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.