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Austin Cindric wins the Daytona 500

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Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

DAYTONA, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Austin Cindric gave Roger Penske the best birthday gift aa team owner could’ve asked for by winning Sunday’s season-opening NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500.

Cindric and Brad Keselowski were fighting for the lead down the backstretch on the last lap when Cindric’s teammate Ryan Blaney gave him a much needed push going into turns three and four.

Cindric came off four with Blaney in tow and as the pair cleared Keselowski, Blaney made a move to the high side, Cindric through a block, which sent Blaney into the outside wall as a hard-charging Bubba Wallace tried to get underneath Cindric on the low side.  Cindric came back down the track and beat Wallace to the checkered flag to get his first Cup Series win.

“First and foremost Roger Penske, happy birthday,” an elated Cindric said on the front stretch immediately after the race. “Appreciate Ryan (Blaney) being a great teammate. Obviously he wants to win this one, but I’m so pumped for Discount Tire, Menards, Ford.”

Wallace thought he was charging to a victory but settled for second and was obviously disappointed to be the runner-up.

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“I was happy on the first second place we got a couple years ago,” said Wallace.  “This one sucks when you’re that close. When you come out of the gates like that, it’s empowering, it’s encouraging. So thanks, everybody, back at the shop, McDonald’s, almost got them another one, back-to-back superspeedway wins. That would have been awesome, especially with it being the 500. But just short.”

Chase Briscoe finished third.  Briscoe was behind Keselowski but couldn’t give the No. 6 Ford the push he needed to get the lead.

“Just couldn’t quite get to Brad,” explained Briscoe. “I needed to be able to get to Brad, and he was having to drag so much brake for me to be able to help him. I wish I was more help. If I could have locked on, I could have got him up there.”

The victory locks Cindric and the No. 2 Ford Mustang team into the NASCAR Playoffs.

“I know there’s going to be highs and lows, being a rookie in a field of drivers this strong,” said Cindric. “But we’re in the playoffs. That’s one good box checked.”

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NASCAR

Ryan Blaney wins NASCAR All-Star race at Texas

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Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

FORT WORTH, TX (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Ryan Blaney held off Denny Hamlin to win Sunday’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway.  The victory was Blaney’s first in the event and Team Penske’s fourth.

Blaney won the event’s third stage guaranteeing him a front row starting spot for the final stage.  Blaney got a huge push from teammate Austin Cindric and powered to the victory.

“This Mustang was a rocketship,” said Blaney. “I am really glad we ended up winning that after that last caution. I am so proud of everybody. Tonight will be fun.”

“Really happy for Ryan (Blaney) and the No. 12 team,” said Cindric. “They had the fastest car all night and if I wasn’t going to win it, I was committed to helping him. I lined up behind him on that last restart and gave him the best push possible.”

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Hamlin was upset after the race that NASCAR extended the final caution to accommodate Blaney, who dropped his window net when he thought the race was over when in fact the caution light came on before he crossed the start/finish line.

“It’s tough because he deserved to win the race, but if you mess up and you break a rule – not intentionally, but there’s rules and we have rules in place for safety,” said Hamlin. “My crew chief is taking four weeks off (a penalty from a pit-road infraction earlier in the season) because of safety.”

“I already took my window net down and everything,” explained Blaney. “My left arm is worn out from trying to get that damn thing back up. I got it rigged up enough to where it halfway stayed. I appreciate NASCAR for not making us come down pit road to fix it and letting me get it clipped back again to where we could stay out there.”

Next up for the NASCAR Cup Series is the Coca-Cola 600 next Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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NASCAR

Racing Notebook: Logano on Darlington pole; Allgaier wins Xfinity race and more

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Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

DARLINGTON, SC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – It’s NASCAR ‘throwback’ weekend in Darlington, South Carolina where all three series are on the track this weekend.

Logano Take Cup Series Pole:

  • Team Penske’s Joey Logano is on the pole position for Sunday’s 3rd Annual Goodyear 400.  Logano’s fast lap of 28.805-seconds (170.720 mph) was .082-seconds quicker than Hendrick Motorsports Kyle Larson’s 28.887.  Hendrick’s Chase Elliott, Stewart Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick and B.J. McCloud did not make qualifying attempts after separate issues in practice. The green flag drops at 3:30 p.m. on FS1. Darlington Cup Lineup
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Allgaier Wins Xfinity Race:

  • Justin Allgaier beat JR Motorsports Noah Gragson by .259-seconds to win Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Mahindra ROXOR 200 at Darlington Raceway. In a 2-lap shootout following a caution flag, Allgaier quickly dispatched A.J. Allmendinger – who was on 16-lap older tires and drove away with Gragson in tow.  JRM drivers now have won three straight races in the series. Darlington Xfinity Results

Nemechek Wins Truck Series Race:

  • John Hunter Nemechek beat Carson Hocevar by .552-seconds in overtime to win Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Dead On Tools 200 at Darlington Raceway.  Wexford native Kris Wright finished 32nd after starting 21st in the No. 44 VFW Chevrolet thanks to an accident. Darlington Truck Series Results
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McGriff, Shelmerdine and Kenseth elected to NASCAR Hall of Fame

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Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Herschel McGriff, Kirk Shelmerdine and Matt Kenseth have been elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2023.  Mike Helton was also named the recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.

McGriff’s first race was the 1950 Southern 500, in the NASCAR Cup Series’ sophomore season, at the age of 22. His final NASCAR race was at Tucson Speedway in the NASCAR Pro Series West – in 2018 at the age of 90. McGriff started 85 races in parts of 28 NASCAR Cup Series seasons, capturing four wins – all in 1954, when he finished sixth in championship points.

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Shelmerdine won four total Cup Series championships with Earnhardt (1986, ’87, ’90, ’91). Over his 16-year crew chief career with Earnhardt, Rudd, James Hylton and Richard Childress, he won 46 races and posted top-10 finishes in more than half his starts.

Kenseth, the 2003 Cup Series Champion, scored 39 Cup wins, which tie for 21st on the all-time list and include two Daytona 500s, the Southern 500, Coca-Cola 600 and the All-Star Race.

The Class of 2023 Induction Ceremony is set for Friday, Jan. 20, 2023 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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