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News

Tyler Reddick rallies for MoneyLion 300 victory

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Tyler Reddick overcame a pit road speeding penalty and damage to the right side of his No. 2 Chevrolet to win Saturday’s MoneyLion 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.

With the right side of his Richard Childress Racing Chevy heavily taped after a brush with the outside wall, Reddick crossed the finish line at the end of a two-lap closing dash .127 seconds ahead of runner-up Gray Gaulding, who drove his No. 08 Chevrolet to the first top-10 finish of his career.

The reigning series champion, who moved from JR Motorsports to RCR during the offseason, won for the first time this year, the first time at Talladega and the fourth time in his career, extending his series lead to 32 points over third-place finisher Christopher Bell.

Reddick also won the $100,000 Dash4Cash bonus that goes to the highest finisher among four eligible drivers.

“I tried to take us out of this race so many times, and somehow we got back into the mix and got back to the lead,” said Reddick, who blocked for all he was worth on the final two laps after a seven-car incident on Lap 109 forced NASCAR to red-flag the event for track clean-up.

In fact, Reddick had luck on his side, too. After contact with the wall, he was roughly 200 yards from going a lap down when NASCAR called the third caution of the race on Lap 66 for debris in Turn 1. Twenty laps later, Reddick escaped contact with Noah Gragson’s Chevy without significant damage.

But it was dodging a Lap 95 wreck involving pole winner Michael Annett, Justin Allgaier and Cole Custer that finally gave Reddick the sense that it might be his day.

“As soon as I missed that wreck when the 00 (Custer) and the 1 (Annett) got caught up, and I somehow missed it, and the 23 (John Hunter Nemechek) did a great job weaving his way out of it, too, I thought, ‘There must be a reason why I wasn’t in that wreck,’” Reddick said. “It was just a lot of fun to work my way back to the front.”

Chase Briscoe finished fourth, as he Reddick, Bell and Gaulding earned the four qualifying positions for next Saturday’s Dash4Cash race at Dover.

Austin Cindric was fifth, followed by Nemecheck, Justin Haley, Josh Williams, Landon Cassill and Chris Cockrum, who, like Gaulding, scored his first career top 10.

Gaulding had a run on the backstretch on the final lap, but a block from Briscoe slowed his momentum.

“I was kind of the lone ranger out there,” Gaulding said. “I think I just had to earn a lot of people’s respect. I did as much as I could to get beside him (Reddick), but when the 98 (Briscoe) came up, he kind of blocked my run.

“Man, it was so, so close. Man, what a day, baby. Talladega—let’s go!”

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XFINITY

ASHLEY ASKS…… Tyler Reddick

After winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship last year, Tyler Reddick will be back to defend his title in 2019. Though after clinching the title with JR Motorsports, he switched teams over the winter and will be driving for Richard Childress Racing. 

The California native recently spoke with POPULAR SPEED about his thoughts entering the season.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts entering the season?

NIGEL KINRADE | NKP

TYLER REDDICK: I’m really excited to be with a new team. It’s kind of bittersweet to win a championship with JR Motorsports and leave, but yet exciting to have a fresh start with a new group of guys and go for the same thing, but obviously we want to do it better.

We want as consistent as we can, and that’s going to be our goal for this year. We’re just going to try and attack it. it’s about being more consistent and hopefully have the same result, but hopefully a cleaner more dominant path to that point.

PS: What track are you looking forward to the most?

TYLER: For me, the end of the year at Homestead is a highlight. Any of the worn out mile-and-a-halves like that, like Chicagoland, Kansas and Atlanta – they offer lots of grooves on the racing surface. You can move around and find speed, and they also have a lot of tire fall off. So places like those I’m glad to get to.

PS: On the flip side, what is one track that you wish was on the NASCAR schedule that currently isn’t?

