AUSTIN CINDRIC No. 2 MENARDS / DURACELL FORD MUSTANG
START – 21ST
STAGE ONE – 19TH
STAGE TWO – 21ST
STAGE THREE – 13TH
FINISH – 31ST
RACE RUNDOWN: Austin Cindric was credited with a 31st-place finish after an early departure in Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the No. 2 Menards/Duracell Ford Mustang. After practice and qualifying went awash Saturday evening, the starting lineup for the longest race of the season was set based on NASCAR’s metric, which lined Cindric up 21st for the start. During a competition caution on Lap 35, Cindric was scored 25th and pitted for service to aid the balance. Cindric returned to pit road following a caution on Lap 74 and again at the conclusion of Stage 1 after finishing 19th. The Team Penske driver reported to his team that the car was tighter in Turn 1 and Turn 2,and headed to pit road for four tires and adjustments. Unfortunately, the No. 2 car was penalized for vehicle interference and had to restart at the tail. Rain moved into the area on Lap 158, bringing out the red flag. After a 30-minute red flag, a series of cautions ensued, and Cindric returned to the attention of the Menards pit crew for four tires and fuel on Lap 76, but unfortunately had to pit again for the crew to tighten the right-rear tire. The 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion finished Stage 2 21st. The No. 2 Ford Mustang restarted 20th and reported early in the segment that the car was tight firing off. Cindric moved up the charts, running as high as 12th before slipping to 13th at the end of Stage 3. The sophomore NASCAR Cup Series driver took the green flag 13th for the restart, but was unfortunately tagged from behind on Lap 371, sending the Menards/Duracell Mustang into the wall on the backstretch, collecting significant damage.
CINDRIC’S THOUGHTS: “You’re patient for 550 miles, why be patient for the last 40? I probably could have helped myself there by not drifting up the racetrack and knowing my own strength and weaknesses. It’s just unfortunate to get so close to the end of this race and not being able to finish it last year and the same with this year. I felt we had a lot of positives from today – some really good pit stops. We had good speed at times, but just having to put the whole race together as a team. I made some mistakes today and unfortunately not to be able to finish it off.”
RYAN BLANEY No. 12 BODYARMOR CHERRY LIME FORD MUSTANG
START – 8TH
STAGE ONE – 3RD
STAGE TWO – 5TH
STAGE THREE – 1ST
FINISH – 1ST
RACE RUNDOWN: Ryan Blaney captured Team Penske’s third Coca-Cola 600 victory Monday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, marking the first time Team Penske has won the Coca-Cola 600 and Indianapolis 500 in the same season. Blaney snapped a 59-race winless streak by leading a race-high – and career-high – 163 laps en route to his eighth-career win. The crown jewel victory also marks the first for Jonathan Hassler as a NASCAR Cup Series crew chief. Blaney took his first lead of the afternoon on lap 41 before settling into third in the latter stages of Stage 1 but battled with the No. 24 and No. 20 for the stage win before taking third in the opening stage. After continuing to run third for most of the Stage 2, Blaney brought the No. 12 to pit road for a scheduled green flag stop on lap 147 before the race went under the red flag on lap 155 for rain. Following a 30-minute delay, Blaney battled side-by-side with the No. 45 for the top spot before regaining the lead once again. However, teams on fresher tires made their way to the front, shuffling him back to fifth, where Blaney ultimately finished Stage 2. Blaney made his way back to the lead on lap 227 by making his way around the No. 4 with a big run off turn 4 and continued to lead while making the high line work. After the caution flag flew on lap 274, Blaney made a trip to pit road for four tires and a round of adjustments to address a loose-handling condition that set in on the long run. Despite battling back-and-forth with the No. 45 during the ensuing laps, Blaney prevailed to pick up the stage win in Stage 3. After coming off of pit road second during the stage break, Blaney once again regained the lead on the restart on lap 307. The final caution flag of the night waved on lap 374 on the opening lap of the restart where Blaney was scored the leader over the No. 24. The field took the green for the final time with 20 laps to go and Blaney stretched his lead lap-after-lap, culminating in his eighth-career NASCAR Cup Series victory.
BLANEY’S THOUGHTS: “Obviously a big weekend for Team Penske. Watching the Indy 500 yesterday, how that played out, and watching Josef win his first one and watching Mr. Penske win No. 19, that’s really cool to see. Especially when that stuff happens, you’re like, well, the pressure is on for us to try to sweep the weekend, especially in two really big races. That was the goal, and fortunately we executed well enough to get it done. I’m really looking forward to talking to Roger here after I get done and back to the bus because I haven’t congratulated him enough, and I’m looking forward to hearing his voice. A big weekend, and obviously winning the 600 is massive. I grew up coming here watching my dad race for a long time as a kid. It’s just what we did every summer. Really cool, and it was cool for my parents to be here as well. So that was a special moment. Fun night, that’s for sure. Monday races seem to go really well for me. I don’t know what it is, but definitely a fun night.”
JOEY LOGANO No. 22 SHELL-PENNZOIL FORD MUSTANG
START – 17TH
STAGE ONE – 21ST
STAGE TWO – 4TH
STAGE THREE – 11TH
FINISH – 21ST
RACE RUNDOWN: Joey Logano battled a loose-handling Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang from the onset of Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600, but the No. 22 team went to work on the handling following a 21st-place finish in Stage 1. Following a four-tire stop with a round of adjustments at the stage break, Logano worked his way back into the top-15 by lap 112 before green-flag pit stops began to cycle. After a 30-minute rain delay, the No. 22 team brought Logano to pit road under caution for a two-tire stop but suffered from a pit road penalty for equipment interference, relegating him to the tail end of the field. Logano used the No. 22 team’s off-sequence pit strategy to work his way up into the top-10 by the end of Stage 2, resulting in a fourth-place finish. He made his way up to second in the running order following the restart to begin Stage 3, but Logano began to suffer from a loose-handling condition through the corners as he was shuffled out of the top-10. Logano rallied for an 11th-place in Stage 3 and made his way back into the top-10 by the halfway mark of the final stage but was collected in the last caution of the night when the No. 5 went around on the exit of turn 2. Despite a pair of trips to pit road for four fresh tires and repairs to the nose and splitter, the No. 22 team was able to keep Logano on the lead lap and took the checkered flag 21st.
LOGANO’S THOUGHTS: “Tough night for the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang team. We struggled with the balance and unfortunately couldn’t miss the late accident and got damage. So happy for Team Penske, Josef, and Ryan on a weekend sweep.”
WHAT’S NEXT: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Worldwide Technology Raceway on Sunday, June 4 for the Enjoy Illinois 300. Coverage of the event will be carried on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at 3:30 pm E.T.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!