If this is the end for Matt Kenseth’s NASCAR career, he finished on a high note at Phoenix Raceway with his 39th-career Cup win on Sunday.
Kenseth collected his second win at Phoenix after out-dueling Chase Elliott in the closing laps pf the Can-Am 500. He held a 1.207-second after 312 laps.
Yeah, baby, who,” Kenseth said. “I’m going to be the biggest crybaby you’ve ever seen.”
Elliott finished second followed by Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Aric Almirola and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"I'll get it right some day," said Elliott after his fifth second-place run in 2017. "It's such a bummer to be so close again. I had a shot to run for the championship at Homestead."
Brad Keselowski, who finished 16th, became the fourth and final driver to battle among the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He joins Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and Kevin Harvick.
“It feels a little bit like Christmas,” Keselowski said. “Sometimes you have to have a little luck on your side.”
Denny Hamlin’s 193 laps led were the most of the race, but the event ended for him on Lap 275 after contact with Elliott.
Hamlin held the point off of pit road on Lap 154 and led the field to green on Lap 159. Kenseth continued in second followed by Kyle Busch, Truex, Harvick, Jones, Bowyer, McMurray, Elliott and Blaney.
Truex passed Busch for third, Jones moved up to fifth followed by McMurray, Harvick, Blaney, Elliott, Bowyer and Keselowski. After the first 10 laps, Hamlin took off to a .636-second lead over Kenseth. Truex ran third followed by Jones, Kyle Busch, McMurray, Harvick, Blaney, Elliott, Bowyer and Keselowski.
On Lap 176, Harvick passed Kyle Busch who complained of being sideways. Harvick moved up into the top five after catching McMurray. Elliott moved up to seventh and Newman passed Keselowski for 11th on Lap 187.
With 120 laps remaining in the race, Hamlin’s lead was .915-seconds over Kenseth. Truex, Jones, Harvick, McMurray, Elliott, Kyle Busch, Bowyer, Newman, Blaney, Ty Dillon, Austin Dillon and Keselowski completed the top 15.
Two-thirds the way into the race, Hamlin held a two-second lead over Kenseth. Truex, Jones, Harvick, McMurray, Elliott, Newman, Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Blaney, Ty Dillon, Austin Dillon, Keselowski and Earnhardt completed the top 15.
Newman used Danica Patrick as a pick to hold off an advance from Elliott on Lap 219.
Earnhardt reported a vibration just before his right front tire went down on the backstretch on Lap 226. He came to pit road on the next circuit. The No. 88 team was servicing the car, when Trevor Bayne slammed nose first into the Turn 4 wall to trigger the third caution.
“I hurt so bad,” Bayne reported to his team.
Hamlin led the lead lap cars onto pit road on Lap 231. He had led 193 laps. Kenseth was second followed by Truex, Jones and Harvick. Kenseth won the race off of pit road and chose the outside lane when the race returned to green on Lap 236. Hamlin ran second followed by Truex, Harvick, Jones, Newman, Elliott, Bowyer, McMurray and Kyle Busch. Blaney, Paul Menard Austin Dillon, Kurt Busch and Stenhouse rounded out the top 15 with Keselowski in 16th.
Harvick had passed Truex for third by the time the fourth caution was called for a brake hose on the race track on Lap 239.
“It’s just loose, the front is fine,” Harvick said.
Kenseth led the field to green on Lap 244 followed by Hamlin, Harvick, Truex, Newman, Jones, Elliott, McMurray, Ty Dillon, Blaney, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Menard, Stenhouse and Kurt Busch. Keselowski restarted 17th after pitting during the caution.
Truex moved to the inside of Hamlin in the dogleg and passed the No. 11 for second. He attempted the same move on Kenseth, who held Truex off. On the next lap, Hamlin regained second, Truex dropped to third followed by Jones, Harvick, Elliott, McMurray, Blaney, Newman and Kyle Busch.
Elliott passed Jones for fourth on Lap 249 and Harvick dropped to sixth.
Daniel Suarez made contact with Chris Buescher and cut the tire on the No. 37 Chevy to bring out the fifth caution on Lap 251. A piece of the brake rotor from Buescher’s car flipped into the SAFER barrier in Turn 3 and the foam caught on fire to bring out the red flag at two-hours, 20-minutes.
