Championship 4 set following Round of 8 finale at Phoenix

Championship 4 set following Round of 8 finale at Phoenix

That means Keselowski must finish ahead of Hamlin in the race results, and Keselowski finished Stage 2 in 13th.

After dominating the race to that point, Hamlin retired from the race in the final 50 laps after contact with Elliott gave him a tire rub that led to a blown tires, sending his auto hard into the wall. Hamlin would lead a whopping 193 laps and set the pace most of the day. Elliott bumped Hamlin twice on his bumper, as a warning of sorts, before ultimately making contact when he passed them. The 2003 NASCAR champion is a two-time Daytona 500 victor and consistent playoff driver, but he's 45 and being replaced at Joe Gibbs Racing next season by Erik Jones. Keselowski finished 16th, and while Chase Elliott finished second, Keselowski's points advantage proved enough.

Twice in the Round of 8, Chase Elliott saw his chances of reaching the NASCAR Cup Series championship race go out the window with 10 laps or less remaining. He was in position to race for the final playoff spot when Elliott ran him up the track. Still, this win is a nice send-off for the former champion.

"I raced him how raced me". "I got into him and he chose to retaliate".

Not long after winning the opening stage, Larson wound up in the garage, retired from the race because of an engine issue.

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"It's a crappy way to end the season", Larson said. "It's a little disappointing and definitely a bad time of year to have that stuff happen".

35 laps to go: Denny Hamlin's chances of advancing go up in smoke as his tire blows and his vehicle slams the wall.

He was able to climb from his auto and walk to a waiting ambulance for a mandatory check in the care center. Scalding hot brake rotors from Chris Buescher's auto flew in between the SAFER barriers on the outside wall as Buescher had a mechanical failure that caused an accident. The hot parts caused the Styrofoam to catch fire in two different parts of the wall.

FIRE BREAK: The race was briefly red-flagged with 58 laps remaining when an accident involving Chris Buescher caused two different fires. Sunday's victory could easily be the last of his career, and next weekend's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway could be his last altogether. The highest finishing driver of the four contenders will win the championship.

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