Published: Mon, November 13, 2017
Sports | By Spencer Underwood

Kenseth wins, Keselowski into Championship Four, Hamlin and Elliott out after bump

Kenseth wins, Keselowski into Championship Four, Hamlin and Elliott out after bump

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

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.

There was always going to be one delighted driver and four jealous ones when Sunday's playoff cutdown race finished, but now we know who falls into which category. The 2003 Cup Series champion's contract with Joe Gibbs Racing expires at the end of the season and he's being replaced in the No. 20 auto by Erik Jones.

Larson led Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Martin Truex Jr. Hamlin dropped to seventh, just ahead of Keselowski, before the tire blew.

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"I think it shows that there's no reason why he couldn't have gotten a job anywhere else". He has now won 39 races on the Monster Energy Cup Series throughout his career.

A few laps later, Hamlin's vehicle was in the wall. That put the Joe Gibbs Racing driver in primo position to earn his way to Miami, but late contact with Chase Elliott ended his day early. "It's just, I guess, the industry didn't see Matt Kenseth as their driver, and that's really, really unfortunate because I love the guy and have raced with respect for him for a long, long time and will forever respect him for what he's done for the sport". "That's about all I have to say", Elliott told reporters. "I raced him how he raced me, and that's the way I saw it".

Hamlin erased all of Keselowski's points lead following the second stage. He has maintained that he didn't mean to wreck Elliott at Martinsville, and the payback Sunday was redemption.

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.

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