Ryan Blaney took home first place in a chaotic finish in the Bank of America Roval 400 as the Monster Energy Series playoffs were whittled from 16 drivers down to 12.
Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr. crashed in the final moments to clear space for the No. 12 car, which surprisingly became the first to cross the finish line.
Blaney also earned an automatic spot in the next round, joining Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski as playoff winners as the next round of the postseason begins.
Johnson finished in eighth but was eliminated as a result of the collision, along with Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones.
1. Ryan Blaney (12)
2. Jamie McMurray (1)
3. Clint Bowyer (14)
4. Alex Bowman (88)
5. Kurt Busch (41)
6. Chase Elliott (9)
7. AJ Allmendinger (47)
8. Jimmie Johnson (48)
9. Kevin Harvick (4)
10. Joey Logano (22)
Full results available at NASCAR.com.
Johnson and Truex were battling for a win before the No. 48 car spun out and took out its closest competitor. This finish and the playoff stakes led to quite a reaction from those watching along:
This crash came after another race-changing moment only a few laps earlier.
Keselowski and Kyle Larson were battling for the lead throughout most of the third stage until a restart with eight laps remaining. The leaders piled into the wall, causing a red flag. Keselowski, Busch and more were forced to pit for repairs:
Larson was heavily damaged but remained on the track as he tried to pick up points. This ended up making a major difference, as he and Aric Almirola advanced on a tiebreaker.
Blaney survived both major incidents and came through with the shocking win.
Sunday's race was the first Cup event on the road course in Charlotte, North Carolina, known as the Roval, and the uncertainty kept things interesting from the first lap.
Kurt Busch began on the pole, but it was Larson who took charge early on, and he turned that into a Stage 1 victory, the first for anyone on this course:
Blaney then made a big move in Stage 2 to take some key points as he tried to advance to the round of 12:
Heading into the final stage, the focus was as much on the cut line for the playoffs as it was on the leaders in the race. A win clinched a spot in the next round, but everyone else at the bottom of the standings knew every point mattered.
This was bad news for Austin Dillon, who crashed with 45 laps left to knock him out and alter the race:
Blaney, Alex Bowman and Clint Bowyer then grouped together on the course, along with in the standings, in the final few laps, with only a handful of points separating the trio looking for one spot in the next round.
Each of these drivers ended up advancing as the multiple wrecks opened things up for those who remained on the track.
The drama should only pick up in the upcoming week as we head into the second round of the playoffs. Drivers will try to clinch a spot in the third round with a win next Sunday at the Gander Outdoors 400 at Dover International Speedway.