NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Talladega Superspeedway

April 23, 2023

Track: Talladega Superspeedway
Race: GEICO 500
Date: April 23, 2023

Austin Cindric | No. 2 Menards/Duracell Ford Mustang

Start: 15th
Stage 1: 6th
Stage 2: 16th
Finish: 26th

Race Rundown: Austin Cindric's chances of a Talladega triumph were swept away on the final lap of Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, relegating the driver to a 26th-place finish. Cindric qualified 15th but dropped to the rear at the start of the race due to an unapproved adjustment. The driver of the No. 2 Menards/Duracell Ford Mustang navigated the draft and the two cautions in Stage 1 to finish sixth, securing valuable stage points. Utilizing the inside lane, Cindric restarted sixth for the beginning of the second 60-lap segment. Cindric maintained solid track position as the energy of the draft elevated, but slipped back to 16th as the flags flew to signal the end of Stage 2. After receiving service on pit road, the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion returned to the 2.66-mile track for the final Stage. Cindric reached the top five in the final laps but a last-lap incident took him out of contention. 

Cindric's Thoughts: "We were able to recover after losing some track position early and we saved some fuel in our Menards/Duracell Ford Mustang to allow us to run hard at the end. We had some good restarts and other cars were running out of fuel. We made some good moves at the end and thought we had a shot at it when we took the white flag, but the leaders started wrecking and we ended up collected in that."

Cindric is currently 18th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver points standings.

Ryan Blaney | No. 12 Wurth Ford Mustang

Start: 5th
Stage 1: 22nd
Stage 2: 19th
Finish: 2nd

Race Rundown: Ryan Blaney started fifth and finished second in Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. The driver of the Wurth Ford Mustang led nine times for a race-high 47 laps on the day. Stage 1 saw Blaney ride inside the top-five the majority of the stage. After attempting to make a third lane near the end of the stage, Blaney would fall outside the top-20, coming home 22nd in Stage 1. Stage 2 would see much of the same as track position continued to play a massive factor, he brought the Wurth Ford home 19th in Stage 2. Great pit service by the No. 12 crew got Blaney out in the 10th position as the final stage began. He would find his way to the lead on lap 131. Using the help from Aric Almirola, he continued to lead when the caution came out on lap 185 setting up a green-white-checkered finish. As the No. 12 team continued to monitor the fuel mileage before the first overtime attempt, Blaney was scored the leader when the caution flag flew following an incident in turn two. On the second and final overtime attempt, Blaney took the white flag in second but was involved in the race-ending incident in turns one and two and settled for a second-place effort on the afternoon.

Blaney's Thoughts: "The Fords were quick. We did a good job working together, but it's unfortunate we got a little separated there with the No. 4 having to pit and the No. 10 having a right-front flat. I think we worked great together… just I think someone ran out of gas at the restart zone and kind of hurt our lane. By the time we got back up there, we tried to make every run we could. It's a fast car, just a shame not to win. This is a completely separate race than anywhere else, so you take it for what it's worth, get ready to go for the next speedway. Hopefully, the momentum carries over."

Blaney is currently 8th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver points standings.

Joey Logano | No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil/Autotrader Ford Mustang

Start: 8th
Stage 1: 9th
Stage 2: 35th
Finish: 30th

Race Rundown: Joey Logano and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil/Autotrader Ford Mustang fought through Sunday's 188-lap event to regain their position following a Stage 2 pit road penalty, although a late-race melee in a NASCAR overtime finish relegated the No. 22 team to a 30th-place finish to end their day in Alabama. Logano lined up seventh for the race start on the inside row of the lead pack, but a quick move to the outside lane saw the No. 22 launch to the front of the field. He stayed consistent within the top-10 for the first 60-lap Stage of the race while battling a free condition, and swift work by his team on pit road gave him the advantage on track to secure an eighth-place finish and valuable stage points when the first green-white-checkered flag flew. Logano selected the top line to start the race's second segment and again held on to his position in the top-10 for the races opening laps. A scheduled green-flag stop brought him down pit road on lap 105 with a chance to return to the field ahead of the pack, although the No. 22 driver was clocked speeding on exit and was forced to serve a pass-through penalty that placed him a lap down by the time he returned to the field. Logano and his team strategized a plan to regain their position, and a swift move to rejoin his teammates mid-field gave them the advantage to reap the benefits of the free pass to start the final 68-lap Stage on the lead lap. The No. 22 worked both lanes and was set up to advance in the race's final laps, but Joey was collected in multi-car incident with only a few laps remaining triggering the overtime finish and multiple trips to pit lane to repair a heavily damaged No. 22. Logano was scored 30th when the checkered flag flew.

Logano's Thoughts: "We had such good speed in our Shell-Pennzoil/Autotrader Ford Mustang but not a lot to show for it in the end here. These superspeedway races are so unpredictable when it becomes time to go in the later stages and we had the outside line well-connected, but ultimately we were in the wrong place at the wrong time and it derailed our day. I'm proud of the fight from this No. 22 team to overcome a couple setbacks today to get us back in contention."

Logano is currently 11th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver points standings.

What's Next: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Dover Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 30. Coverage of the event will be carried on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at 2:00 p.m. ET.