Awesome Sauce: Joey Logano overcomes adversity to win in Phoenix

AVONDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 08: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Cup Series FanShield 500 at Phoenix Raceway on March 08, 2020 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Joey Logano did it the hard way Sunday. The Team Penske driver overcame penalties and issues on pit road and held off Kevin Harvick in an overtime finish to win the FanShield 500 at Phoenix Raceway.

His 25th career win makes him the first repeat winner of 2020 and he has now scored wins in two of the first four wins of the season.

“That was a pretty intense last 30 minutes or hour of the race,” Logano said.  “A lot going on.  Couldn’t be more proud of this team.  Two wins already in the books.  We got to keep this thing rocking.”

Behind Harvick, Kyle Busch was third followed by Kyle Larson and Clint Bowyer in fifth.

Logano led a total of 60 of the 316 laps was took the lead from his teammate Brad Keselowski for the final time on lap 293.  He then held off Harvick on a restart with 4 laps to go after a spin from Ross Chastain on lap 304. Then held the lead on the overtime restart which came after Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and John Hunter Nemechek got together deep in the field and spun to bring out the races twelfth and final caution.

The Cup series will return to Phoenix one more time, in November. And for the first time it will be the final race of the season to determine the champion, making Sunday’s race a learning experience.

“Everybody learned something out there today just whether it’s racing, the way this traction compound is, the awesome sauce up there, how that worked out, played throughout the race,” Logano said.  “There’s a lot learned, for sure.”

The victory for Logano came after he was penalized on lap 134 for an uncontrolled tire and sent to the tail of the field.  He fought his way back but while pitting under caution for a spin by Tyler Reddick on lap 265, the jack failed, and the crew was forced to grab a backup. Logano restarted outside the top 10 but was able to claw his way back to the lead on lap 293.

“We tried everything we could to regain our track position and get control back of the race,” Logano said. “I knew that last restart was going to be crazy…  It was cool to see two Fords on the front row at the end of a race like that.  This is a motor racetrack as much as we don’t think it is. Proud of the team effort today to make this one come.”

Harvick led 67 laps, won Stage 2 but had to settle for second.

“He just had control of the race,” Harvick said.  “After we pitted there, I got stuck behind a couple of cars there, lost five or six spots.  He got by and got control of the race.  He got to restart where he wanted to.”

Kurt Busch was sixth, and Chase Elliott was able to rally back from a lap down to finish seventh.  Elliott led the most laps 93 and won Stage 1 but had to pit under green on lap 157. He came back out 29th one lap down. His Hendrick Motorsports crew then elected to keep him out when several of the leaders pitted on lap 265 after Tyler Reddick crashed.

He then pitted again, this time for fresher tires during a caution on lap 277 for Chris Buescher who smacked the wall.  He came out 14th and came back for a hard-earned seventh place finish.

“We will build off of it for sure,” Elliott said. “Kevin (Harvick) was probably a tick- better than us I thought. But we’ll go to work.”

Aric Almirola, Cole Custer and William Byron rounded out the top 10.

Brad Keselowski who led the second most laps on the day, 82, faded at the end and had to settle for an 11th place.

Ryan Blaney, the points leader coming into the day saw his race end early.  On lap 65 while racing behind Denny Hamlin and Keselowski entering turn 3. Keselowski came down into Hamlin sending Hamlin back up into Blaney who was then sent into the wall and to the garage.  Blaney finished 37th and fell to sixth in the points.

“It sucks to have it end so early like that and have that happen so early in the race,” Blaney said.

Martin Truex Jr. also had a premature ending to his day. After starting the back due to an engine change, Truex fought his way forward and led 11 laps.  On the restart with 30 laps to go and while battling for position, Truex was sent hard into the wall and was out of the race. He was scored 32nd.

“I just got ran over,” Truex said putting the blame on Aric Almirola who was behind him. “He ran into the back of me earlier getting into (turn) one. I hung on to it. These restarts are crazy, it’s fanned out. The 48 (Jimmie Johnson) was in front of me. I wasn’t sure if he was going to come up in front of me on the short shoot or not. Then the 10 (Almirola) ran into us. Can’t finish a race, it sucks.”

The NASCAR Cup series heads back to the East coast and Atlanta Motor Speedway next Sunday.
NASCAR Cup Series Race Results FanShield 500

Phoenix Raceway

Avondale, Arizona

Sunday, March 8, 2020

1. (13)  Joey Logano, Ford, 316.

2. (2)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 316.

3. (10)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 316.

4. (4)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 316.

5. (18)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, 316.

6. (7)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 316.

7. (1)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 316.

8. (6)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 316.

9. (16)  Cole Custer #, Ford, 316.

10. (17)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 316.

11. (14)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 316.

12. (21)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 316.

13. (9)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 316.

14. (8)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 316.

15. (25)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 316.

16. (22)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 316.

17. (23)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 316.

18. (20)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 316.

19. (27)  Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 316.

20. (3)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 316.

21. (31)  Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 316.

22. (19)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 316.

23. (24)  Ross Chastain(i), Ford, 316.

24. (15)  Christopher Bell #, Toyota, 316.

25. (26)  John Hunter Nemechek #, Ford, 316.

26. (33)  JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 316.

27. (28)  Corey LaJoie, Ford, 316.

28. (11)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 313.

29. (37)  Joey Gase(i), Chevrolet, 313.

30. (35)  Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 312.

31. (32)  Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, Electrical, 292.

32. (12)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, Accident, 282.

33. (29)  Tyler Reddick #, Chevrolet, Accident, 264.

34. (34)  Quin Houff #, Chevrolet, Accident, 208.

35. (36)  Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, Engine, 181.

36. (30)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 129.

37. (5)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, Accident, 65.

38. (38)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, Engine, 51.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  94.407 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 20 Mins, 50 Secs. Margin of Victory:  .276 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  12 for 73 laps.

Lead Changes:  20 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   C. Elliott 1-60;K. Harvick 61-91;C. Elliott 92-102;K. Harvick 103-132;C. Elliott 133-137;M. Truex Jr. 138-140;C. Elliott 141-155;B. Keselowski 156-193;C. Buescher 194;B. Keselowski 195-215;C. Elliott 216;M. Truex Jr. 217-224;J. Logano 225-250;K. Harvick 251-254;C. Elliott 255;K. Harvick 256-257;J. Logano 258-267;B. Keselowski 268-271;K. Larson 272-273;B. Keselowski 274-292;J. Logano 293-316.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Chase Elliott 6 times for 93 laps; Brad Keselowski 4 times for 82 laps; Kevin Harvick 4 times for 67 laps; Joey Logano 3 times for 60 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 2 times for 11 laps; Kyle Larson 1 time for 2 laps; Chris Buescher 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 4,9,22,21,18,88,19,10,8,20

Stage #2 Top Ten: 2,4,19,8,18,10,22,14,42,41