NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Auto Club Speedway

February 26, 2023

Track: Auto Club Speedway
Race: Pala Casino 400
Date: February 26, 2023  

Austin Cindric | No. 2 Menards/Quaker State Ford Mustang

Start: 19th
Stage 1: 23rd
Stage 2: 16th
Finish: 28th

Race Rundown: Austin Cindric finished 28th in Sunday's Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway after an unfortunate mishap early in Stage 3. Cindric rolled off the grid 19th after qualifying was rained out and the starting lineup was set per the NASCAR rule book. The Menards/Quaker State Mustang remained around that position in the running order through Stage 1, finishing 23rd. Under the break, the No. 2 underwent a round of adjustments and restarted 20th for the beginning of Stage 2. Multiple cautions slowed the field, and Cindric muscled forward to finish the segment 16th. The 24-year-old driver revisited the No. 2 pit crew for service and returned in the 12th position for the final sprint. Shortly after, the Team Penske Ford Mustang suffered damage early in Stage 3 after getting into the wall. A timely caution flew soon after, and the crew went to work on repairs to the right-rear side of the car. Cindric powered through the remaining laps to finish 28th. 

Cindric's Thoughts: "We kind of bounced around inside the top 20 for a lot of the day. We had some good restarts and some bad restarts. I felt like we had worked to get the car in a good direction by Stage 3 and had a good restart, but we just got fenced. I got hit again and had a little too much damage to stay competitive for the rest of the race. It's a bit of a shame because I felt like we were trending in the right direction by the end of the race, but overall tough start to our first two races finishing outside the top 20. Hopefully we can go to Vegas and have a regular weekend and get some solid points."

Ryan Blaney | No. 12 Wurth Ford Mustang

Start: 9th
Stage 1: 2nd
Stage 2: 29th
Finish: 26th

Race Rundown: Ryan Blaney had a solid start to Sunday's Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway, wheeling his No. 12 Würth Ford Mustang to the front of the field within the first 30 laps after starting ninth. Blaney drove up into the top-five on lap 8, then following a four-tire stop during the competition caution, he took his first lead of the day on lap 29 using the inside line. After an another four-tire stop under caution on lap 43, Blaney made his way around Daniel Suárez with four laps remaining in the stage to secure a second-place finish in Stage 1.

During the restart on lap 86, Blaney was collected in a multi-car incident on the front stretch after the outside lane stacked up, sending his Ford Mustang into the outside wall. The No. 12 team worked to repair damage to the nose and splitter over the course of several trips to pit road, ultimately resulting in a 26th-place finish. Blaney led twice for 16 laps on the day. 

Blaney's Thoughts: "Certainly not the day we wanted with the Würth Ford Mustang. We had a good car early, led some laps and got Stage points. Unfortunately we lost track position, and I had nowhere to go after the big wreck on the restart. Not the way we wanted our day to go. We'll look towards Vegas." 

Joey Logano | No. 22 AAA Southern California Ford Mustang

Start: 3rd
Stage 1: 7th
Stage 2: 3rd
Finish: 10th

Race Rundown: Joey Logano and the No. 22 team brought a strong AAA SoCal Ford Mustang to Sunday's Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway, running in the top-10 for a majority of the afternoon. Logano took his first lead of the day on lap 27 following a four-tire stop and a round of adjustments during the competition caution. After a seventh-place finish in Stage 1, Logano regained the lead on lap 74 despite battling a tight-handling condition at the beginning of the stint. A long green-flag run ensued following a caution on lap 76 when Logano began to report a vibration in the front end of his Ford Mustang, yet he managed to secure a third-place finish to complete the stage. 

Logano was the first of the leaders to make their way down pit road under green for the final round of stops and was running fourth by the time the field cycled through. Logano fought a loose-handling condition in the closing laps, resulting in a tenth-place finish. He led six times for 19 laps, marking the third-most on the afternoon. 

Logano's Thoughts: "It looked like we were in the hunt. We weren't the best car, and we needed to make an adjustment to get better. I was falling off hard and was hoping we'd get back on track, just couldn't get there. It fell off at the end even more. Running top-five all day and finishing 10th doesn't feel that great. Overall, the momentum is there, we fought hard and got some Stage points. So, it was still a decent day." 

What's Next: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube on Sunday, March 5.

Joey Logano and the No. 22 team will look to defend their Fall 2022 win at Las Vegas with another standout performance at the 1.5-mile oval.