Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Atlanta II

July 10, 2023

RACE: QUAKER STATE 400          
DATE: JULY 9, 2023

START: 10TH    
FINISH: 12TH    
Austin Cindric finished 12th in Sunday evening’s weather-shortened Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Cindric started 10th as one of eight Fords to claim top-10 starting positions following Saturday’s time trials. The Team Penske driver maintained his pace with the frontrunners in the early goings, ultimately crossing the stripe seventh as Stage 1 wrapped. Over the team radio, the driver of the Menards/Quaker State Ford Mustang reported that the car was a little tight on exit and headed to pit road for service. Restarting sixth, Cindric teetered around the top five as the draft shuffled the running order. He made a fuel-only stop under caution on lap 80 and expressed his satisfaction with the handling of the car. After two additional caution periods, Cindric charged to the point of the field, taking the lead for the first time on lap 131. With inclement weather looming, the intensity of the competition elevated and Cindric slipped to fourth when a caution slowed the field on lap 155. He ended Stage 2 in the fourth position and returned to the Menards/Quaker State pit crew for a four-tire stop. The 24-year-old racer restarted deeper in the field, 18th, but navigated his way back up to 12th before the race was halted due to weather and ultimately deemed official, leaving the driver with a 12th-place finish.  

CINDRIC'S THOUGHTS: "Yeah, certainly great to lead some laps in the Menards/Quaker State Ford Mustang. I thought we had a really fast car today. Unfortunately, some strategy and weather definitely got mixed up at the end and we were making our way back through the field and the race was just cut short. I’m proud of the team. The pit stops were great all night and the crew made some good adjustments. That’s two weeks in a row now with really solid execution on all fronts – that’s what we need as a team and we’ll keep going."

START: 2ND     
FINISH: 9TH      

RACE RUNDOWN: Ryan Blaney had his No. 12 Wurth Ford Mustang at the front of the field throughout Sunday night’s Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in search of his second-career win at the 1.5-mile track. After starting on the inside of the front row, Blaney and teammate Joey Logano worked together to keep their Ford Mustangs in the top-five for a majority of the opening stage before pushing the No. 22 to the lead on lap 47. Ten laps later, Blaney got a big run down the backstretch to take the lead in turn four as the front of the field battled for the Stage 1 win. On the final lap of the opening stage, Blaney battled side-by-side with Logano before holding off the No. 5 at the line for his third stage win of the season. After his first trip to pit road during the stage break, Blaney restarted on the inside of row one and was pushed to the lead with the help of Logano as Team Penske controlled the top three spots in the running order during the first green flag run of Stage 2. Following a caution on lap 80, Blaney led the field down pit road for fuel only and restarted sixth as a handful of cars opted to stay out during the yellow. Blaney continued to work the high line to make his way back into the top-five shortly after the restart before settling into second with 30 laps remaining in the second segment. He traded the lead back-and-forth with the No. 6 as the laps clicked off in the stage but was scored second by the time the caution flag flew on lap 155 as Stage 2 ended under yellow. The No. 12 team brought Blaney to pit road for four tires and fuel ahead of the start of the final stage, shuffling him back to 20th as teams varied their pit strategies with inclement weather looming. Blaney quickly raced his way back into the top-10 on fresher tires, but a caution on lap 177 halted his momentum - before rainfall halted the race – resulting in an eight-place finish. Blaney led three times for 20 laps while securing is tenth top-10 of the season.

BLANEY'S THOUGHTS: "We had such a fast Wurth Ford Mustang tonight. We've really hit on something in both trips to Atlanta this year. Some guys played the game of it may be raining before the end of Stage 2, then it looked like we might run the whole race. The split strategies with the rain threw everything off and I wish we could've seen this one through. Our Ford Mustang was so good, but fortunate to come away with a top-10."

START: 4TH     
STAGE TWO: 16TH     
FINISH: 17TH     

RACE RUNDOWN: Joey Logano quickly made his way up to second in the running order after starting Sunday night’s Quaker State 400 from the outside of row two and settled in behind the leader for the opening run. Logano reported a loose handling condition on both corner entry and exit when the first caution flag flew on lap 16. He and teammate Ryan Blaney ran nose-to-tail from the second and third positions, respectively, on the ensuing restart before Logano made the move around the No. 10 for the lead on lap 39 - the first of 11 laps led on the night. Logano and Blaney battled side-by-side on the final lap of the opening stage, but Logano was shuffled out of line on the entrance to turn three, resulting in a fourth-place finish in Stage 1. Following a four-tire stop and a round of adjustments during the stage break, Logano lined up on the inside of row two behind Blaney and pushed him to the lead and Penske teammates commanded the top three spots in the running order. The No. 22 team brought Logano to pit road for fuel only following the caution on lap 80 and worked the outside line to make his way back up to second while leading the way for the Team Penske trio. As inclement weather began to approach, Logano continued to run second with 30 laps remaining in Stage 2, but was shuffled out of the top-10 as the handling began to go away, resulting in a 16th-place finish in the second segment. After a four tire stop with another round of adjustments prior to the start of the final stage, Logano lined up 25th for the restart behind cars on differing pit strategies. Logano fought his way back into the top-20, but the rain halted his charge through the field as the race was called on lap 185 while running 16th. 

LOGANO'S THOUGHTS: "Team Penske brought three really fast Ford Mustangs this weekend. We fought the handling throughout the night - just way too loose with air on the nose and it was a handful at times. We had the speed and I think it's a different story if we were able to see how the whole race played out but we just ran out of time."

WHAT'S NEXT: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 16 for the Crayon 301. Coverage begins at 2:30 pm E.T. on USA, PRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.