TYLER: It’s hard to say. I feel like a lot of the tracks that I enjoy are still on the NASCAR schedule. I love Rockingham; that’s probably one that I wish was back on the schedule. But aside from that, it’s hard for me to say as a lot of the tracks that I like are currently on the schedule.

PS: What are your thoughts on working with your new teammates this season?

TYLER: I’m really excited to have a teammate if you will, a full-time teammate with Kaulig Racing. I think me and Justin (Haley) will be able to share a lot of great information that will more or less be important to look at after practice and what not.

We can both go into the weekend with a little bit differing strategy to go through our work book for practice and hopefully with that, if one of us is struggling we can refer to the other’s notebook and set our cars accordingly and be able to salvage the weekend.

NIGEL KINRADE | NKP

PS: Last year was a big season for you. As we move forward to 2019, what are your final reflections on the championship campaign that was?

TYLER: Obviously it’s really cool to win a championship. It’s honestly even cooler to win a championship the way we did, but we can do it better it than the way we did this past year. That’s obviously going to be our goal. Looking back, we won the championship, came back strong when we needed to, and performed when we had to, but it’s time to have the playoff mindset all year round and be more consistent through the regular season.

PS: If you were in charge of NASCAR for one day, what is one change that you would make to help the sport?

TYLER: It’s probably a hard answer for me to give right out of the blue. Some things I wish were different, but I think they’re trying to do the best they can with what they have in place. We’re trying new things, things like every year as there’s always a bit of a change every year; we’re just trying to make the racing better for the fans and obviously at the end of the day, what’s most important is putting fans in the seats. It’s all about putting a car on the track that the fans enjoy, because at the end of the day, this doesn’t happen without the support from them.

PS: We’ve seen a lot of drivers running different cars and series recently. What is a series/type of car that is on your bucket list to one day try?

TYLER: There’s a lot of things out there that I want to drive one day. Obviously the major bucket list item still is to get to the Cup Series, and to compete for a Monster Energy Cup Championship. But after that, who knows. There’s a lot of things that I want to do in life, and a lot of cars to race across the entire globe. But first and foremost, the primary goal remains to be a Monster Energy Cup Champion.

PS: Growing up, who was your racing hero?

TYLER: I think the biggest one was Steve Kinser. Guys like Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. – just incredible drivers with incredible drives. They just do things in racecars that most people couldn’t possibly do, and those kind of aggressive drivers and great models for the sport are who I looked up to.

PS: Based on your experience to date, what would be your advice to someone looking to get into racing?

Nigel Kinrade | NKP

TYLER: It’s hard to say because there’s so many different ways you can become a racecar driver, or say not become a driver. But the biggest thing I can say is you have to have fun most importantly. You have to ask yourself how serious you are, how badly you want it because you have to from the day you start to the day your career ends, you have to make a lot of sacrifices along the way to become a racecar driver.

Some people make some sacrifices but not all the sacrifices to win championships and win the amount of races that Dale Earnhardt Sr. won, Jimmie Johnson won – or Richard Petty. So you just have to be prepared to ask yourself how far are you willing to go to be the best there ever was, or be the best that you can be. It’s kind of a inner-battle; a huge mental battle, and something that I think a lot of people forget as much as the cars play a factor in what happens week-in-week-out, the biggest factor in racing is the driver and the mental side is a huge part of that. 

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Nigel Kinrade Photography XFINITY

Through the Eyes of NKP: 2018 NXS Champion Tyler Reddick

With two victories and seven top-five’s, Tyler Reddick put together a stellar season en route to being crowned the 2018 NASCAR XFINITY Series Champion.

With the help of Nigel Kinrade Photography (NKP), led by veteran photographer, Nigel Kinrade, lets take a look back at the season that was for the JR Motorsports driver.

