Chase Elliott was in position for a shocking first win to advance to the NASCAR championship race, but Matt Kenseth had other plans as he reigned supreme on Sunday.
Kenseth, who is without a seat next season, passed Elliott with 10 laps remaining and held on for the win, dashing the latter's only hope to triumph and advance to next week's championship battle at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19.
Elliott led until Kenseth earned the lead on Lap 303. The former finished second, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones and Kevin Harvick.
Thanks to Kenseth's late pass, Brad Keselowski advanced to the title race along with Kyle Busch, Harvick, and Truex.
Elliott took the lead away from Kenseth after wrecking Denny Hamlin out of the race with just under 50 laps to go.
Seeking payback from Martinsville, Elliott battered Hamlin's bumper with 43 laps remaining.
Hamlin slammed into the wall on Lap 274, causing considerable damage to the number 11, ending his day.
Jimmie Johnson's quest for record eighth championship ended with just one lap remaining in stage two.
Johnson cut a tire and crashed in turn four on lap 149, bringing out the first caution flag of the day.
He entered the race in last position in the playoff standings and needed a win to advance to the championship showdown at Homestead.
Johnson will have to wait until next season to surpass NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty on the all-time championships list with eight titles.
Fan favourite Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 10th in his second-to-last Cup Series race of his career. Earnhardt, winless since taking the chequered flag at Phoenix in 2015, will have an emotional week ahead of him as NASCAR says goodbye to another icon.
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