Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report – DAYTONA 500


RACE RUNDOWN: Austin Cindric, driver of the No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang, was in contention to etch his name in DAYTONA 500 history as a two-time champion in the closing laps of Sunday’s 66th running of the Great American Race until chaos struck on the final lap. Cindric, the 2022 DAYTONA 500 winner, rolled off the grid from the sixth position and remained a force throughout the opening 65-lap segment alongside his Team Penske teammates Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano, but as varying pit sequences played out, Cindric finished Stage 1 in the 15th position. Under the Stage break, Cindric headed to pit road for four fresh tires and fuel in advance of the Lap 71 restart. As the field went three-wide early in second segment and the momentum of the lanes fluctuated, the No. 2 shuffled positions, rejoining the top 10 just 20 laps into Stage 2. The 25-year-old racer returned to pit road for a swift fuel-only pit stop before ultimately taking the race lead on Lap 118. Cindric, in a side-by-side battle with Kyle Busch for the sprint to the Stage end, finished the segment second to teammate Blaney after the hard-charging driver powered around the No. 2 Ford Mustang on the final lap. Pleased with the handling of the car, Cindric visited the Discount Tire pit crew once again for new tires and fuel ahead of the restart. Cindric maneuvered his way back to the front of the pack as the action intensified, vying for the race lead until getting collected in a last-lap accident that relegated the Team Penske driver to a 22nd-place finish.

CINDRIC’S THOUGHTS: “A really unfortunate end. We had a shot to win the DAYTONA 500 in the No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang. We were really in great position with the outside lane breaking up and kind of one-on-one with the 24 with the whole pack behind, so you can’t really ask for anything else other than that out of myself and the team. It just sucks a little bit.”


RACE RUNDOWN: Despite starting at the tail end of the field for the 66th running of the DAYTONA 500, Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 Menards/PEAK team were in contention for the race win until a multi-car incident with eight laps to go dashed their hopes Monday night. After crew chief Jonathan Hassler’s strategy call to not pit following the first caution of the day on lap five, Blaney took the ensuing green flag from the inside of row one as he and the No. 20 – who also stayed out during the caution – controlled the pace of the field while trying to conserve fuel during the first long, green flag run of Stage 1. The Team Penske Fords all hit pit road together under green on lap 40 for fuel but were not able to keep pace with the lead pack as Blaney was scored 32nd at the conclusion of the opening stage. Following a four-tire stop prior to the start of Stage 2, Blaney charged to the front of the field using the third lane on the outside and was scored sixth in the running order by lap 75. A fuel-only stop on lap 115 under green saw Blaney cycle back to third before cutting to the inside of the No. 2 in turn four on the final lap of Stage 2 to pick up his first stage win of the season. Blaney took the green flag for the final stage from the outside of row two but faded to the tail end of the lead pack during the initial run. With 20 laps to go, Blaney and a host of Ford teammates hit pit road for fuel only as the Menards/PEAK Mustang cycled back to ninth in the running order with 16 laps remaining. Blaney and teammate Joey Logano led a hard-charging third lane with under 10 to go as the field was committed to running three-wide, but contact in the middle lane sent the No. 6 up the track and set off a multi-car incident in turn three, collecting Blaney and ending his night eight laps short of the checkered flag in Daytona.

BLANEY’S THOUGHTS: “You’re kind of always watching when you’re in there and especially if you’re on [the top lane] you can kind of watch and see how well their pushes are and it just looked like the 48 kind of got the 24 out of shape and just happened to get the 6 in the right-rear and unfortunately we were in the top lane. It’s an early end to our night, but we were up there in it and just wasn’t our weekend.”


RACE RUNDOWN: After claiming Team Penske’s first-ever DAYTONA 500 pole award Wednesday night, Joey Logano and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang led the field to green in Monday afternoon’s 66th running of The Great American Race. Logano led his first of a race-high – and DAYTONA 500 career-best – 45 laps prior to a green flag pit stop for fuel only on lap 40 that saw the No. 22 battle back through the field for an 11th-place finish in Stage 1. Following a four-tire stop and a round of adjustments at the stage break, Logano lined up to restart 11th before forming a third lane on the outside that worked its way to the front of the field. Logano was one of several cars to hit pit road under green on lap 111 for fuel only and led the group off pit road from the first pit stall. After cycling back to seventh in the running order after green flag stops were complete, Logano was shuffled out of the lead pack and ultimately settled for a 21st-place finish in Stage 2. Logano lined up 13th to begin the final stage and worked all three lanes as momentum shifted constantly, allowing him to move back into the top-10 with 50 laps to go. The Shell-Pennzoil Mustang was back out front with 38 to go before the Fords hit pit road for their final fuel stops of the night as Logano found himself battling for the lead in the outside lane with under 20 laps remaining. With teammate Ryan Blaney pushing Logano to the front with eight laps to go, contact in the lane below the pair of teammates sent the No. 6 up the track and into the left rear of Logano, setting off a multi-car incident in turn three that brought an end to Logano’s bid for a second DAYTONA 500 title.

LOGANO’S THOUGHTS: “That’s very much how speedway racing is. It’s part of it. You’re pushing and shoving there at the end. We had the cars that could take it and were doing really well. I had Blaney behind me. I thought, ‘Man, if I could pick one, that’s the one I want. I’m in a great position here’ and just had to find the right opportunity to slip the 1 again because the 6 wasn’t working with us, so I felt if I could keep the 12 with me I’m going to be in a decent spot, but it just didn’t work out. The car was so fast. The car was the fastest car on the track. I could lead a line. Whenever we weren’t saving fuel she was a rocket ship. It’s just how this game works. The wreck always starts in the front and you hope you’re in front of it. Second place isn’t far enough ahead.”

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Ambetter Health 400 on Sunday, February 25. Coverage begins at 3:00 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

Team Penske PR