Kenseth Plays Playoff Spoiler at Phoenix

by Tucker White On Sun, Nov. 12, 2017

AVONDALE, Ariz. - NOVEMBER 12: Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Circle K Toyota, celebrates after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 12, 2017 in Avondale, Arizona. Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

If Matt Kenseth doesn’t race in NASCAR again after next Sunday, he went out in a blaze of glory by denying Chase Elliott his golden ticket to the championship round and ending year and a half winless drought in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway.

Following a clustered restart with 32 laps to go, Elliott passed Kenseth through the dog leg and entering Turn 3 to take the lead with 28 to go.

Kenseth wouldn’t be denied, however, as he ran down, gave him a tap in Turn 4 with 12 to go, finally passed him entering Turn 3 to take the lead with nine to go and drove on to score his 39th career victory in 650 career starts.

On the cool down lap, a number of drivers drove up alongside — and in the case of Elliott and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., tapped him from behind — to congratulate him.

When he got out of his car at the start/finish line, the stoic Kenseth climbed onto the roof and started tearing up as the fans cheered him on.

Elliott finished second and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the podium.

Erik Jones and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five.

Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Aric Almirola and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-10.

RACE SUMMARY

Ryan Blaney led the field to the green flag at 2:39 p.m. Elliott short-cut the dog leg to pass Blaney entering Turn 3 and take the lead on Lap 13. He got loose in Turn 3, allowing Hamlin to pass him exiting Turn 4 and take the lead on Lap 26, only to lose it a lap later when Elliott put the chrome bumper to him going into Turn 1. Hamlin responded on Lap 28 when he powered by Elliott on the outside exiting Turn 2 to take it back. Kyle Larson took the lead from out of nowhere on Lap 68 and drove on to win the first stage.

When Hamlin took it back under the first stage break, he held it past the second stage break, the points for which he won, and lost under the third caution — due to Trevor Bayne blowing a tire in Turn 4 — when his car stalled briefly on pit road, handing the lead to Matt Kenseth.

Hamlin’s wreck in Turn 3 with 38 to go setup the run to the finish.

CAUTION SUMMATION

The first caution flew on Lap 75 for the end of the first stage. Jimmie Johnson’s wreck in Turn 4, due to a tire blowout, brought out the second caution on Lap 149. Bayne brought out the third caution on Lap 229 when he suffered a right-front tire blowout and slammed the outside wall in Turn 4. A brake hose in Turn 1 brought out the fourth caution with 74 laps to go. Chris Buescher brought out the fifth caution with 59 to go, as well as a red flag for a fire in the SAFER barrier that his brake rotor caused. Cole Whitt’s wreck in Turn 4 brought out the sixth caution with 50 to go. Hamlin’s wreck in Turn 3 brought out the final caution with 38 to go.

NUTS & BOLTS

The race lasted two hours, 57 minutes and 23 seconds, at an average speed of 105.534 mph.

Truex, Kyle Busch, Harvick and Brad Keselowski advance to the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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