Barry Cantrell | Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway
Russell Labounty | O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway
Nigel Kinrade | Drive for the Cure 200 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL 
Logan Whitton | Rosanne 300 at Auto Club Speedway
Nigel Kinrade | Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Barry Cantrell | Whelen Trusted to Perform 200 at ISM Raceway 
Russell LaBounty | PowerShares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway
Matthew T. Thacker | Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway
Nigel Kinrade | Johnsonville 180 at Road America
John Harrelson | Bar Harbor 200 at Dover International Speedway

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
News

Tyler Reddick wins at Homestead in stunning Xfinity championship run

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Tyler Reddick was the only driver of the Championship 4 who really liked it on top, and his willingness to run the wall paid off with a race win and a NASCAR Xfinity Series title.

Charging forward in the top lane, even though it meant an occasional brush with the outside wall, Reddick pulled away from pole winner Cole Custer during a long green-flag run to the finish to win Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 by 6.902 seconds.

“I picked a really good time to get my life together and decide to win a race,” and elated Reddick said in Victory Lane.

In fact, Saturday’s win was the third in Reddick’s career and his second of the season. Reddick won the 2018 opener at Daytona International Speedway by .0004 seconds over JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler, who finished 14th on Saturday in his final start as a full-time driver.

At Daytona, Reddick’s margin of victory translated to roughly three inches. At Homestead, it was a no-doubter. Once he passed fellow Championship 4 competitor Christopher Bell for the lead on Lap 164 of 200 and stayed within inches with the wall lap after lap, he quickly pulled away for the win, the championship and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.

“I just knew we had to execute,” Reddick said. “I thought we had a chance if we just made it to Homestead. I like this track-it rewards my aggression. Tonight, we hit the wall a lot, but the car kept in one piece, enough for me to get to the end.”

Pit strategy also played out in Reddick’s favor. Bell came to pit road under green on Lap 141, and Reddick followed a lap later. Custer didn’t bring his No. 00 Ford to pit road from the lead until Lap 147, after losing roughly two seconds per lap, and exited 8.006 seconds behind Reddick.

Bell passed Reddick for the lead on Lap 154 but within 10 laps the seven-time winner had used up his short-run speed and surrendered the top spot back to Reddick.

“He went out and attacked, attacked, attacked all night, and it paid off for him,” Bell said of Reddick’s effort. “I was good on the bottom, and I had glimpses of hope, but we just weren’t fast enough.”

Custer took second from Bell on Lap 165 and closed to within 2.7 seconds with 30 laps left, but Custer couldn’t find speed at the top of the track and quickly lost ground.

“I think if we could have run the top better, we could have won,” said Custer, who led the first 93 laps before losing two positions on pit road during stops under caution after the second stage. “We got so far behind (after the exchange of pit stops), and once I caught him, our tires got equaled out, and then he started running the top, and I just couldn’t keep up with him.

“Congrats to Tyler. I’m happy for him, but it’s frustrating.”

Trying to run the top lane, Bell smacked the wall on Lap 181 and had to pit with a flat right-rear tire on Lap 190. He finished 11th, one lap down. Championship 4 driver Daniel Hemric ran a distant fourth behind Reddick, Custer and John Hunter Nemechek. Hemric was 17.836 seconds behind Reddick at the finish.

Austin Cindric finished fifth, followed by Ryan Preece and Justin Allgaier, the last driver on the lead lap.

Reddick is the third JR Motorsports driver in five years to win the Xfinity championship as a rookie, following Chase Elliott (2014) and William Byron (2017), both of whom now drive for Hendrick Motorsports in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. All three rookie champions have driven the No. 9 Chevrolet for JRM.

“(Crew chief) Dave (Elenz) had a great strategy tonight that cycled Tyler into the lead,” said team co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. “And Tyler had the speed and the nerve to run the laps he needed to keep the lead.

“I’m telling you, to run on that fence like he did at the end of that race, that takes some precision. He did such an amazing job doing that, and he earned the victory tonight and the championship.”

