The balance has returned to the force, at least in NASCAR. Martin Truex Jr. become a familiar winner in NASCAR’s Cup series Sunday holding off Joey Logano to win his first race of the season and his first at Phoenix Raceway.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver led 64 of the 312 laps taking the lead for the final time after a restart for the races seventh and final caution with 25 laps to go. Once getting by Logano, Truex was able to stretch out his lead winning by 1.698 of a second.
“I thought at the beginning of the race we were going to run 15th or so,” Truex said. “Man, I can’t really believe it, I’m kind of speechless. This feels pretty amazing, you know? Phoenix has been a tough one for us and to come here and win this, I wish it was November, but hopefully we can come back here in November and have a shot at being in the Final Four.”
Logano, who led the most laps on the day, 143, and won Stage 2 was first off pit road during the final stops but could only watch in the closing laps as Truex drove away.
“I was surprised he was able to hang with me on that start,” Logano said.”I felt like he had a good start too, but I had a good one on the bottom and I thought the amount I short-cutted it in the dogleg I thought, ‘Boy, I’m going to have him cleared,’ and then we went in the corner it was still door-to-door and when you’re door-to-door the outside car has control of you.
“I’m pretty sure even if I beat him on that start he was still going to hound me and probably get by me. They had the best car. They tuned it in. We had a good car, for sure, but once they tuned it in toward the end of the second stage that was the best car on the racetrack.”
Denny Hamlin was third with Brad Keselowski fourth. Chase Elliott, who won his first Cup title at this track last November started in the back of the field after failing pre-race inspection and had a speeding penalty during pit stops on lap 200, came home fifth.
Truex struggled early in the race tagging the wall at one point. But he was able to rebound finishing second behind Logano in Stage 2 which ended on lap 190.
Kevin Harvick rebounded from a 20th place finish last week at Vegas to finish sixth. Kyle Larson overcame starting at the rear of the field after failing pre-race inspection and two speeding penalties including one during green flag stops, to finish seventh. Homestead winner William Byron was eighth, and Daytona Road Course winner Christopher Bell was ninth.
Ryan Blaney picked up his first Stage win of the season winning Stage 1 after leading 35 laps. He would fade in the second half of the race however and rounded out the top 10.
The win for Truex is the 28th of his career his first at Phoenix and his first win since Martinsville last June, 29 races ago. He admitted that after his trouble in the early part of the race he knew he had a great deal of work to do.
“A lot,” he said. “About lap 67, I hit the fence off of turn two. Our car was super tight to start off the race. It wasn’t any good at all.
“To hit the fence, to go to the back, to fix it, to make some huge adjustments and for us to be able to run as good as we did at the end there, I’m speechless.”
NASCAR heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway next with the Cup series racing Sunday with the green flag dropping at 3:00 p.m.
NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Instacart 500
Sunday, March 14, 2021
- (5) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 312.
- (9) Joey Logano, Ford, 312.
- (3) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 312.
- (1) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 312.
- (6) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 312.
- (18) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 312.
- (2) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 312.
- (10) William Byron, Chevrolet, 312.
- (4) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 312.
- (8) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 312.
- (32) Aric Almirola, Ford, 312.
- (11) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 312.
- (21) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 312.
- (20) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 312.
- (12) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 312.
- (25) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 312.
- (13) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 312.
- (17) Chris Buescher, Ford, 312.
- (22) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 312.
- (14) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 312.
- (27) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 312.
- (26) Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 312.
- (16) Michael McDowell, Ford, 312.
- (29) Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, 312.
- (7) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 311.
- (15) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 311.
- (33) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 311.
- (19) Ryan Newman, Ford, 311.
- (23) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 310.
- (30) BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 309.
- (24) Cole Custer, Ford, 308.
- (35) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 305.
- (38) James Davison, Chevrolet, 303.
- (34) Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 300.
- (36) Josh Bilicki, Ford, Power Steering, 258.
- (31) Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 101.
- (28) Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, Accident, 87.
- (37) Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, Engine, 15.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 103.808 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 0 Mins, 20 Secs. Margin of Victory: 1.698 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 7 for 45 laps.
Lead Changes: 22 among 9 drivers.
Lap Leaders: B. Keselowski 1-2;D. Hamlin 3-33;B. Keselowski 34-43;R. Blaney 44-78;B. Keselowski 79;J. Logano 80-141;K. Larson 142;B. Wallace 143;C. LaJoie 144-155;J. Logano 156-193;D. Hamlin 194;J. Logano 195-223;M. Truex Jr. 224-253;R. Stenhouse Jr. 254;M. Truex Jr. 255-263;D. Hamlin 264;B. Wallace 265-267;J. Logano 268;B. Keselowski 269-273;J. Logano 274-283;B. Keselowski 284;J. Logano 285-287;M. Truex Jr. 288-312.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Joey Logano 6 times for 143 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 3 times for 64 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 35 laps; Denny Hamlin 3 times for 33 laps; Brad Keselowski 5 times for 19 laps; Corey LaJoie 1 time for 12 laps; Bubba Wallace 2 times for 4 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1 time for 1 lap; Kyle Larson 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 12,22,2,11,9,18,4,24,5,21
Stage #2 Top Ten: 22,19,11,2,12,4,24,10,9,20
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