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NASCAR Cup: Joey Logano first repeat winner of 2020

AVONDALE, ARIZONA – MARCH 07: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series FanShield 500 at Phoenix Raceway on March 07, 2020 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Joey Logano held off nine-time Phoenix Raceway winner Kevin Harvick on an overtime restart on Sunday to win the Fanshield 500 at Phoenix. The win was Logano’s second in the first four races of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season, making him the first repeat winner of the year.

“Definitely, everybody learned something out there today, just whether it’s racing, the way this traction compound is, the awesome sauce (traction compound) 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.”

The series returns to Phoenix Raceway in November for the championship finale.

Harvick finished second to give Ford a one-two finish after leading 67 laps of the race that was scheduled for a 312-lap distance but extended to 316 laps for an overtime restart after a wreck involving John Hunter Nemechek and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on lap 311.

“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.”

Kyle Busch finished third, Kyle Larson was fourth, and Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five to give SHR two top-five finishes. All four SHR drivers finished in the top-10, with Aric Almirola in eighth and rookie Cole Custer in ninth.

“This was huge,” Custer said. “It is a huge boost in our step to have a really solid day and fast Mustang. We overcame obstacles all weekend, and hopefully, we can continue to carry that all through the year. I think we get better every single race, so it is just a matter of continuing that and doing that every single weekend.”

Custer was the only rookie to post a top-10 finish on Sunday, but for much of the race, fellow-rookie Tyler Reddick spent a significant number of laps in or near the top-five before hitting the wall with just under 50 laps remaining.

Despite ending with a win, Logano’s race was somewhat troublesome, beginning with a penalty for an uncontrolled tire during a caution that came out when Austin Dillon hit the wall on lap 131. Then, during the eighth caution of the race on lap 194, Logano’s crew had trouble with the jack on a pit stop.

“We tried everything we could to regain our track position and get control back of the race,” Logano said. ”I knew that last restart was going to be crazy. I have to thank my partners, Moneyline, Auto Trader, AAA, Ford, Coca‑Cola, Snap‑on, everybody that helps this program at Team Penske, Roush‑Yates motors. It was cool to see two Fords on the front row at the end of a race like that. This is a motor race track as much as we don’t think it is. Proud of the team effort today to make this one come.”

The late laps of the race were littered with cautions. The yellow flag waved 12 times throughout the event, with five of those cautions coming inside the final 50 laps of the scheduled distance. As a result of the late-race rash of cautions, pit strategies varied. Busch had the newest tires among the top-three on a restart with under 10 laps to go, but Logano and Harvick were able to stay in front of him.

Chase Elliott and Harvick combined to lead most of the first half of the race after starting on the front row. Elliott led a race-high 93 laps, all before pitting from the lead with a loose wheel on lap 156. With Elliott’s stop, Brad Keselowski inherited the lead.

Elliott fell off the lead lap as a result of his pit stop but got back on the lead lap when the second stage ended under caution on lap 190. He finished the race in the seventh position.

Keselowski, after taking the lead when Elliott pitted, remained up front to win the second stage.

Keselowski was on of three drivers involved in an early-race crash on lap 64, the other two being Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin. Blaney’s car sustained enough damage to retire him from the race. Hamlin was able to continue but was not a factor for a high-finishing position through the remainder of the race.

“From the car, I couldn’t really see (what happened),” Blaney said. “A couple of us were three-wide. I was happy to be on the top. I thought we were going to roll the top pretty good through three and four there. It looks like the 11 (Hamlin) tried to send it in there below the 2 (Keselowski) and got loose and hit him and, then, overcorrected and got us. We got up in the dirt ,and we just ran right into the fence. Just an innocent bystander, there. It sucks to have it end so early like that and have that happen so early in the race. I do really hate it for Menards and Tarkett and Ford. We didn’t even have a chance to work on our car. We weren’t great the first run, but we made a big swing at it, and we don’t know how that change was. It stinks when you are taken out like that. We will just go on to Atlanta and see what we can do.”

Keselowski pitted during the resulting caution and, then, stayed out at the end of the first stage that was won by Harvick on lap 75. Keselowski was among the frontrunners just past lap 100 and took his first lead, albeit a brief one, on lap 138.

By the end of the race, Keselowski trailed only Elliott in the laps-led category, running up front for 82 laps. After staying out through several late-race cautions, though, he pitted during the second-to-last caution of the race inside the final 10 laps and wound up outside the top-10 at the checkered flag.

Other top-10 finishers included Kurt Busch in sixth and William Byron in 10th.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the Fanshield 500 at Phoenix Raceway:

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Posted by on March 9, 2020. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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