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Truex snaps winless streak, bests Logano at Phoenix

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Joey Logano was first off pit road on the race’s final pit stops but on a restart with 25 of 312 laps remaining, Truex powered to the outside of Logano and grabbed the lead through Turns 1 and 2.

The race remained caution-free from there and Truex held off Logano by 1.698 seconds at the finish.

Truex had a difficult start in the first stage, at one point tagging the wall and picking up some right-side damage and fell back through the field.

By the end of Stage 2, Truex was already back up front contending with Logano for the stage victory.

Truex’s most recent win – and the only one of the 2020 season – came last June at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The win is the 28th of his career and first at Phoenix.

“It was just an awesome job by everybody,” Truex said. “Really, really solid. The beginning of the race I thought we were going to run 15th or so. I can’t really believe it. I’m kind of speechless. This feels pretty amazing.

“Phoenix has been a tough one for us and then to come here and win this. I wish it was November but hopefully we can come back in November and have a shot (at the championship) being in the final four. Man, so thankful and so proud of everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing and everybody who makes this possible.”

Asked how hard he had to work for this win, Truex said, “A lot. About lap 67, I hit the fence off of Turn 2. Our car was super tight to start off the race. It wasn’t any good at all. I can’t believe I’m standing here right now. What an effort by my guys on the team. It’s just unreal. 

“It’s a dream come true to drive these cars and be out here in front of these awesome fans. Hopefully we can put together a good season and win some races. One win last year was disappointing for us. We were close a lot of times, but we want to win bunches and we want to go for another championship, so hopefully this will be good momentum for us right here.”

 

Denny Hamlin ended up third, Brad Keselowski was fourth and Chase Elliott rounded out the top-five.

Completing the top-10 were Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, William Byron, Christopher Bell and Ryan Blaney.

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Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, the lead-lap cars all pit with Logano the first off pit road. Aric Almirola, Elliott and Ross Chastain were all penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart from the rear of the field.

The race returned to green on Lap 200 with Logano out front followed by Hamlin, Truex, Blaney and Keselowski.

On Lap 225, Truex finally passed Logano after methodically running him down for several laps, taking the lead for the first time in the race.

With 75 laps remaining in the race, Truex had opened up a 2-second lead over Logano with Hamlin in third. Keselowski was fourth and Larson fifth.

Byron was first of the lead-lap cars on Lap 250 to kick a final round of green-flag pit stops to take new tires and fuel to make it to the finish of the race.

Tyler Reddick was penalized for speeding on pit road during his stop and had to serve a pass-through penalty.

Once the cycle of stops was completed on Lap 255, Truex cycled back into the lead followed by Larson, Hamlin, Logano and Keselowski.

On Lap 262, Reddick hit the Turn 2 wall and dropped debris on the track which brought out the sixth caution of the race.

Most of the lead-lap cars pit but Bubba Wallace stayed out and inherited the lead. Chase Briscoe was penalized for speeding during his stop and had to restart from the rear of the field.

When the race returned to green on Lap 269, Wallace was followed by Logano, Keselowski, Truex and Larson.

Keselowski went three-wide on the restart and quickly moved into the lead heading into Turn 1.

On Lap 274, Logano went to the outside of Keselowski off Turn 2 and reclaimed the lead.

Kyle Busch spun off Turn 4 on Lap 283 to bring out a caution in an incident which Chastain was also involved.

 

All lead-lap cars elected to pit with Logano once again the first off pit road. When the race returned to green on Lap 288, Logano was followed by Truex, Hamlin, Keselowski and Larson.

Truex powered around the outside of Logano in Turn 2 to retake the lead after the restart.

Stage 2

Logano dominated much of the 115-lap stage and easily held on to beat Truex for the Stage 2 win.

Hamlin was third, Keselowski fourth and Blaney rounded out the top-five.

Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, the lead-lap cars all pit with Logano the first off pit road. Daniel Suarez was penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart the race from the rear of the field.

The race returned to green on Lap 84 with Logano leading the way, followed by Blaney, Hamlin and Elliott.

On Lap 89, Cody Ware drove into Anthony Alfredo and both slid up the track and into the Turn 2 wall to bring out a caution.

 

Most of the lead-lap cars remained on the track and Logano continued to lead the way when the race resumed on Lap 99.

On Lap 128, Larson went to the inside of Blaney in Turn 1 and came away with second place, more than 3.5-seconds behind leader Logano.

Several teams hit pit road on Lap 141 to begin a round of green flag pit stops to take on new tires and fuel to make it to the finish of the stage.

During the stops, Larson was penalized again for speeding and Kyle Busch was penalized for an uncontrolled tire. Both had to serve pass-through penalties.

Once the cycle of stops was completed on Lap 156, Logano cycled back into the lead followed by Blaney, Truex, Keselowski and Hamlin.

With 25 laps to go in the stage, Logano held a more than 4-second lead over Truex as Blaney ran third and Keselowski fourth.

With five laps remaining, Truex had cut Logano’s lead down to 1.4 seconds. Hamlin ran third, Blaney fourth and Keselowski fifth.

Stage 1

Blaney held off a furious charge from his teammate Logano to take the Stage 1 win, his first stage victory of the 2021 season.

Keselowski was third, Hamlin fourth and Elliott rounded out the top-five.

Keselowski, who started on the pole, led the first lap only to see Hamlin power around him to grab the top spot on Lap 2.

With 10 laps to go until the competition caution, Hamlin maintained about a 1-second lead over Bell with Keselowski third and Blaney fourth.

On Lap 31 NASCAR displayed a competition caution to allow teams to check tire wear. All the lead-lap cars pit with Keselowski the first off pit road.

Larson, who had charged into the top-15 after starting from the rear, was penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart from the rear of the field.

When the race resumed on Lap 37, Keselowski was followed by Bell, Blaney and Harvick.

On Lap 44, Blaney went to the inside of Keselowski in Turn 3 and came away with the lead for the first time in the race.

Alex Bowman looped it around in Turn 2 and backed into the wall to bring out a caution on Lap 46. He was able to drive it away and continued down pit road for repairs.

 

A handful of cars pit but Blaney stayed out and remained in the lead when the race returned to green on Lap 52.

With 10 laps remaining in the first stage, Blaney held a small but steady lead over Logano with Keselowski third and Hamlin fourth.

Three Hendrick Motorsports cars had to start the race from the rear of the field – Byron and Laron for failing pre-race inspection twice and Elliott for unapproved adjustments.



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