Logano wins 2nd race of season, takes checkered flag at Phoenix

MGN
By  | 

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Joey Logano expected a bump from Kevin Harvick in the two-lap overtime Sunday at Phoenix Raceway, but the bump never came.

Instead, Harvick pulled up beside Logano in the center of Turns 1 and 2 on the final lap of the FanShield 500, but Logano sped away with a hard charge off Turn 2 and cruised to the finish line with a margin of .276 seconds.

With the victory — his second at Phoenix and the 25th of his career — Logano is the first multiple winner of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season, having previously taken the checkered flag at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the year’s second event.

Logano won Sunday at the 1-mile track in the Sonoran Desert despite snafus that might have thwarted a lesser driver. On Lap 133, Logano’s crew was flagged for an uncontrolled tire, sending the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford to the rear of the field for a restart on Lap 138.

After Logano drove through the field and regained his track position, a broken jack during a yellow-flag pit stop on Lap 268 dropped him to 18th for a Lap 272 restart. By staying on the track while other lead-lap cars pitted under caution on Lap 279, Logano moved up to third in the running order, and on Lap 293, he passed teammate Brad Keselowski for the lead and took control of the race.

“Man, we had a really good car, really good Shell‑Pennzoil Mustang,” said Logano, who won for the second time with new crew chief Paul Wolfe after an offseason personnel shakeup at Team Penske. “We had more things go wrong today. Unfortunate situation with the jack breaking. No one’s fault.

“Had some good restarts, got ourselves back up there, being aggressive, having some tires there towards the end. I knew racing Kevin was going to be hard. I was figuring I was going to get hit, so I throttled up in the corner so much, I thought he was going to give me the bump‑and‑run, which I expected, wouldn’t blame him for.”

With arguably the fastest car, Harvick got bottled up in traffic on the Lap 272 restart and never regained the top spot. Logano controlled the final two restarts, including the overtime, chose the bottom lane and cut the dogleg just beyond the start-finish line to maintain his lead.

“He just had control of the race,” Harvick said. “After we pitted there (on Lap 268), 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.”

Kyle Busch ran third, as NASCAR’s new low-downforce competition package provided lively action throughout the afternoon.

“There at the end, obviously, making up some good spots on the bottom when everybody would get bottled up there mid-pack… but once you get closer to the front, it’s hard to make up those spots anymore on the bottom anymore like we were,” Busch said. “The guys did a great job. We weren’t very good when we unloaded (on Friday), we made a lot of ground, but still not enough ground as I would have wanted to race with some of the top guys. I felt like we were a fifth- or sixth-place car probably, and we were able to come out with a third. Good for us with that effort. We need some points right now. We have to climb the ladder back and get back where we need to be.”

Kyle Larson ran fourth, followed by Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch in order. Pole-winner Chase Elliott led a race-high 93 laps, but his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was forced to pit road for an unplanned stop under green on Lap 156 because of a loose wheel, and Elliott never recovered. He finished seventh after regaining the lead lap under caution on Lap 195.

Ninth-place finisher Cole Custer was the top Sunoco rookie in the race, posting his first career top 10 in the Cup Series. Aric Almirola and William Byron were eighth and 10th, respective, to round out the top 10.

Harvick won the first stage, and Keselowski was the winner of the second stage.

Overall, Logano led 60 of 316 laps, fourth most behind Elliott, Keselowski (82) and Harvick (67).

“I’m out of breath,” 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.”