Matt Kenseth plays spoiler, wins Phoenix playoff race
Matt Kenseth passed Chase Elliott with 10 laps to go and held on to win the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway.
Kenseth, 45, ended a 51-race winless streak. The win came a week after Kenseth announced he did not have a ride secured for 2018 and that he would be taking a break from NASCAR racing.
It is his 39th Cup win.
“Yeah, baby!” Kenseth screamed on his radio after crossing the finish line. “I’m going to be the biggest crybaby you’ve ever seen.”
Kenseth beat Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones and Kevin Harvick.
“I don’t know what to say except for thank the Lord,” a tearful Kenseth told NBC at the start-finish line. “Had an amazing journey. I know I’m a big baby right now. Just got one race left. Everybody dreams of going out a winner. We won today. No one can take that from us. It was a heck of a race with Chase there. Golly, thanks to DeWalt, Circle K, Toyota, all our sponsors and (Joe Gibbs Racing) for a great five years. It’s been quite a journey.”
The win is Kenseth’s first since the July New Hampshire race last season. He had nine top fives this season entering Sunday.
“The way this year was going I wasn’t really expecting to win today,” Kenseth said. “This is a special one, it means a lot.”
Brad Keselowski clinched the final spot in the next week’s championship race. He joins Harvick, Kyle Busch and Truex.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Larson
STAGE 2 WINNER: Denny Hamlin
WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Chase Elliott led 34 laps before he was passed for the last time by Kenseth. Elliott finished second for the seventh time in his career, which ties the Cup record for runner-up finishes without a win. ... Martin Truex Jr. finished in the top three in every Round of 8 race ... Erik Jones earned his fifth top five of the year. ... Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 10th after bouncing back from a flat tire early in the race.
WHO HAD A BAD A DAY: Denny Hamlin’s day and championship hopes ended when he hit the wall in Turn 3 after losing a tire with 38 laps to go. The blown tire was caused by damage from contact with Chase Elliott a few laps before when they were fighting for third. … Kyle Larson finished last with his fourth DNF in a row after blowing an engine on Lap 104 …. Jimmie Johnson’s chances at a record eighth Cup title ended when he lost a tire and hit the turn 3 wall on the last lap of Stage 2. He finished 39th … Trevor Bayne finished 38th after a hard hit into the outside wall on the front stretch on Lap 229.
NOTABLE: The race was placed under the red flag for five minutes and three seconds on Lap 254 for two fires that broke out in the SAFER barrier from brake rotors off Chris Buescher’s car.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We probably had great speed at Martinsville, great execution at Texas and great luck today. You’d like to have all three of them on the same day.” - Brad Keselowski after clinching a spot in the championship race.
WHAT’S NEXT: The championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 19 (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC).