NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Watkins Glen

August 21, 2023

DATE: AUGUST 20, 2023

START: 17TH    
FINISH: 16TH    

RACE RUNDOWN: Austin Cindric recorded a 16th-place finish at Watkins Glen International Sunday afternoon in the penultimate race of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series regular season after taking the green flag from the 17th position. Cindric inched up the scoring pylon early on, settling into the 14th position in the No. 2 Autotrader Ford Mustang. The vibrant orange livery made its first appearance on pit road on Lap 19 for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments. Cindric battled a loose condition around the 2.45-mile multi-elevational road course and reported to the team that he needed another adjustment to aid the handling. On Lap 54, the 24-year-old racer returned to pit road for a fresh set of tires, fuel and another adjustment. As the No. 2 was departing pit lane, a caution slowed the field and Cindric restarted 15th when the green flag waved with 30 laps remaining in the event. The Team Penske driver remained around that position throughout the final stint, ultimately taking the checkered flag 16th in the fifth road course race of the season.
CINDRIC'S THOUGHTS: "Yeah, unfortunately not a win. We need a win right now. I felt like we learned a lot about the package that we brought this weekend. Obviously not race-winning speed, but we got the Autotrader Ford Mustang significantly better throughout the race. We got the caution at the right time and really maximized the day in the car, outside the car, pit road – all of it. I can't be too upset, just not enough speed to lock us into the playoffs. We'll go get after it next week. We've won there before and we can do it again."

START: 23RD     
STAGE ONE: 28TH     
STAGE TWO: 16TH     
FINISH: 9TH      

RACE RUNDOWN: Despite starting outside of the top-20 to begin Sunday's 220.5-mile race at Watkins Glen, Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 Menards/Richmond team saw an improvement in their Ford Mustang's pace from Saturday afternoon to work through traffic in the early going. After battling his way into the top-20, Blaney was brought to pit road for a scheduled, green-flag stop on lap 15 for four tires and fuel before the end of Stage 1 as differing race strategies throughout the field came to light during the opening run. Blaney was scored 28th at the conclusion of Stage 1 on lap 20, but raced his way up to 17th by the time the green flag pit cycle completed. He continued to find more speed in clean air as the field was strung out all over the 2.45 mile course as Stage 2 stayed green for the entirety of the 20-lap stretch, resulting in a 16th-place finish in the second segment. As the No. 12 team worked to maximize the fuel run to make it the end on a two-stop strategy, Blaney charged up to 13th in the running order before hitting pit road under green on lap 53 for four tires, fuel, and a round of adjustments. Blaney rejoined the field just in front of the leader to remain on the lead lap as green flag stops continued to take place. Shortly after the No. 12 team's stop, the caution flag flew on lap 55 which shuffled the field as teams were on several different strategies, allowing Blaney to restart seventh with 30 laps to go. Blaney eventually settled into tenth in the running order and made the pass for ninth with 15 laps to go before holding his position the rest of the way.

BLANEY'S THOUGHTS:  "Overall, not a bad day. We didn't qualify very well – at all. We kind of had our work cut out for us, but [crew chief] Jonathan [Hassler] did a really good job of getting us better all day – from practice to qualifying, and into today. We passed some guys in the beginning, did a couple good pit calls there under green and then had a good caution fall our way there. We made our stop and it cycled us ahead of some guys, and then we had the speed for ninth. Overall, I'm proud of the effort from practice to the race. That's what it is. Trying to work it through and get better. It was a hard day's work, and I'm proud of the effort."

START: 11TH     
STAGE ONE: 24TH     
STAGE TWO: 13TH     
FINISH: 10TH     

RACE RUNDOWN: Joey Logano started from row six in Sunday's afternoon's NASCAR Cup Series event at Watkins Glen and battled a loose-handling condition from the onset of the 90-lap race. The No. 22 team joined a handful of cars in pitting before the end of Stage 1 as Logano was brought to pit road on lap 17 for four tires and a round of adjustments, resulting in a 24th-place finish in the opening, 20-lap segment. After a majority of the leaders pitted in the laps following the stage end, Logano made his way into the top-10 on lap 23 before eventually settling into 13th in the running order where he would cross the line to end Stage 2 on lap 40 as the entire stage was run under green flag conditions. The No. 22 team maxed out its fuel run in order to make it to the end on just two stops as Logano made his final trip to pit road on lap 54 for four tires, fuel, and adjustments with the handling of his Ford Mustang beginning to deteriorate at the end of the run. As Logano was making his way off pit road, the caution flag flew and shuffled the running order in the process with several cars yet to make their final stops of the afternoon. Once the leaderboard shuffled under yellow, Logano lined up to restart ninth with 30 laps to go and settled into 11th in the running order during the following laps. Logano made his way back into the top-10 with 15 to go and secured his seventh-career top-10 finish at the 2.45 mile road course.

LOGANO'S THOUGHTS: "We executed a better race this time, which is nicer than last week, which is good. It just wasn't really good, in general. I wasn't fast. We did a good job as a team. The bottom line is we have to go faster."

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Daytona International Speedway for the regular season finale on Saturday, August 26 for the Coke Zero Sugar 400. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. E.T. on NBC, MRN Radio and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.