The driver of the number 19 car, Martin Truex Jr., dominated much of the race at Phoenix with his great long-run speed.
NASCAR’s 5th race of the season started off with most drivers avoiding that traction compound early on and Brad Keselowski diving ridiculously low into the dogleg on the initial green flag start of the race. Denny Hamlin took the lead early on from Keselowski and led the race entirely leading up to the competition caution. It didn’t take long for drivers to make their way up to the traction compound with JGR teammates Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. testing it out early because of the tightness of their cars. Once the competition caution completed, that compound came more into play once more heat got into it, and rubber laid down.
Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing were consistently running upfront much of stage 1, especially since 3 out of the 4 Hendrick Motorsports’ drivers started the race at the rear, and Kyle Larson being sent to the rear again after speeding on pit road during the competition caution. It did not take long for those three Hendricks’ cars to make their way through the field as Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, and William Byron were already in the top ten with ten to go in the first stage.
Stage one ended with team Penske running first, second, and third consecutively with Ryan Blaney winning the stage, holding off Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski.
The green flag dropped on stage 2, but the race did not stay green long after Cody Ware gets into the back of Anthony Alfredo and sends the 38 car of Alfredo flying up into the wall, ending his race prematurely. About 40 laps into stage 2, drivers begun to start using the middle or lower lanes of the racetrack, pulling slide-jobs on the drivers who were still committing up high on that traction compound. This was likely due to some of that black, PJ1 traction compound starting to wear away as drivers were heavily relying on that for grip up high on the racetrack.
Green flag pit stops started happening on lap 143, with Kyle Larson penalized again for driving too fast on pit road and Kyle Busch also penalized for an uncontrolled tire violation. Both drivers were running inside the top ten prior to pitting and both ended outside the top 20 after having to serve the penalties under green. Corey LaJoie was the only car to stay out for track position but slowly started falling back as drivers with fresher tires carried more speed and were able to make the easy pass. Stage 2 ended with Martin Truex jr. closing ground on race leader Joey Logano, as Logano hit lap traffic and was raced hard by Ross Chastain who wanted to stay on the lead lap to end the stage.
Ultimately, Logano’s lead was too large for Truex to overcome and he won stage 2 ahead of Truex.
The final stage was led off by Logano on the restart and was almost spun-out after Martin Truex jr. bumps him from behind, but saves it as the number 22 car got loose and went sideways. With about 90 laps left to go, Truex was able to make the pass on Logano for the lead as they got caught up in lap traffic. Truex had great long-run speed for much of the race and was oftentimes posting the quickest lap times in the last two stages. Tyler Reddick hits the wall and cuts a tire to bring out the 6th caution of the race.
The final stage resumed with 44 laps to go led by Bubba Wallace who instantly fell back to third after he spun his tires on the restart, giving Brad Keselowski the lead. With 30 laps to go, Kyle Busch got loose heading into the dogleg and had to check-up which forced Ross Chastain in the 42 to get into the back of Busch’s 18, which ultimately spun him out to bring out another caution. Logano and Truex were on the front row for the restart and Truex quickly jumped out in front of Logano for the lead. With 10 laps to go Martin Truex jr. had a decent 3-4 car lead over Joey Logano in the number 22 car. Ultimately his long-run speed was too much for Logano as Truex wins easily in a somewhat dominating fashion.