While leading the First Data 500 at the Martinsville Speedway with only three laps remaining, Dawsonville’s Chase Elliott was bumped from behind by Denny Hamlin.
That contact sent Elliott up the the narrow, paperclip track and into the wall and out of a win.
Elliott, who had led the race for 123 laps, was not only put out of a win but also out of any kind of top finish in the first race of the Round of 8 in the Monster Energy Cup Series playoffs. He ended in 27th.
The NAPA Autoparts No. 24 Chevrolet had run well all day for Elliott as he posted a sixth place finish in Stage One and a fifth place finish in Stage Two after starting the race in third.
In playoff finishes he had been only second to Martin Truex Jr.
Despite some minor front bumper damage early on, Elliott raced aggressively throughout.
After leading for 90 laps, a bump by Brad Keselowski resulted in smoke emerging from his back left quarter panel. Elliott was able to continue with minor adjustments during a pit stop and 35 laps remaining.
Keselowski was able to take the lead with 29 laps left, but continued the aggressive pursuit of the front.
After a Joey Logano spin out with nine laps left to race, a caution flag waved but both Keselowski and Elliott stayed on the track and the restart came with four laps left.
A successful restart saw Elliott out front and Hamlin beginning to challenge. After Hamlin was unable to sneak past Elliott down low, he went into his bumper at turn three.
The wreck sent the race to overtime where Busch was able to capture the checkered flag followed by Truex Jr. and another large wreck that affected a large part of the remaining field.
Following the race, Elliott pulled alongside Hamlin and sideswiped the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota a couple of times to show his disdain.
Hamlin would get out of his car and approach Elliott for a heated exchange. The crowed booed Hamlin as he gave his post-race interview.
Hamlin later issued an apology via Twitter.
A win would have automatically qualified Elliott for the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Now he is 26 points behind the cutoff.
Next up is the AAA Texas 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway
at 2 p.m. on Nov. 5. The race will be broadcast on NBCSN.