Matt Kenseth wins, but Brad Keselowski advances to championship — NASCAR at Phoenix

Doug Mendoza
November 13, 2017

Matt Kenseth might have gotten the final victory of his Cup Series career on Sunday.

Chase Elliott got his revenge.

Keselowski, who finished in 16th place, was the beneficiary as he advanced in the playoffs through points.

Larson took the lead with a pass of playoff driver Denny Hamlin, who led 40 of the stage's 75 laps.

Elliott battered Hamlin's bumper with 43 laps to go, likely causing a tire rub to Hamlin's left-front.

Just a few laps later, his tire blew, Hamlin hit the wall and his race was over.

Elliott confronted Hamlin on the cool-down lap at Martinsville and the two were heated after the race.

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Kenseth - who had been passed over by Hendrick Motorsports when two Cup vacancies for next season were filled by younger drivers William Byron and Alex Bowman - cost Elliott and Hendrick a spot in the championship race when he made the pass in the Can-Am 500. The 2003 NASCAR champion is a two-time Daytona 500 victor and consistent playoff driver, but he's 45 and being replaced at Joe Gibbs Racing next season by Erik Jones.

Through Stage 1, Hamlin is on track to punch his ticket to Homestead-Miami Speedway.

After Lap 258 of 312: Denny Hamlin holds onto second place on the ensuing restart behind Matt Kenseth, but Chris Buescher's fiery crash in Turn 3 on Lap 253 brings out a red flag to fix the SAFER barrier.

Those brake rotors caused parts of the wall to catch on fire. After crossing the finish line, Kenseth was overcome with emotion and jumped on top of his auto to celebrate.

Matt Kenseth: Kenseth hadn't won in 51 races, and his career won't continue after this season for lack of a ride, even though he has said he would like to.

Chase Elliott: This is Elliott's seventh second-place finish without a win, and while he said after the race he hopes to eventually correct that closing issue, this loss will sting more than others with a championship berth on the line.

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