Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report – Darlington 1

AUSTIN CINDRIC No. 2 FREIGHTLINER FORD MUSTANG
START: 25TH STAGE ONE: 18TH STAGE TWO: 17TH FINISH: 20TH POINTS: 20TH

RACE RUNDOWN: Austin Cindric, driver of the No. 2 Freightliner Ford Mustang, finished 20th in Sunday afternoon’s Goodyear 400 at the historic Darlington Raceway. The 25-year-old Team Penske driver started 25th and made gains throughout the opening Stage, advancing up to the 18th position after the first pit cycle. Later in the run, the Freightliner Ford Mustang developed a significant vibration, but Cindric was able to manage it to finish 18th at the end of Stage 1. After visiting pit road for service under the break, the No. 2 fired off 17th for the restart. When the yellow flag slowed the field on Lap 120, Cindric informed the team that the car was “very tight” and returned to pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. The excessive vibration returned with just over 25 laps remaining in the second segment, but after another pit stop, he managed to finish 17th when Stage 2 concluded. With quick work by the Freightliner pit crew, Cindric lined up 15th for the launch of the final Stage at The Lady in Black. Over the course of the segment, Cindric slipped to 25th in the running order, but regained position in the closing stint, ultimately finishing 20th when the checkered flag flew.

CINDRIC’S THOUGHTS: “It was kind of up and down for us. I felt like we made some pretty good gains at the beginning of the race, jumping up quite a few spots on the pit cycle and just under green passing some cars. We kind of got lost in the middle of the race. We really struggled to get through one and two, which was hurting me in traffic, but I felt like we made the car better at the end. We grabbed a couple more spots from where we restarted, so I was back on another upswing, but not quite enough to recover from the way I qualified.”

RYAN BLANEY No. 12 MENARDS/MAYTAG FORD MUSTANG
START: 17TH STAGE ONE: 8TH STAGE TWO: 36TH FINISH: 36TH POINTS: 8TH

RACE RUNDOWN: Ryan Blaney was involved in a multi-car incident in Stage 2 that ultimately ended the day for the No. 12 Menards/Maytag Ford Mustang, resulting in a 36th-place finish at Darlington. Blaney and the 12 team had a strong start to Sunday’s Goodyear 400 as crew chief Jonathan Hassler opted to kept him on track until he was the last car to pit during the first green flag cycle, allowing Blaney to charge through the field from 30th on fresh tires to come away with an eighth-place finish in Stage 1. The 12 team picked up two spots on pit road following a four tire stop at the stage break as Blaney lined up sixth for the Stage 2 restart. A single car incident brought out the yellow on lap 121 and Blaney chose to restart from the outside of row three but was forced three-wide in turn one, resulting in the Nos. 24 and 19 making contact and sending the Menards/Maytag Ford into the outside wall off turn two and sustaining heavy contact to the rear bumper. The 12 team worked to make repairs to the right rear toe link on pit road under caution but the damaged vehicle policy clock expired, ending Blaney’s day.
BLANEY’S THOUGHTS: “Me and [Martin Truex Jr.] got put three-wide and it’s just a tight corner. The replay I saw, [William Byron] took up probably more racetrack than he should have after kind of rewatching it back. I thought it was just, kind of got tight, but you can’t run three-wide through there. Nobody wanted to lift and I got tagged and then kind of collected a few guys. [Byron] took up more track than I would have liked, honestly. He kind of sandwiched [Truex Jr.] into me, but it’s a really, really crappy end to our day. I thought we got pretty good. We came from not starting great and drove up there in the top 10 the first stage and finally got good pit stops and restarted sixth. I was ready to look forward to the second half of the race and never got a shot, and then the guy that causes it gets away scot-free. That’s what normally happens. It’s an unfortunate end to our day. I thought we could have learned some stuff today that could have helped us for the future and hopefully we can still take from what we learned today and apply it later on.”

JOEY LOGANO No. 22 SHELL-PENNZOIL FORD MUSTANG
START: 14TH STAGE ONE: 11TH STAGE TWO: 4TH FINISH: 21ST POINTS: 17TH

RACE RUNDOWN: Joey Logano and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang came away with a 21st-place finish Sunday afternoon at Darlington. After starting 14th, Logano made his way towards the top-10 on the opening run before settling into 12th in the running order following the first round of green flag pit stops. He battled through a loose-handling condition over the course of the ensuing run before crossing the line 11th in Stage 1. After restarting from the inside of row four to begin the second segment, Logano settled into eighth on the leaderboard but reported a tight-handling condition on corner entry to start the run. However, following a pair of cautions, Logano worked his way up into the top-five and eventually scored a fourth-place finish in Stage 2. Logano settled into fifth to begin the final segment as the 22 team planned to split the stage in half with its pit strategy. Despite a free-handling Shell-Pennzoil Ford when firing off, Logano continued to run strong in the top-five before being called to pit road under green with 56 laps to go. The four-tire stop cycled Logano to seventh when the final caution of the afternoon came out with 41 laps remaining, setting up one final round of pit stops. Logano was penalized for speeding on pit road before entering his stall, relegating him to the tail end of the field for the eventual final restart and culminating in a 21st-place finish.
LOGANO’S THOUGHTS: “We had a really solid day going with our Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang, just a really unfortunate ending. Everything really started to click for us in Stage 2 and we found a lot of pace on the long run. Tough way to see our run end but we’ll take the positives and continue forward.”

Up next on the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is a trip to the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway for the NASCAR All-Star Race on Sunday, May 19. The exhibition event is set for 8:00 p.m. ET with coverage on FS1, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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