After the Daytona 500, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series headed out west to Phoenix International Raceway for the Subway Fit Fresh 500.

The story heading into the race was Joe Gibbs Racing and the Toyota engine program. Both Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin were forced to the rear after two different engine issues before the green flag.

Mark Martin was the fastest oldest guy in town with his blistering lap laid down in qualifying. Martin would lead the field early but a series of cautions early on saw mixed strategy.

Martin would have a loose wheel and would have to make an unscheduled stop but would take back the lead after a pit stops cycled through.

Trouble though struck for Busch who started at the back and drove to the front but an overaggressive move saw him spin out and cause some damage to front of his car. He would hit pit road but struggled to get his lap back as the race saw long green flag runs.

Another driver who was expected to contend was Ryan Newman. He cut a tire down twice, but the second time ended his day. His teammate Danica Patrick, cut a tire down as well and brought out the caution on lap 185.

Carl Edwards was leading the way and just over halfway pit stops would be coming. Two tires were the way to go all day as four tires didn’t give a driver much of an advantage.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. would pace the field after the pit stop following Patrick’s wreck. The field was single file through the top 10 just logging laps with at least one more stop coming and less than 100 to go.

Caution waved on lap 237 would give Busch the lucky dog and bring the field to pit road. Everyone was on the edge in terms of fuel mileage so this was a critical stop for those top 10.

Edwards was leading but everyone was on the edge of the fuel mileage game and saving began quickly after the final run began.

Ken Schrader cut a tire down with three to go the game suddenly changed as now these teams who had just enough fuel to make it to the end.

On the restart, Brad Keselowski pushed Edwards out front of Johnson and it was Hamlin who took it three wide for second coming to the checkered. Johnson beat him to the line, barely.

In the end it was Edwards who ended up in victory lane and got to do is customary back flip after 70 races since his last win.

PIR has proven to be a streak buster the last couple years as in 2011 Jeff Gordon broke his career long winless streak at PIR.

The rest of the top 10 were Johnson, Hamlin, Keselowski, Earnhardt, Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton.

The top 10 in the points after PIR are Johnson, Earnhardt, Keselowski, Hamlin, Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Martin, Gordon, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Aric Almirola.

Next up for NSCS is Las Vegas Motor Speedway, next Sunday, 2:30 ET on FOX.

 

photo:foxsports.com