Penske Racing
Team Penske Media Site
NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Talladega II
October 2, 2023


START: 7TH    

RACE RUNDOWN: Patience, grit and determination – those were the themes of the race for Austin Cindric and the No. 2 Discount Tire team Sunday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway after overcoming a pit road speeding penalty to record a strong, fifth-place finish. Cindric fired off from the seventh position following a solid qualifying effort on Saturday that saw the entire fleet of Team Penske Fords claim starting positions among the top-10. Once the race got underway, the field wasted little time forming a third line as three-wide racing developed by lap five. Riding the momentum, Cindric made his first trip down pit lane on lap 39, shortly before forging ahead to the race lead on lap 43 with teammate Ryan Blaney in tow. As the momentum of the pack evolved, Cindric remained a frontrunner and finished Stage 1 in the sixth position. At the Stage break, the 25-year-old racer reported that the balance was a little on the free side and the car needed to be tightened up a tick. After a visit to pit road for four new tires, fuel and an adjustment, Cindric restarted seventh. The energy of the draft continued to intensify, and Cindric charged to the point again just a handful of laps after Stage 2 went green. During the green flag pit cycle on lap 107, Cindric was issued a speeding penalty during his venture to pit lane for a fuel-only stop. After doing a pass-through, he fell outside the top 30 and went a lap down, finishing Stage 2 in the 34th position. Trapped a lap down, Cindric remained focused as he battled to get back on the lead lap. He continued to be a lap down to the leaders until he was scored in the free-pass position when a caution slowed the field with just 17 laps remaining, bolstering the No. 2 machine back into the mix. In preparation for the battle to the finish, crew chief Brian Wilson called the driver to pit road for a four-tire stop. Determined to replicate his stance from earlier in the race, Cindric rapidly maneuvered through the field over the final push to claim a solid top-five finish.
CINDRIC'S THOUGHTS:  "It's certainly good to get a top-10 with the Discount Tire Ford. Who'd have thought that Talladega would be the first place we would get a finish in a month without any damage or hitting anything. I put us behind with a speeding penalty and was still able to recover at the end. I'm super happy for Ryan and everybody on the 12 team to be able to come out and knock off a win into the next round. It's very well deserved. We brought some really fast cars at Team Penske, Ford Performance, Roush Yates Engines, everybody did a great job this weekend and it paid off." 

START: 10TH     
STAGE TWO: 13TH     
FINISH: 1ST      

RACE RUNDOWN: Ryan Blaney punched his ticket to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with his ninth career Cup Series victory Sunday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway, winning by a margin of 0.012 seconds to secure his third win at Talladega. Blaney earned Team Penske's 11th Talladega victory Sunday as the organization has won 10 of the last 19 races at the 2.66-mile superspeedway while his third win ties him for second-most with Joey Logano among Team Penske drivers, trailing only Brad Keselowski (5). With the win, Blaney clinched his third-career appearance in the Round of 8, all coming in consecutive seasons. After starting the afternoon 11 points below the cut line, Blaney charged his way to the front from the tenth starting position and was up to second in the running order within the first 10 laps. Following the green flag pit cycle that saw the Team Penske cars hit pit road on lap 39 for fuel only, Blaney linked up with teammate Austin Cindric as the pair powered their way to the front of the field with ten laps to go in the opening stage. Coming to the green-and-white checkered flag on lap 60, Blaney swung to the outside lane to take the lead on the backstretch and held his position as the caution flag flew following an incident in turn three, crediting him with his fourth stage win of the season. After winning the race off pit road following a four-tire stop under caution, Blaney led the field to green from the inside of row one to open Stage 2 but was shuffled to the middle of the pack by the time the stage reached the halfway point. Blaney cycled back to fourth in the running order following a fuel only stop on lap 105, but ultimately settled for a 13th-place finish in the stage after getting shoved out of line with six laps remaining in the segment. Blaney rallied to get back in contention for the win by staying loyal to a strong inside lane as the field continued to click off laps, situating the Menards/Pennzoil Ford Mustang second in line on the bottom behind the No. 24. The caution flag flew on lap 162 with 27 laps to go due to a multi-car incident in the tri-oval, allowing Blaney to come to pit road to top off on fuel for the final run of the afternoon. Blaney lined up on the inside of row two with 20 laps to go and pushed his way clear of the outside lane before the yellow was displayed again on lap 171 for debris on the backstretch. Blaney chose the outside of row one for the ensuing restart as the field took the green with 13 to go and, despite a slow restart from the outside lane, he made his way back to the front by working with the No. 4 as the two battled an inside lane full of Chevrolets. After the field worked its way to the line to take the white flag, Blaney made the eventual race-winning move by darting beneath the No. 4 shortly after the exit of turn two and battled side-by-side with Kevin Harvick to get to the point. As the field worked its way off turn four, a multi-car incident unraveled behind the leaders but Blaney prevailed in the end, crossing the start-finish line ahead of the No. 4 by 0.012 seconds to claim the checkered flag for his ninth-career win.
Blaney enters the third and final race of the Round of 12 in fourth in the points standings and locked into the Round of 8 with Sunday's victory.

