NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Michigan

August 8, 2023


TRACK: MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
RACE: FIREKEEPERS CASINO 400          
DATE: AUGUST 7, 2023
 

AUSTIN CINDRIC No. 2 DISCOUNT TIRE FORD MUSTANG
START: 21ST    
STAGE ONE: 21ST    
STAGE TWO: 9TH    
FINISH: 12TH    
POINTS: 21ST
 
RACE RUNDOWN: A two-day racing extravaganza at Michigan International Speedway concluded with a 12th-place finish for Team Penske driver Austin Cindric Monday afternoon. After the No. 2 team resolved an electrical issue in practice on Saturday, Cindric took to the two-mile track for qualifying, claiming the 21st starting spot. With inclement weather hovering over the Brooklyn, Michigan, track Sunday afternoon, the start of the FireKeepers Casino 400 was slightly delayed. Once the green flag flew, Cindric made his first trip to pit lane under caution on lap 35 for four tires, fuel and an adjustment after reporting a tight-handling Discount Tire Ford Mustang. After finishing 21st when the flags flew signaling the end of Stage 1, Cindric stayed out and restarted 10th for the beginning of Stage 2. As another caution slowed the field on lap 65 with Cindric in the sixth position, he alerted his crew that the car needed to be freed up a bit. Crew Chief Jeremy Bullins called the driver to pit road for right-side tires and fuel. Just a handful of laps after the restart, the rain returned, forcing the red flag to be displayed for over 19 hours. The race resumed just past noon on Monday when pit road opened for service prior to the restart. Cindric stayed out and chose the inside lane, restarting on the front row when the green flag flew for the first time Monday on lap 83. Having received right-side tires during the last pit stop, the sophomore Cup Series driver steered his Ford Mustang to the attention of his pit crew under caution on lap 104 for left-side tires and fuel. Cindric restarted 13th, but gained a few spots to finish Stage 2 in the ninth position. Bullins orchestrated another two-tire stop (right sides), gaining the driver seven positions on pit road. As a collection of cars stayed out, Cindric restarted 11th on lap 127 and maintained great pace through the ensuing run, making his final service stop on lap 166. When the checkered flag flew, the 24-year-old racer was scored in the 12th position. 
 
CINDRIC'S THOUGHTS: "Really solid day in the Discount Tire Ford Mustang. Had some great speed and great drivability. I don’t know if we were fast enough to win the thing today, but I had a car that I could put anywhere on restarts, get track position and be aggressive. I thought we were taking right-side tires on the final stop and I tried to leave the pit stall and lost us a ton of time under green. I’m upset about that; it should have been an easy top-10 finish for us. Overall, most of the race was done really well. We still have three more chances to win [to get in the playoffs]."
 

RYAN BLANEY No. 12 MENARDS/KNAUF FORD MUSTANG
START: 9TH     
STAGE ONE: 16TH     
STAGE TWO: 13TH     
FINISH: 9TH      
POINTS: 10TH 

RACE RUNDOWN: Ryan Blaney started Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 from the inside of row five and kept the Menards/Knauf Ford Mustang steadily in the top 10 for the opening run of the afternoon. On lap 14, Blaney avoided trouble when the No. 8 spun underneath him in turn one to bring out the first caution of the day. The No. 12 team kept Blaney on the track under caution, allowing him to restart sixth before breaking into the top five on the ensuing restart. Following the second caution of the day on lap 34, Blaney made his first trip to pit road for a four-tire stop and a round of adjustments. Blaney started from 16th on the ensuing restart with six laps left in Stage 1 and was scored 16th at the end of the first, 45-lap segment. After staying out during the stage break, Blaney lined up fifth to begin Stage 2 and reported a tight-handling condition during the opening run of the second stage. While running fifth, the No. 7 washed up the track and into the left side of Blaney in turn four, causing him to fall to 17th in the running order. Rain began to fall around the track moments later bringing out the red flag on lap 74 as the race was suspended until Monday afternoon. After several cars hit pit road prior to going back green on Monday, Blaney lined up 11th and initially struggled with the handling of his Ford Mustang prior to the caution coming out on lap 102. Blaney was serviced with four tires and adjustments to tighten him up under yellow with just under 20 laps left in the stage and raced his way to a 13th-place finish in Stage 2. The No. 12 team’s pit strategy allowed Blaney to stay on track during the stage break as the leaders hit pit road, lining him up to start third to begin the final stage. Blaney ran as high as second in the running order before green flag pit stops began to cycle and he took the lead on lap 160 before making the trip to pit road for four tires, fuel, and adjustments to get the balance settled in for the final run of the afternoon. He raced his way back into the top 10 with 20 laps remaining and secured a ninth-place finish as the race stayed green the rest of the way. The result marked Blaney’s 11th top-10 finish of the season and seventh in his last nine trips to Michigan.

