Team Penske NASCAR Xfinity Race Report

June 8, 2019

Track:    Michigan International Speedway
Race:     LTi Printing 250
Date:     June 8, 2019

No. 12 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang – Paul Menard  
Start: 1st (Sixth Career NASCAR Xfinity Series Pole)
Stage 1: 1st
Stage 2: 3rd
Finish: 4th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 125/125
Laps Led: 56
Driver Point Standings (behind first): N/A 

Paul Menard made his first NASCAR Xfinity Series start of the 2019 season Saturday and his day couldn't have started any better. Menard ripped off a lap at 37.237 seconds, 193.356 mph, to win the pole position, his second at Michigan and the sixth pole of his NXS career. Menard claimed a fourth-place finish in the LTi Printing 250, his seventh top-five in 14 starts at the 2.0-mile speedway.

Menard pulled away from the field at the drop of the green flag, leading every lap to win Stage 1. The balance on the No. 12 Mustang was free during the first segment but Menard stayed up front in clean air. He pitted during the stage caution for two tires and remained in the lead when the race went green on lap 37.

The Menards/Richmond Ford was tight at the beginning of Stage 2 but freed up as the run went on. He led until lap 58 when a piece of debris on the nose of the No. 12 Mustang forced Menard to back off slightly to avoid overheating the engine. Despite the conservative strategy, Menard finished third when the stage ended on lap 60. He pitted during the stage caution for four tires and adjustments and restarted third when the final segment began on lap 67.
He was battling for positions inside the top-five when the sixth and final caution flag flew on lap 78. Menard pitted for four tires and fuel during the yellow but restarted outside the top-10 on lap 81. Over the final 44 laps, Menard powered his back through the field despite the No. 12 Mustang being tight during the last run. He rallied back to fourth-place when the checkered flag waved on lap 125. 

"It is kind of interesting how the lines kind of moved around. I could make time on the bottom and you normally can't here. The Menards/Richmond Ford was really fast up front. We were just a little on the loose side early in the race. Then you get behind and it is like you have to adjust for it more when you hit traffic. I was just a little tight at the end. Everyone on the Richmond/Menards Ford Mustang was great. We were probably just one adjustment off at the end."


No. 22 LTi Printing Ford Mustang – Austin Cindric 
Start: 5th
Stage 1: 6th
Stage 2: 11th
Finish: 11th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 125/125
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 4th (-141 leader)f 

Austin Cindric scored an 11th-place finish in the LTi Printing 250 Saturday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway. Cindric remains fourth in the driver point standings, 141 behind leader Tyler Reddick and 24 behind third-place Cole Custer.

The driver of the LTi Printing Ford Mustang earned the fifth-place starting position during qualifying for the 125-lap, 250-mile race on Saturday morning. Starting on the inside lane, Cindric fell to the eighth position before the first caution on lap 6. He moved up to sixth-place when the second yellow came out on lap 13. The young driver reported that his LTi Printing Mustang was loose on corner entry and tight on exit. The first stage concluded on lap 30 with Cindric scoring a sixth-place finish. Crew chief Brian Wilson made the call to pit during the stage caution on lap 32 for four tires, fuel and adjustments. Mixed strategy between two tires and four tires shuffled Cindric back to ninth in the running order when the race restarted on lap 37.

Cindric made his way back to the sixth position during the early laps of Stage 2 but slipped back to 10th – thanks to his No. 22 Mustang getting too tight He scored and 11th-place finish when the stage ended on lap 60. During the stage caution, Wilson called for four tires, fuel and more adjustments to improve the balance of the LTi Printing Ford. Cindric would line up 12th for the final stage when the race when green on lap 67.

On lap 73, the fifth caution slowed the pace. Cindric pitted for fuel only during the yellow and restarted 11th when the race went green on lap 76. As Cindric was racing his way back inside the top-10, he suffered left-front damage when Tommy Joe Martins got loose and slid up the track into Cindric's path. The damage forced Cindric to pit during the sixth and final caution on lap 78 for four tires and repairs. He restarted 20th when the race went green on lap 81. 

Over the final 44 laps, Cindric wrestled his way into contention for a top-10 finish despite the No. 22 Mustang being "plowing tight" thanks to the cosmetic damage from the earlier incident. He overcame the handling difficulties to finish 11th, just outside the top-10.
"I think we have some valuable takeaways from having both Team Penske Mustangs on the track cars on track this weekend. I wish we would have scored a better finish for all the great folks at LTi Printing who were at the track this weekend. I'm looking forward to going short track racing next week in Iowa."