Chase Elliott cruises into NASCAR championship

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Kevin Harvick was on cruise control all season long, the most dominant driver in NASCAR, coasting into the championship round with a comfortable cushion that left plenty of room for error.

That’s how it was supposed to play out, at least, after Harvick won a Cup series-high nine races and the regular-season title.

Then his nearly perfect season came to a spinning and sudden halt Sunday when a mediocre run bounced Harvick from the playoffs in a stunning upset at Martinsville Speedway.

Chase Elliott won the high-stakes race to earn his first career berth in the championship four. It stopped Harvick one race short of the title round in a stunning collapse to a season spent as the favorite to win the Cup crown.

“We won nine races and had a great year. Just came up short,” Harvick said.

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