to get us back up into the top 10 and top five, and I was real happy with the way we were able to rebound."
Kahne's performance in the Chase has been, to say the least, erratic. Even after posting his second straight top-five finish Sunday at Phoenix, where he ran second to Kevin Harvick, Kahne is 12th in the Chase standings.
But with Sunday's success, the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet already is pointing to 2014.
"I get down once in a while and feel pretty bad about what's going on," Kahne said. "We've had a lot of things happen to us this year, but we've battled back the last two weeks. We ran pretty good, fifth and second, so I'm happy about that.
"We'll try to finish off strong at Homestead with another top five and maybe prepare a little better for next year and try to have a little more consistent, stronger year from start to finish."
By Reid Spencer - NASCAR Wire Service