Categories
XFINITY

Saturday’s Ford Ecoboost 300 Set to Make Another Name

Miami Beach, FL – Since 2016, NASCAR has used the current playoff format in the XFINITY and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

The format has helped emphasize a welcome change. Before the 2011 season, the XFINITY Series was dominated by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regulars and from 2006 until 2011, the champions of the second tier-level were all Cup regulars.

That left many with an uneasy feeling, especially fans that wanted to see the young guys coming up in the ranks race for something valuable and important in their careers. A championship for an XFINITY Series regular would not only put their names on the spotlight but may very well lead them to a future opportunity in the Cup Series. I mean, isn’t that what we have seen since 2011?

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the championship two straight years and ended up with a full-time ride in the Cup Series. We can keep naming drivers because every title holder has ended u at the premier level.

NASCAR’s effort to focus on the XFINITY Series stars has set up drivers to showcase their talent. This weekend, four competitors coming from different backgrounds will battle with one common goal – their first XFINITY Series championship.

Cole Custer was the first to lock his spot into the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He put himself in position to race for a title when he won at Texas Motor Speedway a few weeks back. Last year, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver won the season finale at Homestead-Miami, but will that give him an advantage on Saturday?

“It definitely helps because we have good notes to rely on and stuff like that but also Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell came here and tested so they’ve got to be a lot better where they were last year,” Custer said. “Well see there’s always the little differences like the bodies, the tires are a little bit different, so you have to adjust for that and do your homework.”

23-year-old Christopher Bell comes from a successful dirt racing background before transitioning over to asphalt. Last season, Bell won five races and took home the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title.

We can say that his season in the XFINITY Series has been dominant. Bell has scored seven victories, five poles and has an average finish of 11.1. Although he seemed like the favorite to take home the championship, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver had to overcome a devastating Round of 8.

After having accidents at Kansas Speedway and Texas, Bell’s only choice to advance was by winning at iSM Raceway. The Norman, Oklahoma native started from the rear of the field after failing inspection but was still able to secure the victory last Saturday.

With this being the last round, those struggles are now an afterthought. Bell finished second at Homestead last season when he won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship.

“I don’t know if winning the championship gives me an advantage but the fact that I was in the championship 4 and understand the process and what the pressure is like racing for a championship,” Bell told POPULAR SPEED. “So, just being in that situation I think has its advantages and hopefully I can use that. The only thing different going into this weekend is that we are only racing three cars. Instead of going out there trying to win the race all I have to do is beat three competitors.”

Tyler Reddick is another one of those guys with a dirt racing background. He began the season pulling off the victory at Daytona International Speedway with his new team, JR Motorsports.

His consistency in the Round of 8 put him in position to run for the championship. Last month, it was announced that Reddick would be switching to Richard Childress Racing for the 2019 season in the XFINITY Series.

“It would be fantastic,” Reddick said. “This year didn’t really go as planned like we were wanted it to. We had speed most of the year at certain race tracks and just didn’t capitalize on the moments that we really should of. This playoff system and format has been really nice to us, we were able to kind of reset and the last six races and almost wanted to rip our heads up in practice, but we found a way to perform and make it to the next round.”

This last guy in the running is still winless, surprisingly. Coming from the heart of stock car racing, Daniel Hemric grew up competing on asphalt in his home state of North Carolina. Scoring 15 top-five finishes is as close as it gets to winning a race; now on Saturday, he chases not only  a win, but also a championship.

“I’ve been fortunate to win championships in so many different levels but every time you make a step in your career you never know what you’re going to be like until you are in that situation,” Hemric told POPULAR SPEED. “I know whatever it is I’d be elated to know that we accomplished something that we’ve set out to do since last November and the heartbreak we experienced 12 months ago at Homestead.”

It may very well come down to that. Fans are hoping to see all four cars contending for a title duke it out until the finish. Thanks to the changes NASCAR has made throughout the years, the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway has become an event any die-hard NASCAR fan should experience in person.

No, that does not mean you can compare it to the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500, or the Monaco Grand Prix. It is just a unique weekend full of excitement because we know only four drivers from each series will race for a championship.

