All was going well for Larson on Sunday, as he was about to score a solid result in the race to move on to the Round of 8. Then everything changed with 12 laps remaining. That is when he made contact with the wall in Turns 5 and 6 which broke the toe link on his No. 5 Chevrolet.

Larson had to dive onto pit road so his team could make repairs, but even after they worked their magic, he returned to the track in 35th position. Suddenly, drivers below him in the playoff standings were gaining ground, and when the checkered flag waved, he found himself two points below the cut line. In the blink of an eye, Larson's season went down the drain.

That has been the common theme this season, as teams and drivers try to get a handle on the NextGen car. After winning ten races and dominating the field last season, Larson found victory lane just twice this year. He led just 368 laps this year, compared to 2,581 last season. It was a lackluster year for the defending champ, and one that was littered with mistakes.

"I just made way too many mistakes all year long," Larson said. "Made another one today that ultimately cost us an opportunity to go chase another championship. Just extremely mad at myself. I let the team down a number of times this year, and let them down in a big way today."

"There's definitely no other person to blame but myself for today. I feel like our team put us in position as well as we could on points. Got as many stage points as we could. I think it was plus 27 or 28 at the time when I screwed up. Just for no reason, either. I wasn’t even pushing that hard at that moment. I just have to be better, make a lot less mistakes."

Larson had six DNFs this season and his 14.4 average finishing position was his second-worst since the 2016 season. "It’s frustrating to end like this, but as up and down as I was this season, I’m not surprised I made another mistake, and a costly one at an important time. It’s tough to have a championship-caliber team and know you’re not going to be able to go race for a championship."

Hendrick Motorsports now has only Chase Elliott and William Byron in the Round of 8 as both Larson and Alex Bowman were eliminated today. Bowman has missed the last two races as he recovers from the concussion he suffered in the race at Texas. The organization is seeking their third consecutive Cup championship.