Last week at Las Vegas, contact between Joey Logano and Kyle Busch cost Busch several finishing positions. More importantly, it cost Busch valuable championship points. This week at Phoenix, Logano cost Busch a chance at victory. While no contact occurred between the two driver’s cars, the circumstances provided the same results.
Busch dominated the late stages of the race. Leading 114 of the 314 run, more than any other driver. Busch was in front when Logano blew a tire with six laps to go and hit the wall. During the caution, Busch and the majority of the field pitted. Ryan Newman stayed on track and inherited the lead. By the time the race restarted it had gone into overtime. Newman got a great jump and won driving away as the other contenders scrambled for position behind him. Logano won the first stage leading from lap 1 and banked a valuable 10 bonus points. His crash relegated the Penske Racing driver to a 31st place finish.
The Playoff Standings
Ford drivers failed to show the dominance they did in the first three races of the season. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished fourth, employing the same late-race strategy as Newman. Brad Keselowski took fifth, Kevin Harvick battled an ill-handling racecar to end up sixth. Clint Bowyer finished 13th, the only other Ford in the top 15. Keselowski lost the points lead to Kyle Larson, who finished second to Newman. Logano, Blaney, Harvick, Kurt Busch, Trevor Bayne, and Clint Bowyer all remain in playoff position. Aric Almirola finished 17th and dropped to 17th in the standings. One spot out of the final playoff position.
Next week wraps up the west coast swing. The Auto Club 400 from Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA kicks off Sunday at 3:30. It will be interesting to see if the Ford teams can rebound from this week’s sub-par performance.