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Martin Truex Jr. wins NASCAR Cup race at Phoenix Raceway

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Joey Logano has received just a few instances at Phoenix Raceway and is aware of an excellent restart when he feels one. With 25 laps to go Sunday, he bought an excellent run on the inexperienced flag, dipped down low on the dogleg and felt nice.

Then he realized Martin Truex Jr’s No. 19 Toyota was nonetheless proper subsequent to him. That was a giant drawback.

Truex blew previous Logano on the ultimate restart and pulled away for his first NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season and twenty eighth general. That set off a hearty celebration from his Joe Gibbs Racing crew, particularly after a irritating 2020 season that included only one win.

“I’d say we were really hungry for it,” Truex stated. “We really wanted it, obviously. We worked really hard, we’ve got a great team and it just seemed like for whatever reason, it was always little things biting us. We were always so close, always second or third.”

This time he was first. By quite a bit.

Truex beat the 4 championship finalists from final yr. He had didn’t advance into the season-ending finale for the primary time in 4 years and will solely watch as Chase Elliott beat Logano, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski for the title at the desert oval. All 4 tailed Truex throughout the end line Sunday.

Phoenix Raceway will once more host the championship race in November.

“To come here and win this, I wish it was November,” Truex stated. “Hopefully, we can come back in November and have a shot at the championship.”

The 40-year-old Truex struggled earlier this yr, ending twenty fifth at Daytona. But he’s raced significantly better in latest weeks, ending third at Homestead and sixth at Las Vegas final week.

He was dominant throughout the last half Sunday and have become simply the second driver from final yr’s 16-car playoff area to qualify for the postseason. It was good day for Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing, which had the winner in Truex and Hamlin within the third spot.

Logano completed second. He stated even when he was capable of maintain Truex on the restart, he in all probability would have handed him earlier than the checkered flag.

“They just had a fast car,” Logano stated.

Truex, who introduced a contract extension with JGR days earlier than the season-opening Daytona 500, rebuked questions on retirement earlier than he’d even been requested. After final yr’s one-win season, there had been hypothesis the veteran was considering retirement. But Truex additionally collected 11 finishes of second or third and missed the championship finale for simply the second time in six years.

Kyle Larson — who raced to his first victory with Hendrick Motorsports final week in Las Vegas — needed to begin at the again of the sector after a pre-race inspection failure. He labored his means again to the entrance and briefly led about midway via the race.

But quickly after he made a important error, getting flagged for rushing on pit highway. He needed to go via pit highway as a penalty, inflicting him to fall to the again of the lead lap in twenty second place. He completed seventh.

Logano — who led 143 laps — received the second stage after main the ultimate 35 laps throughout a protracted stretch of green-flag racing. But he couldn’t maintain again Truex, who received his ninth race with JGR.

Hamlin was quick early within the race, main for 31 laps till the competitors warning halfway via the primary stage. But he fell again just a few spots after a pit cease that allowed Ryan Blaney a window to get to the entrance of the sector. Blaney received the 75-lap first stage after main 35 laps.

FANS IN STANDS

Truex loved getting the win in entrance of some followers in Phoenix. The observe allowed about 20% of the grandstand to be stuffed. Phoenix was the location of the final “normal” race final March earlier than COVID-19 shut down the game for about two months.

“Most we’ve seen in awhile and the more the merrier. We love having them, we miss seeing them, we miss seeing them in the infield, we miss pre-race, we miss practice, we miss qualifying just like everyone else,” Truex stated.

NOTES

Six drivers — three from Hendrick Motorsports — needed to begin at the again of the sector, together with Elliott, William Byron, Larson, Cody Ware, Quinn Houff and Garrett Smithley. Larson, Byron and Ware went to again due to pre-race inspection failures, Elliott and Houff had unapproved changes and Smithley was a substitute driver. … Lyn St. James was the honorary starter. St. James is certainly one of simply 9 ladies to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.

UP NEXT

NASCAR makes the lengthy journey throughout the nation for a race at Atlanta Motor Speedway subsequent weekend. Kevin Harvick received at the observe final season.

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