AVONDALE, Ariz. – Joey Logano survived multiple late-race restarts to earn his second NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season Sunday afternoon at Phoenix Raceway.
The victory in the FanShield 500 was far from easy for Logano, who had to overcome an uncontrolled tire penalty during a pit stop early in the race as well as a a slow pit stop due to a broken jack late in the race.
In both instances Logano raced his way back through the field, eventually coming out on top to earn his 25th NASCAR Cup Series victory.
“We had more things go wrong today. Unfortunate situation with the jack braking. No one’s fault,” Logano said. “That was a pretty intense last 30 minutes or hour of the race. A lot going on. Couldn’t be more proud of this team. Two wins already in the books. We’ve got to keep this thing rocking.”
The mayhem started with 60 laps left when Erik Jones spun into the turn two wall to bring out the caution flag. Kevin Harvick, the leader at the time, led most of the field down pit road for fresh tires. He retained the lead during the pit stops, with Logano following him off pit road in second.
When racing resumed with 55 laps left Logano was able to get around Harvick to take the race lead in turn one. Logano continued to lead until the next caution flag waved with 48 laps left when rookie Tyler Reddick crashed in turn two.
During the caution period most of the leaders pitted again for fresh tires, with Logano leading them down pit road. Harvick got off pit road first among those that pitted, with Logano falling back through the field because of a broken jack during his stop.
Meanwhile, Brad Keselowski had inherited the race lead by deciding to stay out during the caution period. When racing resumed Keselowski quickly found himself fighting polesitter Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson for the lead, with Larson briefly taking the lead before Keselowski got back by him.
Keselowski was still the lead when the next caution flag waved with 36 laps left when Chris Buescher crashed in turn one. Yet again several leaders hit pit road, with second-place Kyle Busch leading several drivers to the pits.
When racing resumed with 30 laps left Keselowski was still the leader and he was followed by Clint Bowyer and Logano, who made his way to third. The restart was brief, as Martin Truex Jr. hit the wall in turn one after contact with Aric Almirola to bring the caution flag right back out.
Racing resumed again shortly thereafter and again Keselowski maintained the lead on his older tires, but it wouldn’t be for long. Logano had made his way to second during the restart and was all over his teammate as they battled for the lead.
With 20 laps left Logano made his move, looking to Keselowski’s inside and clearing him in turn three to take the lead. Logano’s lead was erased with nine laps left when Ross Chastain spun just past the start/finish line.
The ensuing restart with four laps left had Logano leading Harvick, Busch and Larson. Keselowski, who was running third, opted to pit for fresh tires during the caution period.
The green flag waved and Logano quickly darted out into the lead, but the caution flag came back out moments later as several cars got together deeper in the pack. Rookie John Hunter Nemechek and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. both spun during the incident.
That set up a green/white/checkered restart with Logano leading Harvick, Larson and Busch. Logano was quick to pull clear of Harvick in turn one, but Harvick stayed right behind him coming to the white flag.
Harvick tried, but couldn’t get close enough to Logano to challenge him for the race lead on the final lap. Logano held on for his second win of the season and second at Phoenix Raceway.
Sunday’s event could prove pivotal for Logano and the rest of the field as the series champion will be crowned at Phoenix Raceway for the first time later this season.
“Everybody learned something out there today just whether it’s racing, the way this traction compound is, the awesome sauce (PJ1) up there, how that worked out, played throughout the race,” Logano said. “There’s a lot learned, for sure. We learned that this No. 22 Shell‑Pennzoil Ford team is just stout and is not going to get beat if we have the opportunity.”
Harvick, a nine-time Phoenix winner, settled for second despite feeling he had the better car.
“He just had control of the race,” Harvick said of Logano. “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. Our Jimmy John’s Ford was better, especially when we could put it in front of his. We just didn’t get the control of the race back there, and he was able to get by us on that restart where I got hung up.”
Busch was third at the checkered flag, followed by Larson and Bowyer.
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