NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Sonoma Raceway

June 12, 2023

RACE: SAVE MART 350          
DATE: JUNE 11, 2023

START: 34TH    
FINISH: 25TH    
POINTS: 21ST (-233)

RACE RUNDOWN: Austin Cindric finished 25th in Sunday afternoon's NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway, the second road course event of the season. The No. 2 America's Tire/Discount Tire Ford Mustang started 34th for the 110-lap affair and made its first trip to pit road on lap 22 for four tires, fuel, and an adjustment to help the drivability of the car. While the typical stage breaks are not at play in road course events, the race remains split into three segments, and Cindric finished Stage 1 in the 36th position. On lap 29, he relayed that the balance had improved following the adjustment before later returning to pit lane on lap 43 for another pit stop. Cindric took the wave around during a caution a few laps prior to the completion of Stage 2, where he came home 32nd. Following a caution deep in the final segment, the America's Tire/Discount Tire Ford Mustang was able to gain a handful of positions to take the checkered flag in 25th. 

CINDRIC'S THOUGHTS: "We worked to make our America's Tire/Discount Tire Ford Mustang better throughout the day with tire pressure adjustments to make the car hold on a little longer. It was obviously not the day we were wanting, but the last caution really gave us an opportunity to get some spots on the restart and some decent track position with newer tires. Great effort by everyone, but definitely leaving wanting more."

START: 31ST     
STAGE ONE: 34TH     
STAGE TWO: 28TH     
FINISH: 31ST      
POINTS: 3RD (-24)

RACE RUNDOWN: Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 Menards/Moen team took the green flag Sunday from the back half of the field, forcing some early strategy calls to gain track position in the opening stage. After reporting a tight-handling condition on the opening run, Blaney was one of the first to hit pit road on lap 17 for four tires, fuel, and a round of adjustments, but was penalized for speeding on the exit of pit road which resulted in a pass-through penalty. After rejoining the lead lap once the green flag pit cycle was complete, the No. 12 team stretched its fuel window as far as possible and saw the caution flag fly on lap 49 right as they were planning another scheduled green-flag stop in the coming laps. Blaney reported the Menards/Moen Ford Mustang's handling was better overall during the second run of the afternoon, allowing him to drive up into the top-10 during the ensuing green flag pit stop cycle that began around lap 70. After making a scheduled trip to pit road on lap 85 from 15th-place, the caution flag flew on lap 91, allowing Blaney to stay out and cycle up to third for what ended up being the final restart of the afternoon. Blaney held his ground in the top-10 of the running order on older tires as the laps wound down but was spun twice in the final seven laps – taking him off-course both times – which relegated him to a 31st-place finish.

BLANEY'S THOUGHTS: "We had our work cut out for us starting in the back, for sure, forcing us to play more into the strategy side of things. Mistakes cost us early, but our No. 12 group rallied to have us in the right place at the right time at the end there. It looked like we'd be able to steal a top-10 to salvage the day, but the chaos of the closing laps had other plans for us."

START: 17TH     
STAGE ONE: 16TH     
FINISH: 3RD     
POINTS: 9TH (-81)
RACE RUNDOWN: Joey Logano quickly drove his way into the top-15 in the opening laps of Sunday's Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway before settling into 13th as the first green-flag pit cycle of the first stage began. Logano brough the No. 22 Autotrader Ford Mustang to pit road under green on lap 21 for four tires, fuel, and an air pressure adjustment to combat a loose-handling condition early before rejoining the field in 16th-place and held the position through the end of Stage One. Logano continued to make his way toward the top-10 in the opening laps of Stage Two as the balance started to settle in before making his way to pit road under green on lap 44 for his second scheduled stop of the day. The caution flag flew five laps later while Logano was running 17th, allowing him to stay out under yellow and restart from the outside of row one. Logano battled with the No. 24 with three laps left in the second stage and was able to hold him off despite a bit of contact to the left rear, resulting in a second-place finish in Stage Two. Due to the contact, Logano reporting a tight-handling condition and issues with rear drive during the final stage but managed to maintain his top-five spot in the running order. After the final round of green-flag stops, Logano drove from 17th to third with 30 laps to go, but continued to struggle with rear drive as he fell to fifth before the final caution of the afternoon came out on lap 91. Following a four-tire stop with a round of adjustments, Logano lined up seventh for the restart with 15 to go – and fourth in line on new tires – allowing him to drive back into the top-five on the first lap back green. Logano continued to push forward in the closing laps, resulting in a third-place finish – tying for his best-career finish at Sonoma (2016) and marking his second top-five in his last three races at the California road course.

LOGANO'S THOUGHTS: "You start in the back you're going to get beat up a little bit. Overall, I'm very proud of the Autotrader team today. Yesterday was ugly for all the Penske cars, but Paul [Wolfe] made some good adjustments and got it to where we were top-five speed, legit, and we just had to get there. He made a great call with a four-stop strategy and getting a lucky caution and getting through everything, so luck was on our side a little bit, but also a decent car. It was nothing to go up there and win with, but we maximized the last two weeks and I'm proud of that, so we'll go into the off week with a bit of momentum."

WHAT'S NEXT: The NASCAR Cup Series will take next weekend off, but racing returns on Sunday, June 25 from Nashville Superspeedway. Coverage begins at 7:00 pm E.T. on NBC, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.