Truex Jr soars to victory at Phoenix

Truex Jr soars to victory at Phoenix

Martin Truex Jr. earned his first win at Phoenix Raceway late Sunday after powering past Joey Logano on the final restart of the Instacart 500.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021 (11:33 am)

Truex led the final 25 laps and drove away from Logano after taking the top spot. The race restarted for the last time with 26 laps to go, with Logano choosing the inside lane and putting Truex to his outside. Truex challenged Logano on the outside through Turns 1 and 2 and was clear of Logano going down the backstretch, and then he quickly gapped the Team Penske driver to the checkered flag.

Although Truex led for a total of 64 laps, it all came in the second half of the race. Truex tagged the wall off Turn 2 very early in the day and damaged the right rear of his Toyota, which resulted in two extended pit stops under early cautions and being put back in the running order.

“Just an awesome job by everybody, James [Small], Blake [Harris], fixing it,” Truex said of his car. “All the pit crew guys; really solid. The beginning of the race, I thought we were going to run 15th or so, and man, I can’t really believe it. I’m kind of speechless; this feels pretty amazing.

“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. Man, just so thankful, so proud of everybody at JGR and everybody that makes this possible.”

Kyle Busch’s spin after contact with Ross Chastain on the frontstretch set up the run to the finish. Truex had been leading when the caution came out but came off pit road second to Logano.

Logano led a race-high 143 laps and won the second stage. He came into the weekend as the defending race winner.

“I was surprised he was able to hang with me,” Logano said of racing Truex on the final restart. “I’m pretty sure even if I beat him, he was still going to get by me, though. He was fast.”

Denny Hamlin finished third, Brad Keselowski finished fourth, and Chase Elliott finished fifth. Elliott drove through the field twice after starting at the rear following unapproved adjustments after inspection and then a speeding penalty at the Stage 2 break.

Kevin Harvick finished sixth, Kyle Larson finished seventh, William Byron finished eighth, Christopher Bell finished ninth, and Ryan Blaney finished 10th. Blaney led 35 laps and won the first stage.

Truex and the No. 19 team from Joe Gibbs Racing are the fifth different winners in five races this season. Sunday was the 28th win of his Cup Series career.

Phoenix saw 22 lead changes among nine drivers and seven cautions.

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