BLANEY'S THOUGHTS: "Just kind of a decent, okay day. Just different pit strategies and stuff like that. I thought the call we made to come in before the second stage and put tires on with like 15 to go flipped the stage. It had us restart in the top five and got us our track position back that we lost earlier. We were able to kind of halfway hang on. I didn’t think my speed was great but just a hard-working day for sure. It is nice that a Ford won. That is nine in a row here for Ford which is great. I wish it was us but I am happy for the overall goal. We gotta keep going to work."


JOEY LOGANO No. 22 SHELL-PENNZOIL FORD MUSTANG
START: 6TH     
STAGE ONE: 22ND     
STAGE TWO: 7TH     
FINISH: 14TH     
POINTS: 12TH 

RACE RUNDOWN: Joey Logano started from the outside of row three Sunday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway and battled a tight-handling Ford Mustang on the initial run, positioning him ninth at the time of the first caution on lap 14. Logano and the No. 22 team altered their strategy from the leaders and opted to pit under yellow for four tires, fuel, and a round of adjustments to neutralize the balance as Logano took the ensuing green flag from 27th. Logano fought his way through traffic on the following run to come away with a 22nd-place finish in Stage 1. The No. 22 team’s strategy allowed Logano to stay on the race track during the stage break and restarted 12th for the second segment of the afternoon. Following an incident with the leaders on lap 64, Logano was brought to pit road for right-side tires and fuel before making an additional stop to top off on fuel before the race went back green. Shortly after the ensuing restart rain began to fall around the track to bring the race to a halt on lap 74, forcing a Monday afternoon resumption to finish the FireKeepers Casino 400. Once the red flag was lifted just before 1 p.m. ET Monday, several of the leaders opted to pit before going back green which allowed Logano to restart from 14th. The caution flag flew on lap 102 with the laps winding down in Stage 2 and Logano stayed out in search of stage points as he lined up sixth with 13 laps remaining in the stage. Logano battled with the leaders during the sprint to the green-and-white checkered flag to come away with a seventh-place result in Stage 2. Following a four-tire stop and a round of adjustments during the stage break, Logano restarted 19th and reported a vibration in the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang in the opening laps of the run. As green flag pit stops began to cycle up front, Logano made his way into the top-10 on lap 158 and ran as high as sixth during the final stage. Logano made his final trip to pit road on lap 173 for a scheduled, green flag pit stop as the No. 22 team stretched the fuel window as far as they could. The race remained green the rest of the way while Logano worked his way back into the top-15 to come away with a 14th-place finish.

LOGANO'S THOUGHTS: "We had a decent day with our Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang. I feel like we were better today than Sunday, but obviously track position was key no matter what and I thought our strategy calls put us in a good position throughout the day. We worked hard on it the last few days and glad we were able to get a Ford in victory lane here. Wish it was us, obviously, but we’ll keep working on it as the regular season winds down."


WHAT'S NEXT: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course on Sunday, August 13 for the Verizon 200. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. E.T. on NBC, IMS Radio Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.