Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Martinsville

October 31, 2022

Track:  Martinsville Speedway
Race:   Xfinity 500
Date:   October 30, 2022

No. 2 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang – Austin Cindric

Start: 30th
Race Finish: 26th
Stage 1 Finish: 27th
Stage 2 Finish: 29th
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings: 12th
Race Rundown: After starting Sunday's Xfinity 500 in the back half of the field, Austin Cindric fought his way up to 25th in the latter part of Stage 1 before going a lap down on Lap 92. Following a pit stop at the stage break for four tires, fuel, and an air pressure adjustment to alleviate a loose-handling condition, Cindric suffered nose and splitter damage to his No. 2 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang on the ensuing restart after the field stacked up in front of him. Cindric and the No. 2 team made several repairs and adjustments over the course of the second half of the race to address a tight-handling condition stemming from the damage, ultimately resulting in a 26th-place finish.
Cindric's Thoughts: "Our qualifying effort yesterday put us behind from the start. We were fighting to get back on the lead lap and just needed a few more spots to get us back in the game. We suffered nose damage after a huge check-up on the Stage 2 restart that made our Ford Mustang really tight. That took some power away as it choked off the air flow to the engine. We lost a few laps in Stage 2 before we were able to counter-adjust for the condition of the car. It's definitely been a humbling past two weeks but we're continuing to make progress."

No. 12 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney

Start: 4th
Race Finish: 3rd
Stage 1 Finish: 8th
Stage 2 Finish: 6th
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings: 8th
Race Rundown: Ryan Blaney started fourth and finished third in Sunday's Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway, the penultimate race of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. The driver of the Discount Tire Ford Mustang gave a valiant effort all day to score valuable stage points. Blaney would race inside the top five for much of the opening stage. Managing a car with slight balance issues, Blaney finished Stage 1 in the eighth position. Stage 2 would see the Discount Tire crew make positive adjustments with the Team Penske driver, concluding the segment in the sixth position. Strong pit service would move Blaney up to the second position with 100 laps to go. A late-race caution would see mixed strategies and Blaney would restart just outside the top five and fight his way to third by the end of the 500-lap race. Unfortunately, he would come up just short of making the Championship 4.
Blaney's Thoughts: "It just wasn't quite enough.  It was a wild day.  I didn't think we were great to start.  We kind of faded at the end of that first stage, but we got better throughout the night, which is good, and found ourselves in second on the second-to-last run and kind of ran the 20 down.  I got to him and then you burn your stuff up trying to pass somebody.  There weren't many passes for the lead tonight and then the last restart I thought I was in a good spot on the bottom.  I thought more pandemonium was gonna happen than that and the 20 got down and he was able to kind of go to work and I couldn't really get going as good.  It's unfortunate not to transfer, but proud of the effort.  I didn't do a great job the last two weeks and put us in a bad spot, but I'm proud of everyone all year and we'll try to go run well at Phoenix."

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano

Start: 12th
Race Finish: 6th
Stage 1 Finish: 13th
Stage 2 Finish: 8th
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings: 1st
Race Rundown: Joey Logano and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang team entered Sunday's race at Martinsville Speedway – the final cutoff race before next weekend's championship finale at Phoenix Raceway – without much pressure thanks to their win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway two weeks ago. The unpredictable nature of Martinsville certainly played out Sunday over the course of 500 laps, but with his spot in the Championship 4 secure, Logano's goals were to keep their momentum and not make any mistakes that would haunt them in the desert. He and the team checked all those boxes with a solid, sixth-place finish at the half-mile oval. After starting the race from the 12th position, the 2018 winner of this race had to deal with a lack of rear grip throughout the course of the race. Yet, Logano was able to gradually work his way through the field on the strength of his speed early in each stint, along with remarkable work on pit road by the Shell-Pennzoil pit crew. The most dramatic portion of the race for the No. 22 Ford team came just after a caution flag flew at lap 273 when Logano noticed flames coming from under the hood of his Mustang. He would be forced to pit to diagnose the issue, which turned out to be extensive rubber buildup from tire wear that ignited and he was able to continue. For the balance of the race, crew chief Paul Wolfe continued to make chassis and air pressure adjustments to give Logano the forward drive necessary to race inside the top five. They nearly accomplished that feat as Logano crossed the finish line in the sixth position.
Logano's Thoughts:
 "It was interesting.  We were OK.  I thought we were capable of running in the top five for sure.  We had that fire and had to pit to fix the fire and we lost our track position and then it's just hard to pass.  You get a couple spots here.  You get a couple on a restart.  You get a couple on pit road and then we kind of found ourselves in the spot you don't want to be in – you are the point person.  If the 11 passes me, he's in.  If he stays behind me, he's out.  That's like the last guy you want to be, so I figured I was gonna get knocked out of the way at some point.  We accomplished our goal.  We did a really good job on pit road.  We needed some good stops and got some momentum there.  We had a solid race car.  I didn't make any enemies and I still have my crew chief next week.  Those were the goals and we did that."