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

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

The Championship 4 of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski has been set.

Elliott battered Hamlin's bumper with 43 laps to go, likely causing a tire rub to Hamlin's left-front. Elliott would tangle with Denny Hamlin and soon take the lead after contact with the No. 11 Toyota in the closing laps.

Elliott's only chance of advancing is with a win. Keselowski entered the race 19 points ahead of Hamlin and 22 points ahead of Blaney. Elliott would hang on to finish runner-up for his seventh runner-up finish of the season. He led for 193 of 312 laps.

During the ensuing pit stop, the jack on Hamlin's auto was dropped before all the lugnuts on the tire were secured. After crossing the finish line, Kenseth was overcome with emotion and jumped on top of his vehicle to celebrate. Unfortunately, he doesn't advance into the championship round of 4 in the Chase.

The drama comes just two weeks after Hamlin ended Elliott's shot at a first win and a spot in the championship race. Which will be hard to do, particularly in the case of Blaney who will at least start the day P1 since he is on the pole.

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Johnson crashed on Lap 150 and has been eliminated from contention. The 10 points he earns for that, plus the nine he received for coming second in Stage 1, closed the entire points gap that Keselowski had coming into the race.

Stage 2: Hamlin dominated the second stage and cruised to a stage win without any fuss.

Jimmie Johnson, who qualified for the round of 8, had a tire go down on Lap 150 and hit the wall, ending his championship hopes.

Matt Kenseth might have gotten the final victory of his Cup Series career on Sunday. A win in that race, much like a win on Sunday, would have locked Elliott into the final round of the playoffs.

In addition, Hamlin won the race off pit road and began Stage 2 as the leader. He has now won 39 races on the Monster Energy Cup Series throughout his career.


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