Suddenly and without warning, Denny Hamlin's No. 11 Toyota lost power late in the race, finally stopping on the frontstretch on Lap 391 of 500 and causing the eighth caution of the afternoon.
The culprit was a broken bolt on the master switch -- a freakish failure that shut the car off. Hamlin lost 34 laps in the garage as his team repaired the problem. He finished 33rd and dropped to fifth in the standings, 49 points behind Johnson, and, in his mind, out of the running for the championship.
"It's the little things that get us," Hamlin said. "I've been in these Chases for seven years, and I've had my fair share of electrical issues and motor issues and things like that.
"All I can do is just drive my heart out, and it it's not meant to be, it's not meant to be. We'll have our time. It's just our time is not now."