BLANEY'S THOUGHTS: "It was a pretty wild restart, let alone the last couple of laps losing momentum and getting it back, just getting clear to the bottom to get to the front row and drag race it out with Kevin. I'm just proud of the whole 12 group. Pennzoil, Menards, BODYARMOR, DEX Imaging, Advance Auto Parts, Wurth, everybody who makes this possible. To win here three times at Talladega is super cool. I have to give a big thanks to Riley Herbst. He did a really good job there the last couple restarts. He doesn't have a lot of Cup starts, but he did a great job and pushed me so thanks to him. This is so cool."

"I've won it by more than I have the last couple years. That one might have been by four feet, the others were by two but you just don't know. You just kind of drag race a line and hope you get help. William [Byron] gave me a pretty good shove on the bottom. He was kind of forced to, but I wasn't sure until Josh [Williams] said something. Josh did a fantastic job on the roof like always. This is always such a special place to win at so I can't wait to drive to victory lane."

START: 2ND    
FINISH: 24TH     

RACE RUNDOWN: Joey Logano led a race-high 48 laps but ultimately settled for a 24th-place finish Sunday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway. After leading the field to green from the outside of row one, Logano quickly cleared the inside lane to take the lead while protecting runs from all three lanes forming up behind him. Logano found success running the bottom lane and had a strong start to the 500-mile event prior to the start of green flag pit stops on lap 39. Following a fuel-only stop, Logano found himself at the tail-end of the lead pack as the end of Stage 1 approached. A multi-car incident in turn three on the final lap of the 60-lap stage brought an end to the segment while Logano was gaining ground towards the front and successfully avoided the wreck to secure a ninth-place finish in Stage 1. Following a four-tire stop during the stage break, Logano lined up for the restart from the inside of row three and reported a tight-handling condition to begin the run. After jockeying for position in the middle of the pack throughout the run, the Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang hit pit road on lap 105 for fuel only and Logano rode the outside lane up to second in the running order before reclaiming the lead with 10 to go in the stage. Logano ultimately settled for a third-place finish in Stage 2 as the outside lane gained momentum on the final lap of the 60-lap segment. The No. 22 team won the race off pit road with a quick, four-tire stop under caution and maintained the lead for the opening laps of the final stage. Despite being shuffled out of line on lap 150, Logano was scored 10th when the caution flag flew for a multi-car incident in the tri-oval with 27 to go. The No. 22 team opted to take right side tires only under caution to help alleviate a loose-handling condition as Logano lined up to restart ninth. He continued to battle within the top-10 over the course of the final 10 laps, but a multi-car incident in the tri-oval on the final lap thwarted Logano's momentum as he settled for a 24th-place finish.

LOGANO'S THOUGHTS: "We brought a really solid Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang this weekend but, unfortunately, didn't have the result to show for it today. We led a lot of laps and had it out front most of the day. It's tough to have that kind of speed all day and have nothing to show for it in the end. Really glad we were able to get Team Penske back in victory lane today with Blaney and the 12 team - we had solid speed throughout the company and there's a lot to be proud of there.

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the final race in the Round of 12 on Sunday, October 8. Coverage of the Bank of America ROVAL 400 begins at 2 pm E.T. on NBC, PRN Radio and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.


» Print this story