Penske Racing

Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Bristol

September 17, 2023


START: 29TH    
FINISH: 32ND    

RACE RUNDOWN: Austin Cindric was scored in the 32nd position when the checkered flag flew on the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night after experiencing an early misfortune in the 500-lap event. The Team Penske driver put the No. 2 Menards/Monster Ford Mustang in the 29th position to start the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 16 finale. Misfortune struck on Lap 70 when the No. 16 of AJ Allmendinger bounced off the wall directly ahead of Cindric, leaving the No. 2 with nowhere to go on such short notice. The incident left the Menards/Monster machine with significant right-front damage. The crew made various repairs and adjustments over the remainder of the race as Cindric soldiered on despite the damage hindering the performance of the car. 
CINDRIC'S THOUGHTS: "Yeah, nowhere to go but up unfortunately for us. I guess when it rains, it pours. I had nowhere to go with the No. 16 early in the race, and got a ton of right-front damage and had to grind it out through the remaining laps in the race. It's really frustrating. On the flip side, I'm pretty upset and feel for the guys on the No. 22 team for not being able to make it to the next round. Those guys are championship contenders. It's a tough sport, but we've got a lot to fight for over the next couple of weeks."

START: 11TH     
STAGE ONE: 18TH     
STAGE TWO: 16TH     
FINISH: 22ND      

RACE RUNDOWN: Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 Advance Auto Parts team came away with a 22nd-place finish Saturday night a Bristol Motor Speedway to advance to the Round of 12 starting next weekend in Texas. Blaney battled many of the same handling issues he experienced in Friday's practice during the opening run of Stage 1 as he settled into 11th in the running order before the caution flag flew on lap 105 as rain began to fall around the half-mile oval. The No. 12 team brought Blaney to pit road under yellow for four tires and a round of adjustments with under 20 laps remaining in the opening stage – resulting in Blaney restarting 18th as several teams opted to stay out – as the Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang crossed the line 18th in Stage 1. Rainfall began to pick up shortly after the stage end, bringing out the red flag on lap 137 prior to the Stage 2 restart. After taking the green flag tenth, Blaney settled into 12th in the running order as the second stage went caution-free for the duration of the segment. Despite handling issues on worn out tires in the latter parts of the stage, Blaney rallied for a 16th-place finish in Stage 2. The No. 12 team continued to work on the balance with air pressure and wedge adjustments throughout the remainder of the 500-lap event but long, green-flag runs plagued their ability to gain track position late in the race. Blaney kept his Ford Mustang clean the rest of the way en route to a 22nd-place finish to clinch a spot in the Round of 12.

Blaney enters the Round of 12 in 11th in the points standings, six points below the cut line.

BLANEY'S THOUGHTS: "That's what we did - survived and advanced. It was not a pretty night by any means, but we ran all the laps and did what we needed to do. You'd like to have a little bit more speed and just be competitive and we weren't tonight, but we get to go on to the next round and reset and start off at Texas to see what we've got."

START: 28TH     
STAGE ONE: 24TH     
STAGE TWO: 31ST     
FINISH: 34TH     

RACE RUNDOWN: Joey Logano's run to defend his 2022 NASCAR Cup Series title came to close Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway after getting collected in a multi-car incident on lap 262 that brought the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil team's night to an abrupt end.  After starting 28th, Logano made up six spots in the first ten laps as he trended towards racing inside the top-20 while battling a loose-handling condition from the center of the corner through corner exit. The first caution flag of the night flew on lap 68 and Logano was one of six cars to stay on the race track under yellow in an effort to gain track position – and possible stage points – in the early going. Logano lined up fifth with 49 laps remaining in Stage 1 and kept his Ford Mustang in the top-10 on older tires before the yellow was displayed again on lap 105 for rain. After restarting seventh with 12 laps left in the segment, Logano was quickly forced out of line and began to fall through the field, resulting in a 24th-place finish in Stage 1. Logano was brought to pit road for the first time during the stage break for four tires and a round of adjustments to alleviate a loose-handling condition during the longer runs and lined up to restart 31st following a brief red flag on lap 137 for heavier rainfall in the area. The field took the green flag for what wound up being a caution-free second stage, resulting in a 31st-place finish in Stage 2. Following another four-tire stop under yellow, Logano was still scored above the Round of 12 cut line as he came to take the green from 26th in the running order. Shortly after the restart, the No. 7 went around and made contact with the inside wall, shooting him back up the racing surface at the entrance of turn three and into the left side of Logano's Ford Mustang as several cars piled into the back of him. Logano limped the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang back to pit road but the damage to the left rear was deemed irreparable, forcing an early exit in Bristol.

LOGANO'S THOUGHTS: "I knew my situation and what I needed to do, but it's Bristol and there's not really many things you do differently depending on your scenario. There's nothing I could have done there in that wreck. It's just a product of being back there and the way we raced or anything like that didn't affect that. The only thing that affected that is we were back there, so that's it. You don't go fast enough, you're in the back and they wreck in front of you at Bristol on a restart and you're going so fast that you can't whoa up or turn or do anything and you get kind of pile drive into the wreck. It's our own fault."

WHAT'S NEXT: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the first race in the Round of 12 on Sunday, September 24. Coverage of the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 begins at 3:30 pm E.T. on USA, PRN Radio and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

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