Categories
XFINITY

5 Drivers On The Rise In The XFINITY Series

The first five races are in the books for the XFINITY Series, and so far, it hasn’t been kind to its regulars.

Four of those events have been dominated and won by full-time Monster NASCAR Cup Series drivers. While Tyler Reddick was victorious at Daytona, they led 115 of 143 laps in that race.

Now, it seems the men of NASCAR’s second-tier have struggled in 2018. That’s not the case. Yes, they haven’t been winning races but, there are still regulars finding themselves with impressive starts to the year. Here are a few that have slipped under the radar.

Elliott Sadler

There are only two drivers in any of NASCAR’s top three series that have finished every race in the top-10. Johnny Sauter in the Camping World Truck Series, and Sadler in the XFINITY Series.

The 42-year-old veteran, coming off a season where he was close to his first championship, hasn’t suffered any setback from his disappointment last November. Despite starting in the top-10 once this year, he only finished worse than fifth once, Phoenix (ninth).

As the Dash 4 Cash program starts next month, expect Sadler to remain a contender for wins during the four-race stretch, as he has been on a weekly basis.

Tyler Reddick

Yes, Reddick won the season-opener at Daytona which may make it seem like he’s not an “underrated” type of driver, but his move to JR Motorsports has seen more success than just a win.

After all, taking over the No. 9 is taking over one of the best rides the series has. Look at the fanfare that surrounded Chase Elliott and William Byron after being in the seat (both of whom won the championship in their first year).

Despite having big shoes to fill, Reddick has had the almost perfect transition with the team. He’s second in points, has four top-10’s, and is locked in the playoffs, something no other regular can say right now.

Spencer Gallagher

While GMS Racing has proven to be a dominant force in trucks, the transition up the ladder hasn’t been a smooth one. Last year in their first full-time season, the team had only one top-10 and failed to make the playoffs.It seems 2018, on the other hand, has gotten off on a much better foot.

With Gallagher returning as the driver, GMS already has two top-10’s, and, has zero starts or finishes outside the top-15. Solid runs put together early in the season could prove to be vital later, as they look to be a part of the title hunt.

Kaz Grala

In a move not a lot of people expected during silly season, Grala left the truck series after one successful season with the eventual championship winning organization, GMS, to move a lesser-funded XFINITY Series team in JGL Racing.

To his credit, he’s made the move work. Sure, he may not be winning races as he did a season ago, but he is making the most of the opportunity given to him. He started off the year with a fourth-place finish at Daytona, and since captured three top-20 finishes, including a 12th at Phoenix and a 14th last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

So far, Grala is showing that his past success wasn’t a fluke, and the talent is there, which is essential for a young driver like him to do to make a name for himself.

Ross Chastain

In the past two seasons, an underdog team has made the XFINITY Series’ playoffs. 2016, it was Ryan Sieg, in 2017, Jeremy Clements; could 2018 be Chastain and JD Motorsports?

It is possible with the way they have performed early, as Chastain has already equaled his 2017 total in top-10’s (two) and hasn’t finished outside the top-20. However, the most prominent sign of improvement came at Fontana.

The team qualified well, ran near the front during the entire race, and finished tenth. A day that isn’t typically associated with Chastain unless if at restrictor plate track.

If the No. 4 can continue to have days like this, they will be a playoff 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.

Categories
XFINITY

Tyler Reddick Finding Comfort at JR Motorsports

Anytime you have a driver starting off a new tenure with a big team, it creates a lot of buzz and attention. Tyler Reddick‘s debut with JR Motorsports was no different at Daytona International Speedway in February – but he kicked it up a notch with a visit to victory lane.

Since then, though, things haven’t gone as smooth as planned. Reddick is currently sitting second in the NASCAR XFINITY Series standings, but hasn’t finished as well as he feels he should have, calling it a “train wreck” from his perspective. 

He ran in the top-five at Atlanta Motor Speedway, until a flat tire in the late stages – resulting in a 19th-place finish. He feels they should’ve gotten another top-five at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but mistakes on pit road relegated him back to eighth at the checkered flag. The ISM Raceway weekend did not go as planned, wrecking in qualifying which forced the team to pull out the backup car; they fought back for a 10th-place finish. 

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes this first couple of races,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “Thank goodness we have the win to use when the time comes because I’m certainly digging a hole for myself. But I like at the points, and we’re second, so I guess we’re not doing that horrible. But, it feels like I am dropping the ball a lot and I’m making mistakes.

“We have the win to fall back on, and I’m new to them, they’re new to me, and we’re just trying to figure each other out as best we can as quick as we can, and this is just a part of learning each other and being a new team. So we’ll figure it out soon, and it’s going to start to show once we get everything together.”

The adjustment period has also been about getting to know his JR Motorsports teammates with Michael Annett, Justin Allgaier, and Elliott Sadler. For Reddick, it’s a unique situation as both teams previously, he only had a single driver to lean on each weekend.  Now with the expansion, he says it’s helped a lot. 

