While Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott got into each other in the closing laps, Kyle Busch was the real beneficiary of the conflict, almost quietly slipping by and then holding on for the win in Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
In earning his fifth win of 2017, Busch becomes the first driver to clinch a spot in the NASCAR Cup championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in three weeks. Three races remain in the season: next week at Texas, Phoenix in two weeks and then the season finale at Homestead-Miami.
Busch, who led a race-high 184 laps of the extended 505-lap, has now qualified for the playoffs for three consecutive seasons and he now has a chance of adding a second championship to the one he won in 2015.
Busch managed to carry on to the end despite having late-race contact with Joey Logano.
Martin Truex Jr. finished a close second, followed by Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. Sixth through 10th were Trevor Bayne, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Click here for full results from today’s race.