AVONDALE, Ariz. - Kyle Busch moved to the lead for a final time with 36 laps to go, survived a couple of late restarts, and went on to win the Can-Am 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at ISM Raceway in Avondale on Sunday, Nov. 11.
The victory secured the Joe Gibbs Racing driver a berth in next weekend's four-driver, season-ending, championship-deciding race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in South Florida.
"I certainly would like to think so," Busch, who won for the eighth time in 2018, said when asked if he felt he could add a second career championship at Homestead. "What a day. What a race."
Joining him in the championship event as a result of the sunny afternoon of racing near Phoenix were defending series champion Furniture Row Racing's Martin Truex Jr. (who finished 14th Sunday) and Kevin Harvick (fifth) of Stewart-Haas Racing.
Both were, along with Busch, members of the so-called Big Three of 2018 as they have won 20 of 35 races.
Joey Logano of Team Penske started the day with his playoff berth in hand as a result of winning at Martinsville two weeks ago.
Finishing second Sunday was non-contender Brad Keselowski of Team Penske, while Chip Ganassi Racing's Kyle Larson took third.
The final 45 laps loomed large in the fight to earn berths in the final four.
On a restart with 44 laps remaining, Kurt Busch of SHR, just a point in front of Harvick in the fight for the final berth, wrecked to end his shot at a second career championship.
Also involved in the wreck was contender Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports. Both Busch and Elliott had led double-digits laps at ISM and had shots at advancing.
"Got pinned on the outside wall (by a loose Denny Hamlin)," said Kurt Busch, who added that he had one of his fastest-ever cars at ISM. "Denny came out of nowhere and cleaned us out."