NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Pocono

July 24, 2023

RACE: HIGHPOINT.COM 400          
DATE: JULY 23, 2023

START: 9TH    
FINISH: 24TH    
RACE RUNDOWN: Austin Cindric finished 24th in what was a drama-filled HighPoint 400 at Pocono Raceway Sunday afternoon. With great pace in qualifying, Cindric took the green flag from the ninth position. Under the first caution on Lap 6, Cindric reported that the No. 2 Menards/Libman Ford needed to be tightened up a bit. The Team Penske driver made his first trip of the day to pit road on Lap 26 for a four-tire service stop with wedge and air pressure adjustments. Cindric finished Stage 1 30th after the pit stop, but restarted seventh for the start of Stage 2 as the majority of the field pitted at the Stage break. After a series of cautions kicked off the second segment, Cindric relayed that the car had tightened up, ultimately slipping to 23rd by the conclusion of Stage 2. Crew Chief Jeremy Bullins outlined a pit stop on Lap 106 that would help to slightly free up the No. 2 Ford for the remainder of the race. Cindric continued to battle a tight-handing car throughout Stage 3 and pitted for additional air pressure adjustments under caution with less than 20 laps to go. During the trek to pit road, Cindric collected a speeding penalty and was forced to restart at the tail of the field with 13 laps remaining. The Menards/Libman Ford was in the 24th position when the checkered flag waved.  
CINDRIC'S THOUGHTS: “A little frustrating. I felt like for the first half of the race we definitely had a top-10 car with our Menards/Libman Ford Mustang. Made a few mistakes on restarts and in the choose, and it cost us some track position. We got really, really tight in the second half of the race and I don't really know why – and we also had a speeding penalty at the end. Nonetheless, I'm proud of the effort from the team and the good speed we showed throughout the first half of the weekend."

START: 14TH     
STAGE ONE: 27TH     
FINISH: 30TH      
RACE RUNDOWN: After starting 14th in Sunday's 400 at Pocono Raceway, Ryan Blaney made his way into the top-10 of the running order within the first five laps as he began his charge to the front of the field. Blaney reported a tight-handling condition throughout the opening stage as the No. 12 team brought him to pit road under green with four laps remaining in Stage 1 for four tires, fuel, and a round of adjustments. The strategy call resulted in a 27th-place finish in the stage, but positioned Blaney to restart from fifth to begin Stage 2. Shortly after the restart on lap 46, the No. 5 went for a spin in the middle of turn one right in front of the Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang, but Blaney was able to get the power down and avoid contact before the caution flag flew for the fourth time on the day. On the ensuing restart, Blaney worked his way to up to second in the running order and remained there for a majority of the stage before being called to pit road for a scheduled green flag stop on lap 78 for four tires, fuel, and a wedge adjustment. Blaney raced his way back into the top-10 with five laps remaining in Stage 2 and was running eighth when the caution flag flew on lap 92 as the stage ended under yellow. The green flag stop allowed Blaney to stay on the track during the stage break, setting him up to restart on the inside of row one to begin the final segment. Blaney benefited from a solid push into turn one and carried the momentum into the Long Pond straightaway to take the lead on lap 100 but, two laps later, Blaney experienced an engine issue while leading as he was nearing the end of the frontstretch that relegated him out of the top-20. The No. 12 team brought Blaney to pit road under caution on lap 106 to diagnose the issue but was subjected to run the remainder of the race down on engine power, resulting in a 30th-place finish.

BLANEY'S THOUGHTS: “We worked on our balance all day. We got the lead, and a couple of laps after we got the lead, I think we lost a cylinder or something. I'll have to look at it. The timing of it all really stinks. We finally got our Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang in a good spot, took the lead, then had an engine issue. We'll have to see what the issue was, but I'm proud of the effort and proud of the fast car we brought. Just one of those days."

START: 6TH     
STAGE TWO: 35TH     
FINISH: 35TH    
RACE RUNDOWN: Joey Logano forged his way to the front in the opening laps of Sunday's 400 at Pocono Raceway, gaining three positions on the first lap as he chased down the leaders from third in the running order prior to the afternoon's first caution on lap six. The handling of the No. 22 Verizon Frontline Ford Mustang started to free up over the course of the first run of the day, allowing Logano to take the lead from the inside of row one on the following restart. Logano went on to lead the remaining 21 laps in Stage 1 while holding off a hard-charging No. 5 behind him, resulting in his third stage win of the season. Several of the leaders opted to come to pit road during the final laps of the opening stage, shuffling Logano to 17th in the running order following a four tire stop and a round of adjustments at the stage break. On the ensuing restart, Logano was collected in a multi-car incident in turn one and made contact with the outside wall, resulting in all four tires going flat which required a tow all the way back to his pit stall. The No. 22 team worked to repair significant damage to the left front toe link and used up all of its allotted time under the damaged vehicle policy as Logano rejoined the field six laps down in the 36th position. Due to the damage sustained in the wreck, Logano was unable to meet minimum speed and took his Ford Mustang to the garage on lap 55 to bring an abrupt end to the day in Pocono.

LOGANO'S THOUGHTS: "I had a run down the center, which is great and that was going to put me in a really good spot into turn one, and my car fired off really well in turn one.  We saw that in the restart before that, so I felt real confident about putting myself in a tough position because I knew my car could handle well, and it just started squeezing up and when I came back up to avoid the cars on the inside the outside of me I had to check up just a little bit and it just got the No. 34 into my right-rear.  It turns so quick that there's no chance of saving it, just turn it around and then you kind of slide and hope not to get hit, which, luckily no one hit me, but the wall did enough damage."

WHAT'S NEXT: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Richmond Raceway on Sunday, July 30 for the Cook Out 400. Coverage begins at 3:00 pm E.T. on USA, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.