The NASCAR Cup Series ran their fifth race of the season on Sunday. The Instacart 500 at Phoenix Raceway brought about all kinds of action over the course of 312 laps. The race was better than expected as there were many passes and wrecks. In the end, Martin Truex Jr. became the fifth different winner of the 2021 NASCAR season.
NASCAR Cup Series Recap |Martin Truex Jr. wins at Phoenix
Instacart 500 Stage 1
Brad Keselowski would lead the field to the green but would not hold the front position for long. Denny Hamlin got by him and into the lead very quickly. Just before the competition caution, Martin Truex Jr. actually brushed the wall coming out of Turn 2. Keselowski regained the lead on pit road. With a little help from Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman spun around following the return to green. Into the wall he went. Ryan Blaney eventually took the lead late in the stage and earned the playoff point.
Instacart 500 Stage 2
The green was dropped on the second stage of the race and not soon after that, Anothny Alfredo wrecked. Cody ware appeared to get lose and slid up the track, taking the rear bumper of Alfredo’s car along with him. The crash knocked both drivers out of the race. Not much happened in Stage 2 after that. Corey LaJoie, who pitted during the caution, tried to make it to the end of the stage on fuel. While he was able to lead several laps as green flag stops cycled through, Joey Logano and others would easily catch him. Making matters worse, the No. 7 car ultimagtely had to pit under green and fell two laps down. Overall, Logano dominated the stage on his way to the win.
Instacart 500 Final Stage
Logano led the field back to green for the final stage. He maintained his lead until about 89 to go when Martin Truex Jr. passed him by. Tyler Reddick hit the wall and cut a tire down to bring out a caution. Bubba Wallace was the only driver who chose not to pit making him the race leader on the ensuing restart. That didn’t last long as Logano passed him before Turn 1.
A number of laps later, Kyle Busch went around to bring out the final caution with about 30 to go. It was the exclamation point on a miserable day for the No. 18 team at a Phoenix raceway track that they have been superb at in recent years. On the restart, Martin Truex Jr. was able to get a run and pass Logano. Cole Custer and Wallace got together and caused major damage to Custer, but no caution flag was thrown. In the end, Truex Jr. would get his first win of the year and his first win since the first Martinsville race last year.
Final Instacart 500 Thoughts
The NASCAR Cup Series Instacart 500 was better than I thought it would be. It was easily a more entertaining race than either of last year’s Phoenix Raceway races. The cars seemed like they could pass easier than last year and the drivers had to manage the cars more. As good as this race was, next week figures to be even better on the rugged surface of Atlanta Motor Speedway.