NASCAR Cup Series Race Report Richmond II

July 31, 2023

RACE: COOK OUT 400          
DATE: JULY 30, 2023

START: 30TH    
FINISH: 26TH    

RACE RUNDOWN: Austin Cindric finished 26th in Sunday afternoon's Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway in the No. 2 Menards/Jack Link's Ford Mustang. Cindric started from the 30th position and remained quiet over the radio through much of the opening stint, holding on to take the Stage 1 green-and-white checkered flag in the 28th position. Following the 70-lap green flag run, the Team Penske driver informed his team that he needed an adjustment to help give him a little turn back and support his entry and exit. Crew Chief Jeremy Bullins called the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment before the restart. Cindric keyed up the radio again on Lap 113 to relay his need for additional help with the car's entry into the corners. The 24-year-old racer pulled the No. 2 Ford down pit lane twice during the second segment for scheduled service stops. Following the conclusion of the second caution-free Stage, Cindric was scored 26th in the running order. In need of grip, the Menards/Jack Link's machine received an air pressure adjustment during its pit stop under the Stage break. Cindric lined up 25th for the start of the final Stage and alerted the crew of his loose handling condition early in the run. Two additional stops were on deck in Stage 3 before the checked flag waved, in which Cindric crossed the line 26th. 
CINDRIC'S THOUGHTS: "It was an up-and-down day. It was honestly good to get a long green-flag race in and get a lot of reps in the Menards/Jack Link's Ford Mustang. We had a bit of a messy second Stage that I feel like cost us a lap on the pit sequences with the way it worked out. I thought the strategy was right, it was just unfortunate the way it panned out with cars coming in and out and the miscue on another pit stop. Past that, I thought we had some highlights, and we learned some things this weekend. It's a tough track to recover track position. We got a few spots and had some good restarts, but definitely want more."

START: 25TH     
STAGE ONE: 23RD     
STAGE TWO: 17TH     
FINISH: 14TH      
RACE RUNDOWN: Ryan Blaney battled a tight-handling BODYARMOR Ford Mustang from the onset of Sunday's Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway, resulting in a 23rd-place finish in Stage 1 that was green for the entirety of the opening 70-lap segment. The No. 12 team made a round of adjustments during its first opportunity to go to work on the handling of the car at the stage break and lined up 25th to start Stage 2. Blaney was brought to pit road during the latter stages of the first of two green flag pit cycles in the second stage which saw him break into the top-10 before hitting pit road. As Blaney's Ford Mustang began to work its way free following its second green flag stop on lap 179, he battled to stay on the lead lap as the laps ticked off in the second stage. Blaney was able to fend off the No. 6 to stay on the lead lap en route to a 17th-place finish in Stage 2. Blaney ran in the top-15 for a majority of the final stage as various pit strategies started to come to light. The No. 12 team opted to wait to bring Blaney to pit road until the end of the final green flag pit cycle, allowing him to take the lead on lap 339. Blaney made his way down pit road on lap 346 while running third and cycled back to 14th upon rejoining the field. Blaney was one of the last cars on the lead lap prior to the caution on lap 390 and fended off a host of wave-around cars on the final restart of the day with three laps remaining to come away with a 14th-place finish.

BLANEY'S THOUGHTS: "Definitely an up-and-down day for our BODYARMOR Ford Mustang. We were going to work on it every chance we had – which wasn't often with the number of long, green-flag runs that this place can tend to produce. I feel like the balance started to come to us towards the end and we were better on the long run. We'll take a top-15 considering how deep we started and look to build some momentum in Michigan."

START: 23RD     
STAGE ONE: 14TH     
STAGE TWO: 10TH     
FINISH: 4TH     
RACE RUNDOWN: Despite starting 23rd in Sunday's Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway, Joey Logano gained track position on the field in the opening laps by forcing three-wide situations to race his way into the top-15 in the latter stages of Stage 1. Logano battled a tight-handling condition throughout the opening stage but came away with a 14th-place finish in the 70-lap segment to begin the afternoon. Following a four-tire stop with a round of adjustments at the stage break, Logano broke into the top-10 on lap 85 just eight laps after the restart before settling into ninth in the running order during the first green flag run of Stage 2. As green flag pit stops began to cycle, Logano brought the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang to pit road while running fourth and cycled back to ninth once the cycle was complete. After another green flag pit cycle shuffled Logano out of the top-10, Logano battled to pick up a stage point by working his way around the No. 3 with seven laps to go in the stage to come away with a 10th-place finish in Stage 2. As the balance started to settle in, Logano settled into eighth on the leaderboard to begin the final stage and held his position for a majority of the run. The No. 22 team's final green flag stop of the day came on lap 334 for four tires, fuel, and a round of adjustments before cycling back to eighth in the running order. The first caution for an on-track incident came with 10 laps remaining, bringing the leaders to pit road for their final service of the afternoon. Logano lined up on the outside of row four and immediately went up the race track to run three-wide heading into turn one, a move that saw him vault from seventh to third with three laps to go. Logano battled to make his way to the front in the closing laps but settled for a fourth-place finish, marking his 13th-career top-five at Richmond and his seventh top-10 in his last nine races at the Virginia short track.

LOGANO'S THOUGHTS: "I thought our Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang was pretty good all day, really. We just needed to get there and execute our race a little bit better. Execute in qualifying, execute on pit road a little bit better to maximize our day. I had a good restart there at the end and was able to roll a couple of rows on the top there. To see third place for a half a second – almost second when the No. 11 lost the corner into [turn] one – but [Hamlin] got back to my outside and got me back. I could see the lead, I got excited, but just another top-five here at Richmond. It's been a really solid race track for us. We've been able to click off a lot of top-fives here recently. We're pretty much machines here. We just have to get it into victory lane a little bit more."

WHAT'S NEXT: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, August 6 for the FireKeepers Casino 400. Coverage begins at 2:30 pm E.T. on USA, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.