10 biggest surprises from Sprint Cup race at Atlanta

Jimmie Johnson used a brilliant, ballsy call by crew chief Chad Knaus to steal a victory in the Folds of Honor Quicktrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Here are the biggest surprises from a rather unpredictable race.

10. Stenhouse top 10 -- With a 10th-place finish at Atlanta, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was best among the Roush Fenway Racing Fords in this race. He's best on the team in the points standings, too.

9. Elliott top 10 -- Rookie Chase Elliott drove a smart, consistent race to earn his first career top-10 finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Elliott came home eighth, which was a solid effort.

8. Ganassi cars awful -- Jamie McMurray was 21st and Kyle Larson 26th in an ugly weekend for the Chip Ganassi outfit.

7. Brad K. first Ford -- The top eight finishers Sunday consisted of five Chevrolets and three Toyotas. The best Ford belonged to Team Penske's Brad Keselowski, who ended up ninth.

6. Kahne struggles -- Of the four Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 1-2, with Chase Elliott eighth. Kasey Kahne, who finished ahead of all three of his Hendrick teammates at Daytona, wound up 23rd at Atlanta.

5. No DNFs -- The 39-car field was the smallest in a Sprint Cup race since North Wilkesboro in 1996. And yet, when the checkered flag flew, all 39 cars were classified as running.

4. Truex still strong -- With Furniture Row being such a small team, it wouldn't have been a surprise to see Martin Truex Jr. come out of the gate slowly after an off-season manufacturer change. But he finished second at Daytona and seventh at Atlanta and is now second in points behind Kyle Busch.

3. Denny slides -- Forget about momentum for a minute. Denny Hamlin scored the biggest win of his career a week earlier when he captured the Daytona 500 in the closest finish in event history. But at Atlanta, he was never a factor and finished way back in 16th, two laps down.

2. No cautions -- The first 210 laps of the race went caution-free, and there was just one caution in the first 323 laps. This despite the cars being difficult to drive due to the new, low-downforce aero package. That meant that a lot of good cars fell off the lead lap by the middle of the race, with the field well spread out.

1. Chad's big gamble -- On what turned out to be the last green-flag pit stops of the day, Chad Knaus brought Jimmie Johnson in for tires nine laps before the rest of the leaders. It was an audacious gamble, because it meant that Johnson would have to go far further on his tires than his competitors. But Johnson made it work and won the race. No guts, no glory.