Brad Keselowski appeared to be on a championship run late in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway.
Struggling for much of the race and running in the back of the pack, Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe continually worked on the car, gaining track position as the closing laps approached.
When a string of late-race restarts bunched up the field, the intensity at the front of the field ratcheted up a notch as drivers fought for every position. On the final restart of the day, Keselowski was spun when Dale Earnhardt Jr. got together with Denny Hamlin, who made contact in the left rear of Keselowski's car.
With NASCAR not opting to throw the caution for his spin, Keselowski dropped to 17th when the checkered flag fell.
After what looked like a solid recovery and opportunity to gain on the championship, Keselowski fell one spot in the Chase standings, 27 points behind Carl Edwards.
"That's just this style of racing," Keselowski said. "You can't control your own fate. The car came to us, the track came to us. They guys had a good plan. Our Miller Lite Dodge was a top-10 car. We came up a few laps short."
Crew chief Paul Wolfe admitted Sunday's race was "a lot of hard work" and the "car wasn't what it needed to be" in the opening stages of the race.
Using air pressure and track bar adjustments, Wolfe said it was just small things throughout the entire course of the day that turned the No. 2 team's day around.
"We worked hard on it and finally found ourselves back in the front where we thought we should be," he said. "Really, the second half of the race we were right up there as a top-five car, top-10 at worst. It's just so hard on these restarts when you get lined up on the outside. He did a good job on that last restart and it looked like we were going to be good, and the 88 (Earnhardt Jr.) got into the 11 (Hamlin). Just a chain reaction and they got into us.
"Just frustrating," Wolfe added. "This was a day we really worked our butts off and we made progress. We were doing what we needed to do to gain points, and then it all went away."