NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Martinsville Speedway

April 16, 2023

Track: Martinsville Speedway
Race: NOCO 400
Date: April 16, 2023

Austin Cindric | No. 2 Menards/Libman Ford Mustang

Start: 25th
Stage 1: 33rd
Stage 2: 33rd
Finish: 33rd

Race Rundown: Austin Cindric finished 33rd in Sunday afternoon’s NOCO 400 at Martinsville Speedway after a tough 210-mile marathon. Cindric started 25th but got shuffled back in the early goings of Stage 1. The No. 2 team worked vigorously to fine-tune the handling to help the Menards/Libman Ford Mustang regain ground, but ultimately struggled to recover from the early setback at the .526-mile Virginia short track.

Cindric's Thoughts:  “Yeah, tough start for us getting shuffled out really early. It put us really behind. There were a few stints in the race where we were able to get our Menards/Libman Ford Mustang driving really well. I feel like we were just too sensitive to some changes. Learned a lot, but it was a really challenging day for us at a really challenging track.”

Cindric is currently 19th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver points standings.

Ryan Blaney | No. 12 Advanced Auto Parts Ford Mustang

Start: 31st
Stage 1: 13th
Stage 2: 17th
Finish: 7th

Race Rundown: Despite starting deep in the field for Sunday's NOCO 400 at Martinsville Speedway, Ryan Blaney worked his way into the top-20 just 28 laps in as he picked his way through traffic on the bottom lane to secure a 13th-place finish in Stage 1. Following a four-tire stop at the stage break, Blaney began to fight a loose-handling condition during Stage Two but kept his Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang securely in the top-15 as the long, green-flag run wore on. The No. 12 team opted to split the final stage in half with its pit strategy and brought Blaney to pit road on lap 287 for a scheduled stop for four tires, fuel, and a round of adjustments while running 11th, but an untimely caution during the pit cycle trapped him a lap down. After receiving the free pass under caution to rejoin the lead lap, Blaney continued to run just outside the top-10 before the final caution of the afternoon led to two-tire call atop of the pit box from crew chief Jonathan Hassler, allowing Blaney to restart eighth. Blaney made the most of the track position, coming away with a seventh-place finish.

Blaney's Thoughts: “Given where we lined up today and how the last couple of weeks have ended up for our No. 12 team, this was the kind of day we needed to get those results behind us. We were strong early on and made up ground quickly; it's tough to do that at a place like Martinsville. We'll take what we can from today and continue to move forward."

Blaney is currently 10th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver points standings.

Joey Logano | No. 22 Verizon 5G Ford Mustang

Start: 15th
Stage 1: 32nd
Stage 2: 26th
Finish: 2nd

Race Rundown: Joey Logano and the No. 22 team had to start Sunday's NOCO 400 at Martinsville Speedway from the rear of the field following an unapproved adjustment prior to green flag, subjecting the Verizon 5G team to a 32nd-place finish in Stage 1 and the recipient of the free pass after going a lap down on lap 57. Following a four-tire stop and a round of adjustments at the end of Stage 1, Logano reported issues with tight-handling condition in the center of the corner and corner exit, resulting in a 26th-place finish in Stage 2. Logano battled an issue with a lack of rear grip during a long, green-flag run to begin the final stage, prompting crew chief Pail Wolfe to make a strategy call to leave Logano on the track while green-flag pit stops cycled and allowed him to run as high as fourth. The strategy ultimately paid off as the caution flag flew on lap 302, setting up Logano to restart seventh on fresh tires. As the car settled in in clean air, Logano was running sixth at the time of the race's final caution on lap 342. Wolfe opted to leave Logano on the track to take the green flag from the lead on would be the final restart of the afternoon and, despite leading 25 laps, Logano was passed by the No. 5 with 29 laps to go, resulting in a second-place finish.

Logano's Thoughts: “I knew the only way he was gonna get by me is he was gonna have to get physical. I had to make the car wide. I had very little chance to win it when he had the two tires. He just got through traffic too quick for us, but, overall, it still was the right call to get us on the front row. You never know, you have a caution at the end and some things can happen, but, overall, I’m very proud of the Verizon Mustang team. We were not good. We went down a lap two times throughout the race and got one lucky dog and one lucky caution and then just some good strategy from Paul and getting the car better. We were awful to start and he did a good job of getting me competitive at least and putting me in position to do something there at the end. There are days when you’re mad about second, most of the time you are, but days like today you’re pretty happy to see the front at the end.”

Logano is currently seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series driver points standings.

What's Next: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, April 23. Coverage of the event will be carried on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at 3:00 p.m. ET.