Heading into the last restart of the day at Martinsville, Brad Keselowski was sitting in sixth place. Simple maintenance of the position meant a probable four point gain on points leader Carl Edwards and a minimal deficit entering the final three races of the season.
Instead, Keselowski saw his race fortunes sour in turn one after he spun around after being hit by Denny Hamlin after Hamlin got hit by Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the two went for the same real-estate into the turn.
As Keselowski went spinning, NASCAR didn't throw a caution after throwing 18 throughout the previous 497 laps. That meant that he finished 17th, eight positions behind Edwards.
The decision to not throw a caution was one that a dejected Keselowski agreed with after the race on Twitter. He didn't hit the wall and was out of the racing groove as the field drove by. However, the proverbial damage had already been done thanks to the loss of positions.
Now, Keselowski is 27 points behind Edwards in fourth, the same position he was in before Martinsville. But at this point, the points may mean more than the drivers in between he and Edwards.
The clock certainly hasn't run out for Keselowski -- 27 points is just nine points a race -- but Sunday's late spin was a potential 15 point swing. Those may prove pivotal.