EMAIL BRANDON AT: brandon.rivero@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @MrBrandonRivero

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Nigel Kinrade Photography XFINITY

GALLERY: NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship 4

Youth is the name of the game in the NASCAR XFINITY Series as four of the sports’ growing stars will fight it out for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday afternoon.

NKP

Cole Custer

Season Statistics: One race win, Two stage wins, 13 top-five’s, 25 top-10’s

After a slow start to the Round of 12, Cole Custer did what he needed to do in the Round of 8, scoring the victory at Texas Motor Speedway to lock himself into the Championship 4. He then backed it up with a solid eighth at ISM Raceway.

Custer scored his first career series victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway last year, to go along with a 17th-place finish in 2016.

NIGEL KINRADE | NKP

Christopher Bell

Season Statistics: Seven race wins, Six stage wins, 18 top-five’s, 20 top-10’s

Christopher Bell was hot through the Round of 12 with a pair of victories at Richmond Raceway and Dover International Speedway in the midst of an impressive rookie campaign. However, the first two races of the Round of 8 saw him spin on the opening lap, forcing him into a must-win situation at ISM. Despite having to start from the rear of the field due to failing pre-qualifying inspection three times, he was able to score the victory. 

He qualified third last year at Homestead-Miami Speedway, before finishing 36th following a blowing an engine.

BARRY CANTRELL | NKP

Tyler Reddick

Season Statistics: One race win, One stage win, Six top-five’s, 19 top-10’s

Consistency paid off for Tyler Reddick as a sixth-place finish at ISM Raceway for his fifth playoff top-10 allowed him to transfer into the Championship 4. While he hasn’t reached victory lane since the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway, he has challenged for victories, including leading until the last lap at Texas Motor Speedway before being passed by Custer. 

He finished fourth in his first trip to Homestead-Miami Speedway last year after starting pole.

MATTHEW T. THACKER | NKP

Daniel Hemric

Season Statistics: Zero wins, Nine stage wins, 15 top-five’s, 22 top-10’s

Daniel Hemric has been solid through the playoffs with six straight top-10 performances, including a runner-up this past Saturday at ISM Raceway. Despite not winning a race this year, he has led 440 laps.

He placed 34th in his first trip to Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2017 after starting fourth.

All Photos Courtesy of Nigel Kinrade Photography

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Reddick Establishing Himself As A Threat

It was not the win he wanted, but Tyler Reddick’s second-place finish in Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 may prove huge when looking at the championship picture.

The driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet now sits second in the points standings with a 20-point cushion over the cutoff, meaning a solid race at ISM Raceway could very easily secure him a spot in the Championship 4.

This may come as a surprise to a lot of people as Reddick wasn’t viewed by many as a contender entering the playoffs and, understandably so.

After winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series’ season-opener at Daytona International Speedway, expectations were high for the 22-year-old; but after an average regular season which included nine finishes outside the top-20, he fell off the radar while his teammates, Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier, were among the best.

Even in the opening round of the playoffs Reddick wasn’t necessarily lighting the world on fire, with finishes of seventh, ninth, and 14th.

Even in the opening round of the playoffs Reddick wasn’t necessarily lighting the world on fire, with finishes of seventh, ninth, and 14th.

The last two races though have provided a completely different story than what’s been told all year. At Kansas Speedway, he qualified well (sixth), avoided the early chaos, and finished fifth. This weekend, he again started up front (fourth), and continued to show improvement by remaining in the top-10  for the majority of the race and leading the most laps, something he hasn’t done all season long.

Not only has Reddick found momentum at the right time, but he has also done so where others haven’t. To put it in perspective, he is the only one of the eight remaining playoff drivers to have back-to-back top-fives. Drivers like Allgaier and Christopher Bell, who entered the final seven races as favorites to capture the title, are now on the outside searching in, desperately looking for success the No. 9 team has had.

