Kyle Busch rallies to pass Chase Elliott for Dover win; playoff field cut to 12

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In one of the season’s most thrilling finishes, Kyle Busch passed Chase Elliott coming to the white flag to win Sunday’s Apache Warrior 400 at Dover International Speedway.

“This is the moment you live for, the moment we all live for,” Busch told NBCSN in victory lane.

Elliott appeared headed for his first career Cup win but got bottled up in traffic, allowing Busch to pass for the win. Elliott finished second — for the third time this season.

MORE: Ryan Newman confronts Jeff Gordon after race 

MORE: Results, stats for Dover playoff elimination race

MORE: Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne eliminated from playoffs

“I can’t say enough about Chase,” Busch said. “He’s an awesome competitor, great kid, great friend. This was a hard fought one. I know Chase is hungry, he’s been trying to get his first Cup Series win. But I saw that carrot hanging out there and I was going to get it, I gave it everything I had.”

MORE: Results, stats for Dover playoff elimination race

MORE: Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne eliminated from playoffs

But the plaudits from Busch were little consolation to Elliott.

“I gave it away,” Elliott said. “When you look back, obviously I may have done something different, but I didn’t.”

Busch has won two playoff races in a row, having captured last week’s race at New Hampshire. He adds another five playoff points to his total.

Post-race penalties: Two cars failed post-race inspection: the No. 14 of Clint Bowyer and the No. 77 of Erik Jones, both for having one unsecured lug nut on their respective cars. One unsecured lug nut results in a crew chief fine pf $10,000. Penalties will likely be assessed in the next couple of days.

Stage winners: Brad Keselowski (Stage 1), Kyle Larson (Stage 2).

Who else had a good race: Even though he once again fell short of winning his first career Cup race, Elliott has nothing to hang his head about, finishing second. …. While it wasn’t a great finish in the big scheme of things, 19th-place finisher Ricky Stenhouse Jr. did what he needed to do to advance in the playoffs.

Who had a bad race: Ryan Newman (13th), Kasey Kahne (14th), Austin Dillon (16th) and Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch (20th) failed to advance to the second round of the playoffs. … With 25 laps left in the race, Denny Hamlin suffered a broken axle. He finished 35th.

Notable: While so much attention was focused on which drivers would be eliminated, three non-playoff drivers had strong runs: Clint Bowyer (finished sixth), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (seventh) and Daniel Suarez (eighth).

Quote of the Day: “I’m so disappointed in myself. Golly, I couldn’t have had it easier, from the stage break to the end and I just gave it away. My team kept us in the ballgame and I didn’t.” – Runner-up Chase Elliott.

What’s next: Bank of America 500, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2 p.m. ET, Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Follow @JerryBonkowski