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Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Texas
September 25, 2023


START: 32ND    
FINISH: 27TH    

RACE RUNDOWN: Austin Cindric finished 27th in Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at a blazing-hot Texas Motor Speedway after unfortunately falling out of the race a few laps shy of the checkered flag. The Discount Tire Ford Mustang powered off the grid from the 32nd position and battled ride quality issues for the duration of the event. Under caution on lap 41, Cindric informed his team over the radio that there was a bouncing movement in the rear of the car that intensified as the run progressed. Cindric steered the No. 2 car to pit road for service and adjustments and restarted 25th ahead of a series of quick cautions that would immediately follow. On lap 75, the 25-year-old racer relayed another update, saying that his entry was loose in both ends of track and that a vibration was developing. Crew Chief Brian Wilson called the driver to pit lane for another four-tire stop for the sprint to the end of Stage 1, in which Cindric finished 28th. Cindric continued to reiterate the bouncing issue, specifically its impact in the middle lane. Remaining in the fight, Cindric powered through to the end of Stage 2, crossing the stripe 30th in line. At the attention of the Discount Tire pit crew under the stage break, Cindric received a fresh set of tires and adjustments for the launch of the third and final stage. With just under 85 laps remaining, the Team Penske driver radioed in to express the overall tightness of the car. Needing to be freed up, Cindric pitted for tires, fuel, wedge and air pressure adjustments under caution with 58 laps to go, reporting that the prior adjustments made the car tighter. The No. 2 Ford Mustang took the green flag 29th for the restart and remained determined until getting collected in a multi-car incident on lap 257. The race-ending incident left the driver with a 27th-place result in the Lone Star State.  
CINDRIC'S THOUGHTS: "I really struggled with the ride quality in the car, but I feel like we learned a bunch today in the Discount Tire Ford Mustang. Not necessarily something that is going to make us faster right off the bat, but we definitely found a lot of limitations today that will hopefully help us in the future. It was unfortunate to get caught up in that wreck and not be able to finish the race, but we wanted to be able to save the engine for another day. We’ll move on to Talladega." 

START: 23RD     
FINISH: 28TH      

RACE RUNDOWN: Ryan Blaney secured valuable points in the opening two stages of Sunday afternoon’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway to begin the Round of 12, but the No. 12 Menards/Dutch Boy Ford Mustang was collected in a late-race, multi-car incident, resulting in a 28th-place finish. After running 24th in the latter stages of Stage 1 while battling a tight-handling race car, the caution flag flew on lap 73 and Blaney was one of eight cars to not hit pit road, vaulting him to eighth in the running order before a one-lap shootout to end the stage. Blaney crossed the line seventh in the opening stage and again stayed out during the stage break as he lined up to restart on the inside of row three for the second, 85-lap segment. The Menards/Dutch Boy Ford Mustang settled into seventh in the running order during the opening run of the stage as Blaney began to report a tight-handling condition on old tires within the first 15 laps of the run. The caution flag flew on lap 110 and crew chief Jonathan Hassler dialed in another strategy call, bringing Blaney in for right side tires and fuel to come off pit road second for the following restart. Despite battling the No. 23 for the lead after taking the green, Blaney eventually settled into fifth in the running order as the handling began to dissipate with the laps winding down in Stage 2. Blaney continued to forge ahead, crossing the stripe fourth in the stage with another round of pit stops looming. Following a four-tire stop and a round of adjustments during the stage break, Blaney settled back into fourth on the leaderboard as the racing surface began to widen out – especially in turns three and four. The caution flag flew again on lap 208 as the leaders hit pit road and Blaney was scored fifth at the timing line following another four-tire stop but was flagged for speeding in section two of pit road, relegating him to the tail end of the longest line on the following restart. After taking the green flag with 58 laps remaining, Blaney began his charge through the field and was scored 20th when the yellow flag was displayed yet again on lap 248, setting up another restart with 13 laps to go. As the field worked its way off turn four, the Nos. 45 and 43 made contact with the outside wall ahead of Blaney, causing the outside line to check up and sending the No. 12 for a spin across the frontstretch. Blaney sustained significant damage to the right rear and despite the team’s efforts to get him back on track, he was unable to make minimum speed, resulting in a 28th-place finish.
Blaney enters the second race of the Round of 12 in 11th in the points standings, 11 points below the cut line.

BLANEY'S THOUGHTS: "Up and down day, definitely. And ended with a down. Proud of this group for getting a little better all day and good strategy. We took [right side tires] to get track position and then the car was ok, just kind of hanging on. We got better and then I sped [on pit road]. That really took us out of it. Took us out of having a good finish. When you put yourself back there then you get in a wreck. A slight sliver of hope and proud of the work all day on getting better and getting stage points but a driver mistake puts us back in the stuff and getting wrecked. Not a very good job by me today but proud of everyone on this Menards/Dutch Boy Ford Mustang group. They did the best they could. We’re still not out of it. We’ll head to Talladega not too many points out. Hopefully we can rack up some there."

START: 20TH     
STAGE ONE: 20TH     
STAGE TWO: 27TH     
FINISH: 21ST     

RACE RUNDOWN: Joey Logano and the No. 22 AAA Insurance team came away with a 21st-place finish in Sunday afternoon’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. Logano reported a very loose-handling condition during the opening run of the day, prompting a scheduled green flag stop on lap 39 for four tires and a round of adjustments, but the caution flag flew just four laps later during the pit cycle to trap the No. 22 team a lap down while scored 30th. After taking the wave-around under caution to rejoin the lead lap, the yellow was brought out shortly after the restart and crew chief Paul Wolfe brought Logano to pit road for an extended stop to work on the front end in an effort to alleviate the early handling issues. With under ten laps remaining in the opening stage while running 28th, another caution saw Wolfe call for right side tires and fuel, gaining Logano ten spots in the running order prior to the subsequent restart as Logano crossed the line 20th in Stage 1. The handling issues continued to plague Logano and the No. 22 team over the course of the second stage as the AAA Insurance Ford began to work its way tight over the long run. Logano was credited with a 27th-place finish in Stage 2 with another four tire stop and adjustments forthcoming during the stage break. Three cautions over the course of the last 20 laps positioned Logano 14th in the running order as the field lined up to restart for the final time, but Logano was unable to gain ground in the closing laps, resulting in a 21st-place finish.

LOGANO'S THOUGHTS: "This No. 22 team fought hard all day. We took some big swings on adjustments every chance we had but couldn’t quite get the pace we needed to be in the mix. Track position is so critical here and we had to give that up at times in order to work on the balance which is a tradeoff you have to sacrifice on these kind of days. We’ll rerack and shift the focus to Talladega." 

WHAT'S NEXT: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway for the second race in the Round of 12 on Sunday, October 1. Coverage of the YellaWood 500 begins at 2 pm E.T. on NBC, MRN Radio and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

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