NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - DAYTONA 500

February 20, 2023

Track: Daytona International Speedway   
Race: DAYTONA 500
Date: February 19, 2023  

Austin Cindric | No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang

Start: 6th
Stage 1: 13th
Stage 2: 5th
Finish: 23
Laps Led: 0

Race Rundown: Austin Cindric and the No. 2 Discount Tire team orchestrated a strong performance in Sunday afternoon's 65th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway until being collected in a late-race accident that left the driver with a 23rd-place finish. Cindric started sixth and was a mainstay among the top 10 for most of the opening segment where he finished 13th. Expeditious work by the pit crew gained the Team Penske driver multiple positions for the start of Stage 2. Cindric continued to charge around the front of the draft until an issue with the hood caused it to bounce around in certain instances. Nifty work from the No. 2 crew corrected the issue with 90 to go and the 24-year-old driver finished Stage 2 in the fifth position. The 2022 DAYTONA 500 Champion again started strong for the final dash to the checkers, keeping the Discount Tire Ford Mustang in contention up until the final laps when he received extensive damage to the left-front side of the car. Nursing the car to the checkered flag, Cindric finished 23rd. 

Cindric's Thoughts: "Our Discount Tire Ford Mustang was up front all race. Jeremy (Bullins) had a great strategy, and the pit crew did an incredible job all day getting us spots no matter what the strategy call was. We kept the car up front, the green flag cycle just didn't work in our favor. I thought we had really executed that well, the timing of it just definitely lost us some track position. I was able to help get the 22 (Joey Logano) to the front, but probably not help myself; although, it's a shame they came so close to a win. Just got caught up in a wreck with nowhere to go. It's a normal deal with this type of racing. It's fun to come here with as much speed as we had. Just not enough by the end of the race."

Ryan Blaney | No. 12 Menards/BlueDef/Peak Ford Mustang

Start: 7th
Stage 1: 20th
Stage 2: 33rd
Finish: 8th
Laps Led: 1

Race Rundown: Ryan Blaney fought his way back from two laps down to secure an eighth-place finish in the 65th running of the Daytona 500 Sunday afternoon. After green flag pit stops cycled in Stage 2, Blaney's No. 12 Ford Mustang came off pit road in second place behind teammate Joey Logano as the field began to come back together. On lap 118, Blaney was collected in an incident in turn four resulting in significant right-side damage that required several trips down pit road under caution.

On lap 140, Blaney had a right-front tire go down in turns three and four to bring out the caution as the No. 12 team continued to make repairs to the right side. As he continued to log laps in the final stage, Blaney benefitted from multiple late-race cautions to get back on the lead lap on lap 197 and was scored 15th heading into the second overtime attempt. Despite getting held up in the race-ending caution on the second green-white-checkered try, Blaney came away with an eighth-place finish.

Blaney's Thoughts:  “You know, unfortunately getting tore up in the second stage and I thought we did a good job fixing it and staying in it and got a couple of laps back and were able to get it driving decent enough to where we lined up in the top-15 and were able to miss some wrecks and finish okay. I am really proud of the effort to fix it and make it driveable and get a finish. It is unfortunate that we couldn't race for a win.” 

Joey Logano | No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang

Start: 3rd
Stage 1: 18th
Stage 2: 4th
Finish: 2nd
Laps Led: 12

Race Rundown: Joey Logano fought a tight-handling No. 22 Ford Mustang in the front of the field during the early going of Sunday afternoon's Daytona 500. After finishing Stage 1 in 18th, Logano took the lead for the first time on lap 111 following a green flag pit cycle with teammates Ryan Blaney and Austin Cindric in the draft behind him. Logano ultimately settled for a fourth-place result in Stage 2 and restarted the final stage 18th. Green flag pit stops on lap 180 cycled Logano to second place before a late-race caution sent the race to overtime where he restarted second in line in the outside lane. Logano was pushed to the lead with two to go, but the inside line formed to get by him prior to the caution flag waving, setting up another green-white-checkered attempt. Logano again made a charge to the front on the second overtime attempt and challenged Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for the lead, although his efforts were halted with a race-ending caution.

Logano's Thoughts:  “Second is the worst, man. You're so close. Leading the white flag lap there, I was up front. Kyle gave me a good push and, yeah, you're watching in the mirror and you're three wide across there. I felt like the three wide was going a hurt a lane; looked like Kyle was getting pushed ahead, and then Ricky started getting pushed ahead. I knew if I went to the bottom my car didn't handle good enough. I already got pushed off the bottom once and I thought, if I go down there I'm probably going to get wrecked, and I don't know if I can get down there in time to throw the block and so I didn't want to wreck my car either. Then you don't expect them to wreck either. You think you're racing to the checkered flag and you put yourself in the best position to try to win at the start-finish line, and just caution came out -- you wish you could race to the end. Obviously you can't when they wreck that much.”

What's Next: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Auto Club Speedway for the Pala Casino 400 on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 3:30 PM ET on FOX.