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Hamlin eliminated from playoffs, Keselowski advances

13 November, 2017, 02:24 | Author: Joan Malone
  • Kurt Busch Gerald Wayne ‘Jerry’ Grant

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.

Hamlin led for 193 laps on Sunday and was in position to make a run for the win when he saw the 21-year-old Elliott come up on his bumper in the Final Stage. Hamlin hesitated pulling out of his pit stop, not getting a signal when pit service was completed. Elliott could have advanced to the final round for a victory but ended in second place. Elliott's contact eventually led to Hamlin brushing the wall, and Hamlin's tire developed a rub.

After the red flag to extinguish the fire, Elliott started marching to the front and had his run-in with Hamlin.

Hamlin stays out, as does Kenseth (first), Elliott (fourth), Blaney (fifth) and Keselowski (seventh).

Brad Keselowski now holds the fourth spot heading into the race.

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Hamlin leads in the final 100 laps, though the cars have not yet pitted in the final segment. The 15th-place finish is the lowest in his last five races, but it's not Sunday at Phoenix that matters in the hunt for a title. Keselowski finished 16th, and while Chase Elliott finished second, Keselowski's points advantage proved enough. He also led more than half of the opening stage.

Stage 2 will end on Lap 150. Larson was eliminated from the playoffs when his engine blew at Kansas, but he can still play spoiler by stealing the stage points other drivers so desperately need.

The final race of the season comes next Sunday with the Ford Ecoboost 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"Our mindset coming into this weekend was really trying to win the race and sitting on the pole my mindset doesn't change", said Blaney. A win would lock him into the championship race automatically.

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