Elimination Sunday more than lived up to the hype after Kyle Busch denied Chase Elliott his first-ever Monster Energy Cup Series win when he passed the 21-year old in the final moments at Dover International Speedway to take the checkered flag at the Apache Warrior 400.
With the victory, Busch took the top spot in his fourth race of the season and notched his 42nd career win (third at Dover). The capacity crowd was on pins and needles as Elliott's No. 24 Chevrolet SS tried to stave off Busch, whose No. 18 Toyota Camry was almost on his back bumper before the latter used the high lane to overtake the former going into the final two laps.
The full playoff standings are per NASCAR.com.
1. Martin Truex Jr. (3,059 points)
2. Kyle Busch (3,041 points)
3. Kyle Larson (3,034 points)
4. Brad Keselowski (3,020 points)
5. Jimmie Johnson (3,017 points)
6. Kevin Harvick (3,015 points)
7. Denny Hamlin (3,013 points)
8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (3,010 points)
9. Ryan Blaney (3,008 points)
10. Chase Elliott (3,006 points)
11. Matt Kenseth (3,005 points)
12. Jamie McMurray (3,003 points)
The remaining schedule for the 2017 playoffs can be found on NASCAR.com.
The three races in the Round of 12 begins with the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 8, followed by the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, Oct. 15, and the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on Oct. 22.
"This one's a hard fought one and I know Chase is hungry and I know he's been trying for a couple of years to get his first Cup series win, but I raced with him for a long, long time in late models and coming up through the ranks in the Xfinity series and now here in the Cup series and, man, I saw that carrot dangling out there and I was going to get it," Busch said on the television broadcast. "So I just gave it everything I had and fortunately it was enough. Great show for the fans here. With all the angst of me trying to catch him, I wasn't sure if I'd get there, but then finally being able to pull the move off and winning this thing with just a couple to go."
After doing donuts on the track, Busch acknowledged the crowd with his signature bow.
Heading into the cutoff race, three drivers were on the playoff bubble for tracking down that final spot to advance to the Round of 12: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman. With his 19th-place finish, seven stage points and getting the caution, Stenhouse Jr. advances and keeps his hope to make it all the way to Miami and have a shot at the championship alive.
Not surprisingly, Elliott was dejected at coming so close to his first trip to Victory Lane at Monster Mile but letting it slip away at the end.
"I'm just so disappointed in myself," Elliott said on the broadcast. "I couldn't have had it any easier from the stage break all the way to the end and I gave it away so I appreciate my team and their efforts today, my pit stops were great, they kept us in the ballgame and I didn't."