“They didn’t make it easy on me,” Logano said. “The car was loose the first couple of laps on restarts, but then it got better.”
It may not have been easy, but Logano managed to make it look pretty simple. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was able to claim the lead by staying out while almost everyone else pitted during a caution that came out on lap 69, but as soon as the race went back to green, Logano moved back into the lead and went about his business of making things look easy.
Stenhouse later pitted for four tires when the yellow flag waved again on lap 90, while everyone who pitted under the previous caution stayed out. He was able to get back toward the front with his fresher tires, but he wasn’t able to catch Logano.
“We worked really hard,” Stenhouse said. “(Crew chief) Mike (Kelley) made some great calls — staying out and then taking four.”
The only driver who was able to stay in front of Logano for any length of time was Brad Keselowski. Keselowski got off pit road in front of Logano during a caution that came out on lap 120. He managed to stay out front until a restart following the next caution that came out on lap 148. On the restart, Keselowski felt as if he had a tire going down. He lost the lead to Logano and then continued losing additional positions.
Keselowski pitted for tires when the yellow flag waved again around lap 155 and restarted the race near the back. By the end of the race, he drove back into the top-10 to finish ninth.
Elliott Sadler, who headed into Phoenix in a tie with Stenhouse for the championship points lead, had a race that was somewhat the opposite of Logano’s. Sadler started in the back in a backup car after wrecking during qualifying earlier in the day. After driving into the top-10 early, slow pit stops and the loss of positions on restarts kept Sadler outside the top-10 for much of the event.
Things went from bad to worse for Sadler with two laps to go, when contact with Cole Whitt sent him hard into the wall and on the receiving end of additional contact from Richard Childress Racing teammate Brendan Gaughan. Sadler wound up finishing the race in 22nd.
“I did it to myself,” Sadler said. “I put my team in the hole qualifying like I did.”
The race was red-flagged for track cleanup from Sadler’s incident and the race went into overtime for a green-white-checker finish. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Logano and Brian Vickers restarted first and second, with Stenhouse in third.
When the race went back to green, Logano drove away and on to another win. Vickers was able to hold off Stenhouse for second. Stenhouse was third and moved out to a 20 point lead over Sadler, who held on to the second spot.
Rounding out the top-five were Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne. Sixth through 10th were Austin Dillon, Michael Annett, Brian Scott, Keselowski and Danica Patrick.
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