NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - New Hampshire

July 18, 2023

RACE: CRAYON 301          
DATE: JULY 17, 2023

START: 22ND    
FINISH: 25TH    

RACE RUNDOWN: Austin Cindric started 22nd and finished 25th in Monday’s Crayon 301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The driver of the Autotrader Ford Mustang battled a loose on entry car prior to the first caution on lap 29. Crew Chief Jeremy Bullins worked on air pressure adjustments along with four tires, but Cindric would be blocked in by the No. 54 car leaving the pits, which resulted in lost time. He restarted outside the top-25 and would finish Stage 1 in the 28th position. Stage 2 would see the Autotrader Ford battle hard to stay on the lead lap. A timely caution late Stage 2 would allow Cindric, who had just been lapped by race leader Martin Truex Jr., to take the wave around back on the lead lap. A quick sprint the end of the stage would see Cindric finish Stage 2 in the 19th position. With the balance headed the right direction, Cindric would tackle the final 100-plus laps with a strategy of running long to gain track position. He would make his final stop around lap 270 and unfortunately a couple laps later a caution would fly which would trap him two laps down. The No. 2 team would take the wave around and eventually worked their way back on the lead lap and came home in the 25th-place finish. 
CINDRIC'S THOUGHTS: "Certainly the result wasn't indicative of the effort put in today by my Autotrader Ford Mustang team. We made improvements on the car and took a gamble running long and missed the caution we needed by a couple laps. We'll move on and get ready for Pocono next week." 

START: 5TH     
FINISH: 22ND      

RACE RUNDOWN: Ryan Blaney showed top-five speed throughout Monday’s Crayon 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, resulting in a pair of top-five stage finishes as the regular season winds down in the summer months. Blaney battled some handling issues in the opening stage, but the No. 12 team went to work on the Menards/Sylvania Ford Mustang during its lone pit stop of Stage 1 to come away with a fifth-place finish in the 70-lap segment. After restarting fourth to begin Stage 2, Blaney was called to pit road on lap 131 during the green flag pit cycle for four tires and a round of adjustments to combat a tight-handling condition in the center of the corners and cycled to fifth in the running order. The caution flag flew on lap 163 in the latter stages of Stage 2, allowing the No. 12 team to take another swing with adjustments as Blaney began to search around for faster lanes on the track. After restarting seventh with 18 laps remaining in the stage, Blaney navigated his way back into the top-five to come away with a fourth-place finish in Stage 2. Blaney stayed out during the stage break, allowing him to restart on the inside of row one to begin the final 116-lap segment as he worked the high line to chase down race leader Martin Truex, Jr. He found success in the higher groove as rubber began to lay down and chipped away at the deficit before green flag pit stops began to cycle on lap 235. With the laps winding down, the caution flag flew on lap 271 and the No. 12 team made the call for right side tires and fuel, but Blaney was penalized for running over equipment in the pit box, sending him to the tail end of the field for the following restart. Blaney batted to make up lost ground in the final 20 laps, but ultimately came away with a 22nd-place finish.

BLANEY'S THOUGHTS: “Obviously, a frustrating end to what looked to be really solid day for us. I felt like we were on of the few cars that really had a shot at running down [Truex Jr.]. Fortunately, we picked up some stage points early on but definitely not the way I saw our day ending up."

START: 4TH     
FINISH: 2ND     

RACE RUNDOWN: Joey Logano came up one spot short of his third-career victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Monday afternoon, instead settling for his third top-five finish in the last four races at his home track. After reporting a loose-handling condition on the opening run of the afternoon, Logano brought the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang to pit road under caution on lap 28 for four tires, fuel, and a round of adjustments in preparation for a long, green-flag run to the end of the stage. Despite his struggles with corner exit, Logano was able to come away with a ninth-place finish in Stage 1. After restarting from seventh, Logano drove his way back into the top-five before the start of the green flag pit cycle before making the trip to pit road on lap 130 for four fresh tires and another round of adjustments as he reported a tight-handling Ford Mustang in the center of the corners. Following the caution on lap 163, the No. 22 team called for right side tires only during its trip to pit road, vaulting Logano to third in the running order for the following restart with 18 laps remaining in Stage 2. Logano battled with the leaders to the end of the run before settling for a third-place finish in the stage. The No. 22 team opted not to pit during the stage break to retain its track position heading into the final segment as Logano fought to chase down the Nos. 19 and 12 ahead. A late-race caution on lap 271 called for another two-tire stop as Logano restarted fifth with 24 laps remaining as Logano worked his way up to second in the running order before the seventh caution flag of the afternoon flew on lap 280. Logano chose the inside of row one alongside the No. 19 but was unable to take over the top spot on the restart. However, another caution on lap 288 saw Logano choose the outside of row two to restart behind the leader on what amounted to be the final restart of the afternoon with nine laps to go. Logano fought to get to the bumper of the No. 19 in the closing laps but came away with a second-place finish, marking his sixth top-five finish of the season.

LOGANO'S THOUGHTS: "I thought I would have had something for the 19 at the end. Right before that caution came out two cautions to the end when we had tires on it seemed like the 19 took a few laps to get going. I was running him down, I was like man, I've got a chance here. That caution came out right when I was thinking I could make a move on the outside into 3. And then it seemed like the cycles helped him get his pressures up to where he can refire and be pretty quick the last couple restarts.

Dangit, the home track, there's no place you want to win more than this, so it stings to not get the Shell Pennzoil Ford into victory lane. But gosh, second just sucks sometimes, you know. It stings the most when you're that close and feeling like you had a shot at it. Still a good day for us."

WHAT'S NEXT: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway on Sunday, July 23 for the 400. Coverage begins at 2:30 pm E.T. on USA, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.