Matt Kenseth won’t be racing in the Cup Series next season, and he’s no longer in the playoffs. But that didn’t stop him from racing to win, and he took home the victory at Phoenix International Raceway in what is likely his next-to-last race as a full-time driver.
Kenseth, 45, is being replaced next season by Erik Jones at Joe Gibbs Racing, and while he qualified for the playoffs, he was eliminated after the last round.
But it was undoubtedly a special moment for Kenseth, and he was very emotional after the race.
Kenseth’s teammate, Kyle Busch, congratulated him after the win.
Kenseth passed Chase Elliott with 10 laps to go and held him off for his first win of the season and the 39th win of his career. Kenseth said after
“I don’t know what to say except for thank the Lord,” Kenseth said. “It’s been an amazing journey. I know I’m a big baby right now. I’ve just got one race left. Everybody dreams of going out a winner, so we won today and no one can take that away from us. It was a heckuva race with Chase.”
Elliott was contending for a spot in the championship race and searching for his first career win, and he congratulated Kenseth for the victory after the race was over.
Brad Keselowski advanced instead of Elliott, joining Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick in the final four at Homestead.
Kyle Larson won the first stage, while Denny Hamlin won Stage 2. Both drivers were eliminated due to engine failure and a blown tire, respectively.
Truex finished third behind Elliott, followed by Erik Jones and Harvick. Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Aric Almirola and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top 10.
Sunday’s championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway will start at 2:30 p.m. ET.