Joey Logano holds off Kevin Harvick at Phoenix

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nascar/sprint/drivers/1542/" data-ylk="slk:Joey Logano">Joey Logano</a> has won two of the first four races of the 2020 season. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Joey Logano has won two of the first four races of the 2020 season. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Joey Logano has two wins in four races to start 2020.

Logano held off Kevin Harvick on a two-lap restart to end Sunday’s race at Phoenix and get his second victory of the season. Logano won the second race of the season at Las Vegas and got his second career win at Phoenix when he kept the lead for the final 20-plus laps of the race.

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Logano pitted for fresh tires when a caution flag flew with less than 50 laps to go. That meant he had tires that were 60 laps fresher than teammate Brad Keselowski when he passed Keselowski with 22 laps to go. After that pass, Logano never relinquished the lead.

The final 65 laps of the race featured six caution flags and set up a tire strategy play for many of the cars on the lead lap. Keselowski didn’t pit at the beginning of the spate of caution flags and while that kept him in the lead until Logano passed him it didn’t ultimately work out. He pitted late for fresh tires and finished 11th as cars who pitted far earlier took advantage of the track position they gained over the final portion of the race.

Phoenix is the site of the winner-take-all season finale to end the Cup Series season for the first time in 2020. And Logano sure looks like an early contender to be racing for that championship for the second time in three seasons. Logano won the 2018 Cup Series title when he passed Martin Truex Jr. late in the race for the championship.

Logano is now the points leader

While Logano passed one teammate for the eventual win, he passed his other teammate for the points lead.

Ryan Blaney entered Sunday’s race with the points lead through three races but was caught up in an early crash when Denny Hamlin made contact with Keselowski. Blaney got the worst of the incident. As Hamlin and Keselowski were able to carry on, he had to park his car in the garage because of the damage. He finished 37th.

Logano entered the race 11 points behind Blaney. He earned 52 points while Blaney got just one.

First race with lower downforce at short tracks

The racing at shorter tracks was awful in 2019 after NASCAR added downforce and drag to the cars. The sanctioning body acted appropriately entering 2020 and cut downforce levels at tracks a mile and shorter to levels similar to where they were in 2018. Less downforce means less aerodynamic grip. And that means drivers have to get out of the throttle sooner entering the corners and can’t carry as much speed through the turns.

The lack of downforce worked out really well on Sunday. The race was much better than anything Phoenix produced in 2019 as drivers were able to run side-by-side at times and actually attempt passes. The eight-inch spoilers on the cars in 2019 — spoilers were 2.75 inches on Sunday — created such turbulent air that drivers had a hard time getting close to one another.

Heck, you can even argue that the crash involving Blaney, Hamlin and Keselowski was due to the lack of aerodynamic grip. With surfboard spoilers on the cars and greater front downforce, it’s easy to see Hamlin’s car sticking entering turn 3 and both Keselowski and Hamlin able to save their cars from spinning. But without nearly as much aero grip as they had a year ago, the two drivers found themselves in the middle of a wreck.

Martin Truex Jr.’s horrible start

Martin Truex Jr.’s 2020 season without crew chief Cole Pearn is not going very well. Truex was 32nd on Sunday after he hit the wall following contact from Aric Almirola with 30 laps to go. Truex has failed to finish two of the first four races of the season and has yet to get a top-10 finish.

He ran well on Sunday before the crash. Truex had a top-five car for most of the race and finished seventh and third in the first two stages.

All 4 SHR cars in top 10

It was a pretty good day for Stewart-Haas Racing. Harvick finished second and his three other teammates finished in the top 10. Clint Bowyer was fifth, Almirola was eighth and rookie Cole Custer finished ninth and got the first top-10 finish of his career.

Need a late caution? Call Ross Chastain.

Ross Chastain has now helped cause cautions inside the final 10 scheduled laps in three of the first four races of the season. Chastain was involved in a caution with less than three scheduled laps to go in the Daytona 500 when he made contact with Ryan Preece. He then had a tire issue and caused a caution with less than 10 laps to go the following week at Las Vegas while subbing for Ryan Newman. And he hit the wall on Sunday at Phoenix in Newman’s No. 6 car with eight scheduled laps to go to bring out the race’s penultimate caution.

Race results

1. Joey Logano

2. Kevin Harvick

3. Kyle Busch

4. Kyle Larson

5. Clint Bowyer

6. Kurt Busch

7. Chase Elliott

8. Aric Almirola

9. Cole Custer

10. William Byron

11. Brad Keselowski

12. Jimmie Johnson

13. Matt DiBenedetto

14. Alex Bowman

15. Ty Dillon

16. Michael McDowell

17. Chris Buescher

18. Ryan Preece

19. Bubba Wallace

20. Denny Hamlin

21. Daniel Suarez

22. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

23. Ross Chastain

24. Christopher Bell

25. John Hunter Nemechek

26. JJ Yeley

27. Corey LaJoie

28. Erik Jones

29. Joey Gase

30. Reed Sorenson

31. Brennan Poole

32. Martin Truex Jr. 

33. Tyler Reddick

34. Quin Houff

35. Garrett Smithley

36. Austin Dillon

37. Ryan Blaney

38. Timmy Hill

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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