So that begs the question, is too soon to be saying Reddick is a championship threat? No.

After all, this is not your usual underdog situation. Reddick drives for JR Motorsports, meaning he has some of the best equipment at his arsenal. The fact he is showing the knowledge to use it properly should scare other teams. The recent improvement shown has more than legitimized him, and if it continues, there is no reason to he couldn’t win the title.

Reddick, who announced earlier this week he would be moving to Richard Childress Racing in 2019, may see the most significant two weeks of his young career in his final moments with Dale Earnhardt Jr‘s team.

EMAIL MITCHELL AT mitchell.breuer@popularspeed.com

TWITTER: @MitchellB66

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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XFINITY

OBSERVATIONS: Lilly Diabetes 250

The racing was close and exciting, with certainly some highlights for weeks to come, but does it come with a price? You can be the judge.

For the second straight year in a row, NASCAR used the high downforce package for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As it did last year, it produced exciting racing with the field close together and passes for position throughout the event. You can’t argue against that when you have a four-wide finish at the end of stage one. 

However, the flip side is the fact that the areo package was used to manipulate the racing to create this, and it’s just like your standard restrictor plate, package racing. When it comes to your purest, that may not be the route to go as it should be about performance and speed, rather than bending things to create the image you want.

Some people fall on one side of the equation while others will side a different direction, hence the debate happening right now in NASCAR as there is discussion about this coming into plate for more intermediate races in the future. With fields becoming strung out on a weekly basis and passing harder to accomplish, the sanctioning body is trying to do whatever they can to spice things up to brings fans back. While on paper it could appear this is the solution, it may not be the route to go.

Although the event was exciting at times, the finish turned out very dull as JR Motorsports teammates Justin Allgaier and Tyler Reddick crossed the line single-file ahead of Ryan Blaney. Reddick said he was looking for a run, but didn’t want to cost the team a one-two finish in the process so he was being cautious in his decision. While the team may have won, the fans lost out there.

Allgaier’s victory allows him to extend his advantage over the field, now 49 points ahead of Christopher Bell with one race remaining in the regular season. As long as he has a smooth day in Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he will walk away with those 15 bonus points.

The race to the playoffs has also turned into a bit of a bore for the XFINITY Series as everybody is in, unless we have a winner that is currently not in a qualifying position. Given the competition level, that’s highly unlikely. 

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

OBSERVATIONS: Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway

The NASCAR XFINITY Series has put on some of the best shows over the past couple of weeks, and the Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Although having a reputation for tearing up a whole bunch of equipment at the race’s conclusion, this year did not see a repeat of that as everybody managed to hold on to their cars. That said, it wasn’t boring by any means either with a classic battle between Spencer Gallagher and Tyler Reddick for the top spot. One ill-timed block by Reddick was all that Gallagher needed to get by, and score the win.

Notably, Gallagher has only led a single lap in the XFINITY Series to date – the last lap that won him the race at Talladega, giving GMS Racing their first win as an organization. It’s no secret that the driver of the No. 23 Chevrolet struggled last year, but this season has seen him run up front on a weekly basis, and he could easily turn what some may call a lucky win into a championship challenge.

RELATED: Mitchell Bruer recently detailed the turnaround for Gallagher 

On the flip side, Reddick will chalk this up to another race in where one decision kept the No. 9 out of victory lane, something that has seemed to be a common theme since his triumph at Daytona International Speedway. But his loss for JR Motorsports isn’t the focus, but rather his teammates’ days. 

Elliott Sadler had once again put himself in a position to win on a restrictor plate track, but a penalty for speeding on pit road had him restarting deep in the field late. The infraction is widely debatable, as he said he only sped to avoid the spinning John Hunter Nemechek. NASCAR has allowed drivers to speed through pit lane previously when avoiding an incident, but supposedly this one didn’t fall under that category. JR Motorsports’ problems did not end there as Justin Allgaier had to make a late-race pit stop after running out of fuel.

