Martin Truex Jr. roars to Phoenix victory
Martin Truex Jr. passed Joey Logano on a late restart and went on to win Sunday’s Cup race at Phoenix Raceway.
Truex’s first career Cup win at Phoenix snapped a 29-race winless streak for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. His last win came in June 2020 at Martinsville. Before Sunday, Truex had finished in the top three in 11 races since that Martinsville victory.
“I wouldn’t say we needed it,” Truex said. “I’d say we really were hungry for it. We really wanted it, obviously. We worked really hard. We’ve got a great team. It seemed like for whatever reason, it was always little things that were biting us. We were always so close, always second or third.”
MORE: Race results
He is the fifth different winner in the first five races of the season. He is the second Joe Gibbs Racing driver to win in this span. Teammate Christopher Bell won last month’s race on the Daytona road course.
Truex restarted second to Logano on Lap 288 of the 312-lap race and got by Logano exiting Turn 2. Truex never looked back.
“It just happened that I got a really good jump, side-by-side with him going into (Turn) 1,” Truex said. “I think he got tight or something. He ran way up the racetrack. I was turning kind of to the right, letting my car go up the hill as well, to keep him from running into the left side of me.
“I’m guessing he just drove in, got tight. We both ended up pretty high on the track. When that happened, I was able to grab the (traction compound) with my right sides and get the thing turned, get on the gas pretty early. That’s really what made the difference.”
Said Logano: “I was batting a thousand on the bottom (for restarts) the last, I don’t know, two years here. I was kind of actually surprised that Truex was still out there. Felt like I created enough distance down there on the bottom shortcut in the dogleg that, typically, I can have someone at my quarter to where I can control them.
“Looked down, gosh, he’s still door-to-door with me. Their car accelerated really well, surprisingly well. Didn’t see that one coming.”
Logano, who won this race last March, finished second. Denny Hamlin placed third. Brad Keselowski was fourth. Chase Elliott, who won last November at Phoenix to win his first series title, finished fifth. Kevin Harvick was sixth, earning his 16th consecutive top 10 at Phoenix.
Kyle Larson, who won last weekend’s race at Las Vegas, finished seventh despite having to start at the rear because of inspection issues before the race and two speeding penalties during it. His result was his fourth top 10 in the first five races of the season with Hendrick Motorsports.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Ryan Blaney
STAGE 2 WINNER: Joey Logano
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Denny Hamlin’s third-place finish marked his fourth top five in the first five races of the season.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Kyle Busch was penalized for an uncontrolled tire and later spun after contact from Ross Chastain. Busch finished 25th. ... Contact late led to Cole Custer finishing 31st. It is his third consecutive finish outside the top 20.
NOTABLE: This marks the first time since 2017 that the season has started with different winners in each of the first five races.
NEXT: The series races at 3 p.m. on March 21 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Fox.