Martin Truex Jr. Becomes 5th Different NASCAR Cup Series Winner in 2021

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Phoenix Raceway, Avondale, AZ — March 14, 2021

The InstaCart 500 from Phoenix Raceway today is the 5th race of the 2021 NASCAR Cup season. To date, there have been four different winners in the first four events of the year. Expect that trend to continue.

Chase Elliott(9) won here in the fall to clinch his 1st Cup Series Championship, He will start from the back of the pack today after his crew made unapproved adjustments to his race car. Kevin Harvick(4) seems to run well here consistently but has been on a bit of a downer to start the season. The Busch brothers seem to love racing in the desert and are starting to come on strong. The last two race winners, Kyle Larson(5) at Vegas and William Byron(24) at Homestead, will also start from the rear of the field today after failing pre-race inspection twice. Cody Ware(51), Quin Houff(00), and Garrett Smithley(53) will join them at the tail end of the line-up.

Brad Keselowski(2) starts on the pole for today’s race, which consists of 312 laps around the 1-mile Phoenix raceway. Stages are 75/115/122 laps. Joey Logano(22) is the defending race champion. The track is the site of the classic 2012 Jeff Gordon / Clint Bowyer confrontation on the track that spilled over into the pits and garage after the race.

The two will be together in the Fox broadcast booth today for the call of the race. Their partner, Mike Joy, may be called on to intervene in what has been a friendly but competitive rivalry as the two former drivers try to provide the most interesting comments of the on-track action.

Stage 1

Keselowski led the first two laps before Denny Hamlin(11) moved to the front and took off.

Brad Keselowski leads the field at the start of the InstaCart 500 at Phoenix Raceway / NASCAR Photo

Hamlin held the lead until the competition caution waved on Lap 31. All the leaders pitted under the caution for fresh tires, fuel, and adjustments. Keselowski was 1st off of pit road, followed by Christopher Bell(20), Ryan Blaney(12), Harvick, and Hamlin.

This time Keselowski held the lead for 10 laps until he was passed by his teammate Blaney. On Lap 45, Ross Chastain(42) checked up slightly coming off Turn 2 and Alex Bowman(48) ran into the back of Chastain’s car spinning out the #48. The leaders all stayed out to keep their track position, those drivers further back unhappy with their cars came to pit road for work.

Blaney held on to the top spot for the Stage win as Team Penske Ford Mustangs finished 1-2-3 with Logano in 2nd and Keselowski 3rd.

Ryan Blaney(12) wins Stage 1 at Phoenix as Ford Mustangs sweep positions 1-2-3 / NASCAR Photo

Stage 1 Results

Position Car Driver Points
1 12 Ryan Blaney* 10
2 22 Joey Logano* 9
3 2 Brad Keselowski* 8
4 11 Denny Hamlin 7
5 9 Chase Elliott 6
6 18 Kyle Busch 5
7 4 Kevin Harvick* 4
8 24 William Byron 3
9 5 Kyle Larson 2
10 21 Matt DiBenedetto* 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Stage 2

After Stage-ending pit stops, Logano was first off pit road followed by Blaney, Hamlin, Elliott, and Keselowski. On Lap 88, Ware and Anthony Alfredo(38) got together and wrecked in Turn 2 bringing out the 4th caution of the day. The leaders stayed on the track, Logano and Blaney began stretching the lead again when the race went back to green.

Logano had built a three-second lead on Blaney when Larson moved up to take over the 2nd spot at the midway point of the Stage. Green flag pit stops began with 50 laps to go in Stage 2. Kyle Larson was too fast entering the pits and had to return to pit road for a drive-thru penalty causing the #5 car to go a lap down. Kyle Busch incurred the same penalty for an uncontrolled tire on his stop. He went two laps down serving his penalty.

When all stops were complete the Top 5 were Logano, Martin Truex Jr.(19), Blaney, Keselowski, and Hamlin.

Logano leads at Phoenix / NASCAR Photo

Logano dominated the Stage, taking the win and the maximum bonus points.

Stage 2 Results

Position Car Driver Points
1 22 Joey Logano* 10
2 19 Martin Truex Jr. 9
3 11 Denny Hamlin 8
4 2 Brad Keselowski* 7
5 12 Ryan Blaney* 6
6 4 Kevin Harvick* 5
7 24 William Byron 4
8 10 Aric Almirola* 3
9 9 Chase Elliott 2
10 20 Christopher Bell 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

The Final Stage

After pit stops Logano still led, Hamlin, Truex, Blaney, and Keselowski form the lead pack for the restart. Truex pushed Logano on the restart and got the #22 car sideways at the drop of the green. Somehow Logano saved his car from spinning and drove off retaining the lead.