However, the team managed to rebound in stellar style, with both drivers charging through the field to score a pair of top-fives, with Sadler taking home the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus for the second straight week in a row. The charge by the pair was certainly fascinating to watch, whether running the high-line three-wide, to dipping down low at the last minute. One more lap with the momentum they had on their side, compared to the others being shaken up, and there may have been a different driver in victory lane. The way they were able to rebound, though, is why they have consistently led the series standings over the past couple of years, including a championship with William Byron in 2017. 

It would’ve also been interesting to see what Daniel Hemric would’ve been able to do if he was in the thick of the action late as he ran up front through the event until a tire issue in the late stages. They say tires aren’t important at restrictor plate tracks, but trying to run on the same right-side rubber all event didn’t pay off.

So far at Talladega Superspeedway, there have been two races – the ARCA Racing Series and the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Even with debate surrounding the rules for ARCA in finishing under green conditions, both events have produced exciting finishes with battles right down to the checkered flag. Hopefully the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series doesn’t disappoint on Sunday. 

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

OBSERVATIONS: My Bariatric Solutions 300 at Texas Motor Speedway

Typically a race on an intermediate track can become boring as we’ve seen so far this year. Normally an event dominated by a single driver makes you want to fall asleep. Ultimately, the My Bariatric Solutions 300 for the NASCAR XFINITY Series was neither of those on Saturday afternoon. 

Right from the beginning, dramatics were in the air with three cautions in the first 17 laps. By having the teams practice in 80 Fahrenheit degree weather, followed by a temperature drop to 35 degrees over night, it’s no secret that teams were probably off on their adjustments. I mean, you had a veteran like Jamie McMurray just lose it off of turn four. When you’ve got conditions like that and having drivers pushed to the envelope to stay straight, you know you’re in for a show.

In the end, Ryan Blaney was dominate – leading 132 of 200 laps en route to earning the third straight victory for Team Penske’s No. 22 car, following the success of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Remember last year when everybody was simply asking the question when would they win again? 

Even though they’ve been fast, the diversity is still felt in the series with speed being shown by Joe Gibbs Racing, JR Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing and Richard Childress Racing in the first six races this year. It should make for a great season of racing. 

But with that said, it’s apparent based on Penske’s XFINITY Series success and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories that Ford certainly has their ducks in a row this year. 

Hendrick Motorsports is known for having some of the strongest motors in NASCAR with high reliability. Justin Allgaier, though, didn’t see that today as his day seen an early end with a trip to the garage following the first stage. It marks the first finish outside of the top-six for the JR Motorsports driver since wrecking in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. 

As a whole, it wasn’t the day that JR Motorsports was looking for, though. Elliott Sadler failed to post a lap in qualifying due to failing technical inspection, but fought back to place eighth. Tyler Reddick ran up in the top-five, but a pair of speeding penalties late relegated him to a 23rd-place finish. Lastly, Michael Annett ranked 15th at day’s end following an early unscheduled trip down pit road.

It should be easy for the group to brush off, though, as they currently hold three of the top-five spots in points and Reddick won the season opener at Daytona.

Ryan Reed turned a lot of heads in the first two stages as he ran in the top-10 solidly, in an aggressive fashion though as he ruffled some feathers along the way. Spencer Gallagher went for a spin at Lap 72 and stated afterwards, “It’s going to hurt when I get back to him.” But what did Reed have to show for a it? A 14th. It’s one thing to run up front, but it’s another to finish the deal. He needs to work at other half. 

Brandon Jones is wishing he would’ve had some better luck, too. He won the second stage after a nice strategy ploy to stay out for the two-lap shootout, but wrecked in the beginning stages of the third stage after restarting mid-pack. Simply put – he got loose, like many others today. After making the move over to Joe Gibbs Racing during the off-season, it kills the early momentum built as it his first finish outside of the top-17 in 2018. 

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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