Kenseth Wins At Phoenix, Championship 4 Set | Bonehead Picks

Matt Kenseth Wins At Phoenix, Championship 4 Set

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The Can-Am 500 at Phoenix was the last chance for the five remaining drivers in the playoffs and the chance to race at Homestead for the championship. From Brad Keselowski to Jimmie Johnson, only one could get in either by points or by winning. There were only five leaders throughout the entire race and three were playoff contenders fighting for one last shot, but a series of unfortunate events could even cost non-playoff drivers one more win before Homestead.

Kyle Larson won Stage One leading the last 12 laps, but his engine blew up sending him to the garage for his fourth straight DNF. Besides Ryan Blaney leading from the pole the first eleven laps, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth had the biggest chance, and Kenseth was the only one who could prevent anyone from advancing. Hamlin won Stage Two, but winning for Kenseth would be huge as after 2017, he would have no ride so he made every lap count when necessary.

At the end of Stage Two, Johnson cut a tire and hit the wall eliminating him from his chance of winning his historic eighth championship. Hamlin led the most laps with 193 until he was beaten off pit road by Kenseth and then was caught by Elliott. Elliott got on Hamlin’s bumper and then he hit the wall eventually cutting his tire down and putting him out of the race and the playoffs. He led with 26 laps to go until Kenseth passed him and led the final nine to his first victory of the season.

Kenseth won for the first time in 51 races since New Hampshire of last season, and was the most emotional as up to this point he still doesn’t have a ride. It was the first time since two years ago on this same race that a non-playoff driver won. Dale Earnhardt Jr won the rain shortened race that year, when the next playoff run consisted of postseason winners. Kenseth’s win ended a streak of 19 consecutive victories by a playoff driver, but the lineup for the Championship 4 at Homestead is set.

Keselowski took the last spot finishing 16th after Hamlin went out.

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(Photo – Russell LaBounty/LAT Images)

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