Mixed-Bag Day for Dominant Drivers in Phoenix

The three drivers who combined to lead the most laps in the Valley of the Sun finished across the board on Sunday.

Joey Logano’s weekend started strong with a pole run on Friday, leading 82 laps and winning the first stage of the Camping World 500. But he lost the lead on the restart following the stage break and was busted for speeding under the fifth caution on lap 120.

To add insult to injury, he suffered a right-front tire blowout and slammed the wall in Turn 1 with six laps to go. The blowout was due to a melted bead caused by excessive brake heat, not uncommon at tracks such as Phoenix.

“The brakes are fine, we just blew a right front,” Logano said. “Probably just overheated the bead,” he said after the race. “I am sure that is what it was. There is not much you can do when the right front blows out. We had a good car in the beginning of the race and then just fell off and got a pit road speeding penalty and it was hard to get back up there. We were getting closer but out long run speed was off. We have to figure out how to get faster here on the long run.”

He finished 31st.

Chase Elliott took over the lead from Logano on the restart after the stage break, dominated the second stage and won it.

He said the move that got him the lead early in the race was “momentum. Just had momentum and basically knew that if you fall back in line second you are probably not going to pass them. You have to be night and day better than somebody to get by them under green or they have to have a problem or something. That was the biggest thing was just realizing that hey you’ve got a lap, so you either get the lead then or you don’t. Fortunately, we got it then, but didn’t keep it when it counted.”

He held the lead until Matt Kenseth brought out the caution with 120 to go, for slamming the wall after suffering a tire blowout, Busch beat him off pit road.

“Even the really good cars had a really hard time getting to somebody, so track position was big as it always is every week, everywhere we go and that will continue to be the case throughout the year,” Elliott said. “So, if you don’t have it at the end of the race it is going to be an uphill battle I feel like throughout this season. That is going to be a big trend.”

While not suffering the same fate as Logano, he faded from the conversation and came home 12th, having led 106 laps.

Finally, Busch took command of the race with 120 to go and led a race-high of 114 laps. The race was his to lose until Logano’s wreck with six to go brought out the final caution and brought all but Ryan Newman to pit road. Kyle Larson exited ahead of him.

He came home third.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

Tucker White
Tucker White
I've followed NASCAR for well over 20 years of my life, both as a fan and now as a member of the media. As of 2024, I'm on my ninth season as a traveling NASCAR beat writer. For all its flaws and dumb moments, NASCAR at its best produces some of the best action you'll ever see in the sport of auto racing. Case in point: Kyle Larson's threading the needle pass at Darlington Raceway on May 9, 2021. On used-up tires, racing on a worn surface and an aero package that put his car on the razor's edge of control, Larson demonstrated why he's a generational talent. Those are the stories I want to capture and break down. In addition to NASCAR, I also follow IndyCar and Formula 1. As a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I'm a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan (especially in regards to Tennessee football). If covering NASCAR doesn't kill me, down the road, watching Tennessee football will. I'm also a diehard fan of the Atlanta Braves, and I lived long enough to see them win a World Series for the first time since 1995 (when I was just a year old). I've also sworn my fan allegiance to the Nashville Predators, though that's not paid out as much as the Braves. Furthermore, as a massive sports dork, I follow the NFL on a weekly basis. Though it's more out of an obligation than genuine passion (for sports dorks, following the NFL is basically an unwritten rule). Outside of sports, I'm a major cinema buff and a weeb. My favorite film is "Blazing Saddles" and my favorite anime is "Black Lagoon."

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