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Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Daytona II
August 27, 2023

DATE: AUGUST 26, 2023

START: 16TH    
FINISH: 37TH    

RACE RUNDOWN: Collected in a chaotic crash on the final lap of Stage 2, Austin Cindric was credited with a 37th-place finish in Saturday night's NASCAR Cup Series regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway. Cindric lined up 16th for the start of the 400-mile sprint and reported early on that the balance of the No. 2 Menards/Cardell Ford Mustang was not bad, but that the car was bouncing in turns one and two. Riding the momentum of the draft in the top lane over the course of the 35-lap segment, Cindric charged up into the top-10 to claim a strong, seventh-place finish at the conclusion of Stage 1. By then, the car had trended toward a tight condition. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins called the 2022 DAYTONA 500 winner to pit road for a four-tire pit stop with wedge and air pressure adjustments under the stage break. Cindric elected to take the bottom lane for the restart, lining up 11th for the beginning of Stage 2. The aggression of the field quickly elevated as the pack went three-wide. Cindric remained in the bottom lane until dropping to pit road on Lap 84 for left-side tires and fuel. Coming to the stripe on the final lap of Stage 2, a multi-car crash ensued ahead of Cindric, leaving the driver with no clear path to escape the mayhem. After being towed to the attention of the Menards/Cardell crew, it was determined that the damage was too severe to continue, leaving the 24-year-old racer with a 37th-place result. 
CINDRIC'S THOUGHTS: "Obviously, a big wreck off of four. I was kind of at the tail end of the pack, so I'm a little disappointed I couldn't get checked up and avoid it and still have a shot to win the race tonight, so just disappointed to be in a situation to have to win tonight, but thankful for everybody at Team Penske and the 2 car all year for working their tails off trying to get us a win tonight."

START: 8TH     
STAGE ONE: 22ND     
STAGE TWO: 31ST     
FINISH: 36TH      

RACE RUNDOWN: Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 Advance Auto Parts team's night was cut short Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway after being collected in a multi-car incident while leading the field to the green-and-white checkered flag at the conclusion of Stage 2. Following a 22nd-place finish in the first 35-lap segment of the night, Blaney charged into the top-10 using the middle lane in the opening laps of Stage 2. By lap 60, he made the move to the top lane as it began to take shape with a train of Fords powering to the front, allowing Blaney to enter the top-five on lap 65. As the field continued to battle two and three-wide, Blaney made the move to the bottom lane and received a massive shove to the front and led his first of four laps on lap 77. Shortly after, green flag pit stops began to cycle with the No. 12 team bringing Blaney to pit road on lap 82 for fuel only to make it to the end of Stage 2. The field was back to running in a large pack with ten laps remaining in the stage when Blaney yet again charged to the front, this time using the high line as the intensity picked up. Blaney darted below the No. 54 on the backstretch to take over the top spot heading into turns three and four, but the No. 54 was turned into his right rear quarter panel on the exit of turn four sending Blaney into the outside wall and setting off a multi-car incident in the process. Despite leading at the time, Blaney's night came to an abrupt end in a 36th-place finish.

Blaney enters the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs 12th in the points standings to begin the Round of 16, one point above the cutline.

BLANEY'S THOUGHTS:  "I'm alright. I don't know. I guess it kind of seems like the 54 got turned into me. The 20 shoved him and it was kind of just a weird spot, I guess, and I got right-reared, so not in a fun spot. It's a shame.  We had a fast car and came from the back to the front multiple times and thought we made a good move to try to win the stage and just can't catch a break. Luckily, everyone is alright. We'll go to next week."

START: 14TH     
STAGE TWO: 10TH     
FINISH: 5TH     

RACE RUNDOWN: Joey Logano and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil team capped off the 2023 Cup Series regular season with their eighth top-five finish of the season Saturday night in the Coke Zero Sugar 400. After starting the 400-mile event 14th, Logano settled into the outside lane and battled a bit of a loose-handling condition on the opening run of the night before making his way into the top-10 in the closing laps of Stage 1. As the top lane continued to build momentum, Logano continued to charge to the front and posted a fifth-place finish in the opening 35-lap segment. The No. 22 team won the race off pit road following a four-tire stop during the stage break as Logano lined up on the inside of row one to take the green flag for Stage 2. The formation of a third lane in the opening laps of Stage 2 forced Logano to run the top lane with a line of Fords pushing behind him with fuel-only pit stops looming as a long, green flag run ensued. Logano was called to pit road on lap 82 to take enough fuel to make it to the end of the stage and once the field cycled back into a large pack, he dropped out of the main draft with two laps remaining in the stage. The move paid off as a multi-car incident in turn four unraveled in front of Logano on the final lap of the stage, allowing him to pick up a 10th-place finish. Following a lengthy red flag for track cleanup, Logano made his way to pit road for his final four tire stop of the night during the stage break and lined up to restart 12th for the final run of the night. Logano battled his way back into the top-five 50 laps to go before the field began to run single file once the inside line deteriorated, relegating him to 13th in the running order. Following one final stop for fuel under green on lap 147, Logano settled into ninth on the leaderboard and pushed the inside line to the front of the field with ten laps to go. The caution flag flew with five laps remaining to set up a green-white-checkered finish as Logano chose the outside of row four with three Fords ahead of him. On the ensuing restart, Logano remained loyal to the outside line and pushed forward to cross the line fifth in the regular season finale.

Logano enters the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs 11th in the points standings to begin the Round of 16, one point above the cutline.

LOGANO'S THOUGHTS: "Solid run tonight for our Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang to cap off the regular season here. We had good speed and drove up through the field several times tonight, so to come away fifth with a clean car is a good night. [Chris Buescher] and [Brad Keselowski] were just so good at staying hooked up at the end there and we just couldn't quite get to them in those last two laps. We're ready to go for these next ten weeks."

WHAT'S NEXT: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Darlington Raceway to kick off the Round of 16 on Sunday, September 3rd. Coverage for the Cook Out Southern 500 begins at 6 p.m. E.T. on USA, MRN Radio and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

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