Kyle Busch wins pole for playoff race at Phoenix

Denny Hamllin is the best active NASCAR driver without a title. Is this his year

Denny Hamllin is the best active NASCAR driver without a title. Is this his year

Elliott, Daytona 500 victor Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney were the four drivers trying to move back into title contention outside of Phoenix.

The abrupt deterioration of the handling of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford hastened the defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion's exit from the lead lap in Sunday's Bluegreen Vacations 500 at ISM Raceway and ultimately from this year's title picture.

He called his shot and delivered.

He stayed in the direct for a several laps - assisted by the cleaner air with no other autos around - but the moment the pack caught up Logano did not have a probability. "There's still work to be done".

"If we do, we have a chance next week". Denny Hamlin received on Sunday to leapfrog Logano for the ultimate place in the four-vehicle championship spherical.

Hamlin, who had been bad on restarts the entire race, punched his steering wheel in anger when the yellow flag waved. "These last three weeks have been rough". He led a race-high 143 laps, and held off his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch, over the closing laps to secure the win.

"I thought I got an OK start, but the 18 (Busch) got a better one and got inside of me, and, honestly, the top is so dominant, especially if you're on two, you're kind of just sliding up from the bottom, and he (Hamlin) was obviously the best vehicle all day". He jumped into the arms of his waiting crew, which he had promised earlier Sunday to give his all in an effort to make the championship field at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion struggled with the handling in his No. 22 Ford Mustang after battling eventual race victor Denny Hamlin for the lead.

"I don't get it, but it just wasn't our year I guess".

Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick have both already locked themselves into the final four, and six drivers are vying for the final two positions.

"I feel like we are all here because we worked together", said Truex.

Of the title contenders, only Hamlin has never won a championship.

Larson finished fourth on Sunday and - like Blaney - had a chance to get near the lead thanks to the late caution.

"Denny has not won a championship, so you can imagine how hard he's going to go for it", said Gibbs. Logano was seeking a chance to make it back-to-back titles but had a mechanical problem early in the final stage that dropped him deep into the field.

Logano had a single of the strongest vehicles and vans within the trade by the first fifty % of the race, main 93 laps and profitable the second section.

"It hurts", Logano stated. "We'll live. Everything is going to be OK". We're still fortunate to be here and get to do what we love.

Logano was amid the 4 motorists - similar to Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott - who didn't advance to subsequent week's championship spherical at Homestead.

Larson, Elliott and Blaney likely need to win to advance to the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"Yeah, it's just a continuation of our first two weeks, unfortunately", said Elliott, who finished 36th at Martinsville and 32nd at Texas in the previous two Round of 8 races.

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