RACE RUNDOWN: Austin Cindric, driver of the No. 2 Menards/Libman Ford Mustang, was in contention for a top-15 finish in the Cook Out 400 at Martinsville Speedway until an incident in the closing laps relegated the driver to a 23rd-place result. Cindric started the 400-lap race from the 14th position and reported early on that he was struggling with drive. The 25-year-old NASCAR Cup Series driver made his first trip to pit road at the conclusion of Stage 1 for fresh tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. After restarting 16th for the launch of the second segment, Cindric radioed in to his team on Lap 105 to communicate an improvement in the car on exit. When a caution slowed the field a handful of laps later on Lap 113 for debris, the No. 2 stayed out and restarted 15th, and remained there through the end of Stage 2. After paying a visit to the Menards/Libman pit crew for a four-tire service stop, Cindric lined up 15th for the restart, but dropped down the scoring pylon a few positions after the green flag waved. He made his final trek to pit road with just under 90 laps to go and was in contention for a top-15 result in overtime, but was involved in accident that dropped the Team Penske driver back to 23rd when the checkered flag flew.

CINDRIC’S THOUGHTS: “We had solid speed in the Menards/Libman Ford Mustang, but the strategy didn’t quite pan out and I lost us a couple spots with the choose. It’s just so hard to make up track position. We have some areas to improve on and we’ll regroup this week and get ready for Texas.”


RACE RUNDOWN: Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang team paired strategy and late-race speed to rally for a fifth-place finish Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, marking Blaney’s fourth top-five finish in his last five starts at the Virginia short track. Following a 12th-place finish in Stage 1, Blaney had to make an additional trip to pit road during the stage break to tighten a loose wheel, sending him back to 24th for the ensuing restart. The handling began to settle in for the Advance Auto Parts Ford over the course of the second stage, but passing was at a premium throughout the afternoon as Blaney settled for a 20th-place finish in Stage 2. Crew chief Jonathan Hassler made the call for right side tires only as the field hit pit road during the stage break, gaining the 12-team a dozen positions with the strategy play and allowing Blaney to restart from eighth for the final run of the day. Blaney settled into 10th in the running order over the course of the longest green flag run of afternoon before being called to pit road on lap 297 for four tires and a round of adjustments. He cycled to seventh in the running order after a majority of the field completed the green flag pit cycle when Blaney began to make his charge to the front, climbing to fifth on the leaderboard with 55 laps to go. The caution flag flew with three laps remaining to set up a green-white-checkered finish for the second-consecutive week and Blaney took the green flag from the outside of row two, but the top lane was unable to gain any momentum in the final two laps resulting in a fifth-place finish.

BLANEY’S THOUGHTS: “We got good at the end. It was an uphill battle for sure. We had the issue on pit road and had to restart in the back and nobody could pass anybody. [Crew chief] Jonathan [Hassler] made a good call to put two on it at the start of the third stage and we kind of established ourselves a little bit back in the top-10. We were able to work on our car again once we got a little clean air and seeing what the car was doing and how to get it better. After the green flag stop I was really fast. I passed a handful of guys. I was kind of shocked. I held on pretty good but stalled out when I got to the 11. Overall, I am proud of the fight back from our group. Obviously not the first half of the race we wanted and we didn’t get any stage points, but I am proud of the fight and perseverance of the Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang 12-team. We will go on to Texas.”


RACE RUNDOWN: Joey Logano wheeled the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang to a sixth-place finish Sunday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway, marking an even 10-straight races with a top-10 result at the Virginia short track. Logano started from sixth and maintained his track position throughout the 80-lap first stage before crew chief Paul Wolfe made the call for right side tires only during the stage break as the 22-team won the race off pit road to restart Stage 2 from the point. Logano was able to keep the field in his mirror for almost the entirety of the second stage before the left side tires began to wear out as he lost the battle for the lead with 11 laps left in the segment before ultimately coming away with a fifth-place finish in Stage 2. After restarting the final stage from seventh, Logano settled in on four fresh tires as a long, green flag run ensued before the pit cycle began with just over 100 laps to go. Wolfe called Logano to pit road on lap 299 for four tires and fuel and the No. 22 cycled to eighth in the running order as the laps began to wind down. With three laps to go, the caution flag flew for a single-car incident to set up a green-white-checkered finish for the second-consecutive week. Logano took the green flag from the inside of row four and carried the momentum from the low line to cross the line sixth. Logano led a season-high 84 laps on the afternoon while gaining five spots in the driver points standings with the result.

LOGANO’S THOUGHTS: “It was a solid day. I think we got fifth or sixth place points in each stage, somewhere around there. We led a bunch of laps. We got out front, but the tire came apart at the end of that stage there, which cost us a stage win, unfortunately. We took that risk to do it and ended up in the same spot that we were going to be, so really no risk there. After that, we kind of lost control of the race, and once that happened, once you lost the lead, nobody was going to pass anybody. The only car I saw passing was the 12. That was pretty impressive. The rest of us just followed each other all day.”

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for Round 9 of the 2024 season on Sunday, April 14 for the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400. Coverage begins at 3:00 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

Team Penske PR