RACE RUNDOWN: Austin Cindric, driver of the No. 2 Menards/Duracell Ford Mustang, was credited with a 36th-place finish after an unfortunate early retirement in Sunday’s Shriners Children’s 500 at Phoenix Raceway. Cindric, a past winner at the one-mile Arizona track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, showed strong pace early in the weekend in a rare, full 50-minute practice session, but qualified 34th for the 312-mile race. Caught in a three-wide contingent on Lap 7, the 25-year-old Team Penske driver sustained severe damage to the left-front of the Menards/Duracell Ford Mustang forcing Cindric to retire from the race.  

CINDRIC’S THOUGHTS: “Unfortunate way to end the day for the No. 2 Menards/Duracell team. I was caught three-wide and couldn’t see in the smoke, hit the left front and broke the suspension. I felt like I got hit twice. I knew the 3 was on the inside but I thought he was going to fall but he came back up. We’ll regroup this week and head to Bristol.”
RACE RUNDOWN: Ryan Blaney rallied late to come away with a fifth-place finish Sunday afternoon, marking his third-straight top-five finish to open the 2024 season and sixth-consecutive top-five result at Phoenix Raceway. The No. 12 Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang charged through the field during the opening stage with strength on the long runs as Blaney made up nine spots to secure a seventh-place finish in Stage 1. Despite reporting a loose-handling condition through the corners during the initial run of the second stage, Blaney maintained the seventh spot in the running order before starting the green flag pit cycle on lap 115. Blaney ultimately came away with a sixth-place finish in Stage 2 before the No. 12 team gained him a position on pit road during the stage break, allowing Blaney to restart from the inside of row three for the start of the final segment. Three cautions in a span of 20 laps prompted teams to vary their strategies on making it on one or two pit stops, as Blaney and the No. 12 team opted to come to pit road under caution on lap 218 to stretch their fuel run to the end. Following the four-tire stop, Blaney restarted 20th and methodically made his way through traffic to race his way back into the top-10 with 39 laps to go before continuing his charge to the front and ultimately making the pass for fifth on the final lap as the No. 12 team closed out the west coast swing with a pair of top-five results.

BLANEY’S THOUGHTS: “That was a really long, hard-fought day to be honest. I thought we got better and better and through Stage 2 we got better but then I slipped on one of those restarts and lost like five spots. All those cautions we had to restart way back behind the guys that pitted the stop before us. We just worked our tails off to get back to fifth from where we were. I am worn out. That is the most worn-out I have been in a long time. I appreciate the 12 boys for sticking with it and fighting all day. Our Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang was fast. It was a long day but I am proud of the finish.”
RACE RUNDOWN: Joey Logano’s debut in the No. 22 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang came to an abrupt end Sunday afternoon in Phoenix after getting collected in a multi-car incident on lap 206, resulting in a 34th-place finish. Logano and the No. 22 team worked to remedy a loose-handling condition throughout the opening two stages that saw long, green-flag runs as Logano came away with a 25th-place finish in Stage 1 before coming away with a 21st-place finish in Stage 2. Following a four-tire stop and a round of adjustments prior to the start of the final stage, Logano was batting to stay in the free pass position when contact from the No. 42 in turn one sent him sliding up the track and into the outside wall, bringing Logano’s run to an end.

LOGANO’S THOUGHTS: “I think I just got hit from behind. It is a shame. We weren’t running well anyway, but this doesn’t make it any better. We were just fighting for the free pass. You get back there and everyone isn’t racing real well and we got caught up in it.”