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Phoenix Recap

Joey Logano would lead Joe Gibbs Racing with an 11th-place finish in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Teammate Denny Hamlin would cross the line just behind Logano in 12th, while an engine failure left Kyle Busch back in 36th.

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Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the 25th position and was able to move inside the top 20 during the open run of the race. He would race as high as 13th shortly following a restart for a lap 40 competition caution. The No. 20 Camry’s handling conditions proved problematic for Logano however over the course of the ensuing run and he would drop a few positions while waiting for the next opportunity for The Home Depot crew to make the necessary adjustments. That would come on a pit stop just prior to the midpoint of the race and just a few laps after the next restart Logano had climbed all the way into the top 10. He would settle into the 12th position before coming down pit road under the green flag for a final scheduled stop with 30 laps to go. Logano would gain an additional spot while racing to the finish for a solid 11th-place effort.

Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota in the 33rd position and was able to move inside the top 25 during the early portion of the race. Hamlin would enter the top 15 at the midpoint of the race following a pit stop just prior to the halfway mark and was racing 11th on lap 171. He would enter the top 10 just a few laps later and eventually settle into the 11th position while battling tight handling conditions.  He would pit under the green flag with 37 laps remaining and the race would continue to the end under the green flag. Hamlin would take the checkered flag in the 12th position.

Busch qualified the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota in the 34th position, but had to go to the back of the field for the start of today’s race following an engine change during Friday’s opening practice session.  A rainy morning washed all the rubber off the track and NASCAR made the determination that there would be a competition caution on lap 40. By the time lap 40 came around, Busch had navigated his way up to the 25th position and with a solid two-tire stop he was able to restart inside the top 20. A caution just prior to the midpoint of the race would prove beneficial as several cars in front of the Busch had already made green flag pit stops. When the No. 18 Camry came out of the pits, the team’s fast work had enabled Busch to pick up several additional positions and restart sixth. A lap later he had entered the top five and had raced up into the third spot when he called in to crew chief Dave Rogers on lap 187 that his engine was blowing up.  With his day over early he would go on to finish a disappointing 36th.

Kasey Kahne captured the victory, with Carl Edwards second, Tony Stewart third, Jeff Burton fourth, and Ryan Newman rounded out the top-five.  There were eight cautions for a total of 30 laps and 15 lead changes among seven different drivers over the course of the 312-lap race.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Homestead for the season finale next Sunday, November 20. The Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship is down to just two teams with Carl Edwards holding a slim three-point lead over Tony Stewart. The race will begin at 3 PM ET with live, high-definition coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at 2 PM. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 90.