Kenseth held onto the lead followed by Hamlin, Truex, Elliott, Jones, Harvick, McMurray, Blaney Newman and Kyle Busch when the race returned to yellow after the five-minute, three-second delay. Jones was the first to pit on Lap 255. Harvick, Kyle Busch, McMurray, Menard, Earnhardt and Bowyer came in for service.
Kenseth controlled the restart on Lap 258 with Hamlin, Elliott, Truex, Blaney, Newman, Keselowski, Logano, Suarez and Kurt Busch in tow. Elliott passed Hamlin for second after the first lap. The field completed three laps before Cole Whitt hit the wall in Turns 3 and 4 to bring out the sixth caution on Lap 260.
Kenseth took the high lane with Elliott inside followed by Hamlin, Truex, Blaney, Newman, Logano, Keselowski, Jones, Kurt Busch, McMurray, Harvick, Bowyer, Stenhouse, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Earnhardt, Menard, Almirola and Ty Dillon when the race returned to green on Lap 266.
Truex moved up to second on the restart. On the next lap, Hamlin went to the inside of Elliott in the dogleg for third. Blaney ran fifth followed by Newman, Keselowski, Jones, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick.
Hamlin and Elliott made contact coming out of Turn 4 on Lap 270 and Elliott passed him for third bringing Blaney with him. On Lap 275, Hamlin slammed into the Turn 3 wall as the crowd roared.
“You ok,” the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team asked Hamlin if he was ok. There was no reply before Hamlin climbed from the car.
Kenseth remained on the track with the lead followed by Truex, Elliott, Jones, Blaney, Newman, McMurray, Kurt Busch, Stenhouse, Bowyer and Suarez. Harvick, who pitted for service, lined up 12th followed Kyle Busch.
On the Lap 282 restart, Jones slowed and Newman plowed into the back of the No. 77 Toyota. Kurt Busch crinkled the front end of the No. 41 Ford after hitting Newman. Keselowski went high to avoid the wreck and dropped to 18th. Elliott moved up to second and set his sights on Kenseth. Truex dropped to third. Elliott went low and passed Kenseth through Turn 3 for the lead — and the crowd erupted again.
With 20 laps remaining, Elliott held a .649-second lead over Kenseth. Truex, Jones, McMurray, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Stenhouse, Almirola and Blaney rounded out the top 10.
Kenseth chased Elliott with 12 to go and changed his line coming through Turns 3 and 4. He came back down out of Turn 2 and took the lead on the backstretch on Lap 303. Elliott told the team the car was tight. Spotter Eddie D’Hondt replied, “We’re fighting for our lives.”
|3||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||312||1.358|
|8||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||312||4.730|
|10||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||312||7.267|
|19||5||Kasey Kahne||Chevrolet||311||1 lap|
|20||31||Ryan Newman||Chevrolet||311||1 lap|
|21||41||Kurt Busch||Ford||310||2 laps|
|22||95||Michael McDowell||Chevrolet||309||3 laps|
|23||47||A.J. Allmendinger||Chevrolet||309||3 laps|
|24||34||Landon Cassill||Ford||309||3 laps|
|25||10||Danica Patrick||Ford||309||3 laps|
|26||15||D.J. Kennington||Chevrolet||307||5 laps|
|27||32||Matt DiBenedetto||Ford||306||6 laps|
|28||66||David Starr||Chevrolet||305||7 laps|
|29||33||Jeffrey Earnhardt||Chevrolet||305||7 laps|
|30||7||Joey Gase||Chevrolet||304||8 laps|
|31||23||Corey Lajoie||Toyota||303||9 laps|
|32||00||Derrike Cope||Chevrolet||302||10 laps|
|33||38||David Ragan||Ford||301||11 laps|
|34||51||Kyle Weatherman||Chevrolet||294||18 laps|
|35||11||Denny Hamlin||Toyota||275||37 laps||191|
|36||72||Cole Whitt||Chevrolet||258||54 laps|
|37||37||Chris Buescher||Chevrolet||247||65 laps|
|38||6||Trevor Bayne||Ford||226||86 laps|
|39||48||Jimmie Johnson||Chevrolet||148||164 laps|
|40||42||Kyle Larson||Chevrolet||104||208 laps||11|