With 88 laps to go, Truex passed Logano for the lead and immediately began to pull away. The only other car on the track making moves is Larson, who recovered from his speeding penalty on pit road to return to the Top 5.

Green flag pit stops began with 65 laps to go. Logano and Larson were the 1st of the lead group to pit. The four tires Logano received from his crew were critical as the handle on the car had gone away completely. After cycling through pit stops Truex was back out front with Larson in 2nd. Hamlin, Logano, and Keselowski completed the Top 5.

With 50 laps to go Tyler Reddick(8) got into the outside wall and cut down a tire bringing out the caution flag again. Everyone except Bubba Wallace(23) took the opportunity to pit for fresh Goodyear tires and enough fuel to make sure they were safe even if the race went to overtime.

Logano will line up next to Wallace for the restart with Keselowski, Truex, Larson, and Hamlin in tow. Keselowski and Logano swallowed up Wallace on the drop of the green. Truex and Larson followed quickly.

The Finish

With 39 laps to go Logano was back out front, he had Keselowski to help block as Joey was looking to put as much distance as possible on Truex and Larson. Truex passed Keselowski with 31 laps to go, just as Kyle Busch(18) spun out across the start/finish line bringing out another caution.

Again everyone pitted for fresh tires. The lineup heading to the restart was Logano, Truex, Hamlin, Keselowski, Larson. Truex outraced Logano as the field stacked up four-wide behind them.

Martin Truex Jr. Wins at Phoenix / NASCAR Photo

Today the old guard prevailed as Truex took the checkered flag for the win. Logano, Hamlin Keselowski, and Elliott followed across the line. It was Truex’s 1st victory at Phoenix and the 5th different winner in the Cup Series this year.

Playoff Points Standings

Rank Driver Points Status
1 Martin Truex Jr. 180 In-Win
2 Kyle Larson 179 In-Win
3 Christopher Bell 167 In-Win
4 William Byron 152 In-Win
5 Michael McDowell 140* In-Win
6 Denny Hamlin 236 +126
7 Brad Keselowski 197* +87
8 Joey Logano 192* +82
9 Chase Elliott 179 +69
10 Kevin Harvick 176* +66
11 Kurt Busch 144 +34
12 Austin Dillon 135 +25
13 Ryan Blaney 134* +24
14 Ryan Preece 123 +13
15 Kyle Busch 115 +5
16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 113* +3
Playoff Cut Line
17 Alex Bowman 110 -3
18 Chris Buescher 109* -4
19 Bubba Wallace 97 -16
20 Cole Custer 86* -27
21 Ross Chastain 85 -28
22 Ryan Newman 84* -29
23 Erik Jones 78 -35
24 Daniel Suarez 74 -39
25 Chase Briscoe 73* -40

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Results of the InstaCart 500 from Phoenix Raceway

Position Car Driver Behind Laps
1 19 Martin Truex Jr. 312
2 22 Joey Logano 1.698 312
3 11 Denny Hamlin 2.161 312
4 2 Brad Keselowski 4.486 312
5 9 Chase Elliott 5.228 312
6 4 Kevin Harvick 5.971 312
7 5 Kyle Larson 8.214 312
8 24 William Byron 8.828 312
9 20 Christopher Bell 8.937 312
10 12 Ryan Blaney 9.437 312
11 10 Aric Almirola 9.585 312
12 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 10.213 312
13 48 Alex Bowman 10.642 312
14 21 Matt DiBenedetto 11.119 312
15 1 Kurt Busch 12.171 312
16 23 Bubba Wallace 12.914 312
17 3 Austin Dillon 13.215 312
18 17 Chris Buescher 14.356 312
19 42 Ross Chastain 15.408 312
20 43 Erik Jones 15.868 312
21 99 Daniel Suarez 16.730 312
22 14 Chase Briscoe 17.501 312
23 34 Michael McDowell 20.324 312
24 77 Justin Haley 24.914 312
25 18 Kyle Busch -1 311
26 37 Ryan Preece -1 311
27 7 Corey LaJoie -1 311
28 6 Ryan Newman -1 311
29 8 Tyler Reddick -2 310
30 78 BJ McLeod -3 309
31 41 Cole Custer -4 308
32 0 Quin Houff -7 305
33 15 James Davison -9 303
34 53 Garrett Smithley -12 300
35 52 Josh Bilicki -54 258
36 51 Cody Ware -211 101
37 38 Anthony Alfredo -225 87
38 66 Timmy Hill -297 15