Team Penske NASCAR XFINITY Series Race Report
Track: Pocono Raceway
Race: Pocono Green 250 Recycled by J.P. Mascaro & Sons
Date: June 2, 2018
No. 12 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Mustang – Austin Cindric
Stage 1: 3rd
Stage 2: 4th
Laps Completed: 100/100
Laps Led: 1
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 10th (-186)
- Austin Cindric scored his best finish in the 13-career NASCAR XFINITY Series races with a fourth-place effort Saturday afternoon at Pocono Raceway. Cindric grabbed his fifth top-10 finish of the season and moved up to 10th-place in the driver standings, a gain of two positions. He was also the top finishing Sunoco Rookie of the Race.
- Cindric started third in the Pocono Green 250 and finished the first 25-lap stage right where he started – in third position. He told crew chief Matt Swiderski that his No. 22 Ford Mustang was really good so no adjustments were made when he pitted during the stage caution on lap 27 for four tires. Cindric restarted 10th when Stage 2 began on lap 30.
- He picked off five positions on the restart and ended the 20-lap segment in fourth position. During the stage break, Cindric wanted his car to be freer for the final stage. Swiderski made air pressure and track bar adjustments. Unfortunately, Cindric was hit with a speeding penalty entering pit lane, which shuffled him back to 17th position for the restart on lap 55.
- During Stage 3, Cindric wasted little time getting to the front. By lap 61 he was inside the top-10 and just five laps later he was running fifth. On lap 67 he moved up to fourth-place. He briefly slipped back to fifth on lap 85 when Chase Elliott found a way past but he regained the lost position on lap 88 when passed Cole Custer. Cindric held firm to the position over the final 11 laps to claim his first top-five at Pocono.
Quote: “It was awesome to be able to experience running up there against Chase Elliott and those guys. That is an experience that I can’t give up. I love racing around those guys. Chase was saving tires behind us and that was a pretty cool deal. I need to have more races like this and need to get some stage wins so that we can be competitive come the playoffs. We have two more races with this same package and I think Michigan will be more of a pack race because we expect it to be wide open all the way around. Here at Pocono, the detriment to this package is you had to get all the way out of the gas so it was still a handling race. I can’t complain because I had a really fast Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Mustang and it was a car that with track position it was capable of winning. When that is the case everything is in your hands and that is all a driver can ask for.”
No. 22 LTi Printing Ford Mustang – Paul Menard
Stage 1: 8th
Stage 2: 1st
Laps Completed: 100/100
Laps Led: 3
Owner Point Standings (behind first): 2nd (-19)
- Paul Menard finished eighth in his debut behind the wheel of the No. 22 LTi Printing Ford Mustang Saturday afternoon at Pocono Raceway.
- Menard kicked off his first of four races with Team Penske by qualifying 13th. The veteran driver quickly worked his way into the top-10 during the first 25-laps stage. He finished Stage 1 in eighth position and reported that his Mustang was a tick tight in traffic. Crew chief Brian Wilson pitted the No. 22 Ford on lap 27 for four tires, fuel, and adjustments in an effort to loosen up the car. Menard lined up ninth when the race went green on lap 30.
- Menard gained five positions on the restart to move up to fourth-place and by lap 37 he was racing inside the top-three. He grabbed the lead from Cole Custer on lap 49 and was able to hold off the young driver to win Stage 2 after an impressive, side-by-side battle for the lead.
- With different pit strategies playing out, Menard started fifth when Stage 3 began on lap 55. Two cautions and their respective restarts over the next 10 laps were not kind to Menard. On the final restart of the race on lap 66, Menard was shuffled back 10th position.
- But despite piloting a Mustang that became tight during a long run, Menard consistently ran lap times better than race leader Kyle Busch. He was able to scramble his way back thru traffic and up to eighth position before the checkered flag.
- The No. 22 Ford team remains second in owner points trailing the No. 18 of Joe Gibbs Racing by 19 markers.
- Menard will make his second start for Team Penske and the No. 22 team next weekend in Michigan.
Quote: “It was an up and down day. We knew we had a good LTi Printing Ford Mustang even though we didn’t qualify very well. I actually thought that was a good thing because we got to drive up there and kept freeing up the car and got a stage win. We just wound up too tight at the end. We needed one more adjustment and we would have been good. We had a couple of good restarts and that last restart we got boxed in and lost a lot of track position and it was hard to get back up there.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!