“Elliott Sadler is obviously the veteran of the group, and a lot of these tracks have a lot of unique characteristics to them,” he said. “You can really go to Elliott, and talk to him about things that some of the other guys understand, but Elliott has been racing almost as long as I’ve been alive, so he has a really good understanding for it,” he said. “Then I go to Justin for a lot of small tips and stuff, and get an opinion which is closer to what mine would be in where I came from. Then Michael – he’s always trying to get better, and he’s working through a lot of stuff with his team to find speed, and they came on pretty strong at the end of the year. As I said, the year hasn’t started off very well for them, but they’re not far off from finding what they need.

“It’s just nice to have three teammates to talk to and discuss things with. With your teammates, you don’t feel bad like you’re giving away speed secrets, so it’s nice to have that many people to talk to and have a huge notebook for each race track.”

This past Saturday at Auto Club Speedway indeed began to show signs of that as he put together a solid race from start to finish, scoring a seventh-place finish. However, both he and the team recognize that there’s room to grow and things that they can be doing better.

Thankfully, they don’t have to worry about the struggles much as a result of that win at Daytona locking them into the playoffs.

“It just took a lot of pressure off everybody,” he said of the victory. “We want to be doing good, but we can kind of pull of the reigns back a little bit. There’s no need to push the issue with everything too crazy at these race tracks coming up pretty much until the playoffs start. We can just work on some stuff, work out some things that we normally wouldn’t be able to work on at the track for the rest of our guys that are still trying to make sure they have a spot in the playoffs.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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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: Powershares QQQ 300

The fans may have been treated to the closest finish in NASCAR XFINITY Series history with Tyler Reddick edging out Elliott Sadler in the Powershares QQQ 300, but it didn’t come without controversy or endless overtime attempts.

Although there have been concerns about a lack of competitiveness at times in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drafting package, those were unheard of in regards to the XFINITY drivers. From the drop of the green flag to the checkered, the competitors ran side-by-side for position. It was risky at times, with some of the blocks at the front of the field to keep the lead by the likes of Joey Logano and Kyle Larson, but everybody managed to escape trouble until the final laps.

Two of the drivers who had put themselves in position to challenge for the win in the late stages were JR Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Sadler, running up to second and third. But a push from Sadler, locking bumpers with the rear of Elliott’s No. 88 Chevrolet, resulted in a penalty from NASCAR for both. As in previous years, drivers may bump draft each other, but they cannot lock bumpers.

It’s one thing to penalize the driver who enables the push – Sadler in this case – as they are making the choice to plant themselves against their fellow competitor, knowing the risk of being penalized is out there. But, is it fair to penalize the driver getting pushed?

It goes without saying that Elliott gains an advantage from receiving the push from Sadler, but was it his choice to be pushed? He gets no say in the matter, as he can’t stop that person from doing what they’re doing. Now, there is a possibility that Elliott could break the draft, but we know the trouble that would cause instead. 

Since NASCAR implemented this rule, it has caused controversy at every turn, whether both drivers should be penalized, and whether it is always implemented. If you re-watch the end of the race, you can see that Ryan Reed was locked on Reddick’s bumper pushing him to the win. So where’s the penalty there, if the sanctioning body wants to be fair across the board?

“I’ve got a misunderstanding of the rule, so I’m sure they’ll explain it to me,” Sadler commented post-race. “I’ll get a phone call Monday, and they’ll explain to me what their interpretation of the rule is and what my interpretation of the rule is. 

“I thought you couldn’t lock bumpers to gain a position. That’s what I thought. I thought that’s what they’ve always said. So obviously now it’s not that, which you can black flag every single car in the field because, I mean, I tandem ‑‑ out of the 143 laps, 90 laps we were tandem‑‑ not the whole way around, but either down the frontstretch or down the backstretch or whatever. I’ve got to get an interpretation of what the rule really means.” 

Races mired by controversy stir the ire of the fans, taking away from the action that happened. The finish won’t be remembered in the weeks to come, but rather a penalty with 25 laps to go before the drama at the end. Is that what the sport wants when it seems like a pointless rule? 

Drafting on the restrictor plate tracks is supposed to be about who can make the most of the draft, the tools available of them, and making the moves that they can within their toolbox. It’s time that NASCAR takes themselves out of the box and lets the drivers play.

This wasn’t the only rule that came up in the discussion of this event, though, as the yellow line came back up as it did in the Advance Auto Parts Clash last Sunday.

With 21 laps to go, Reed pushed Ryan Truex down below yellow line, causing a wreck in turns three and four when Truex came back up onto the surface. NASCAR penalized Reed for forcing Truex, sending Reed to the back of the field for the restart.

The yellow line was brought into the rulebook to stop drivers from trying to get runs on the apron down the back, causing them to get a poor entry into turn three and cause a big wreck. However, through the years, it has become questionable whether drivers chose to go down, or were forced, at times. 

It’s no question reviewing the replays that Reed pushed Truex below the line entering the corner. However, Reed still feels he was unfairly punished, stating that he was just trying to save his car.

“I guess I forced the‑‑ I got loose and the 11 had to avoid me, so I forced him below the yellow line,” Reed said post-race.

So, is it fair to penalize a driver who is simply trying to save their car? Another angle to think about. 

But even with these concerns, it goes without saying that the XFINITY Series put together the best race of Speedweeks so far, even if it took multiple overtime attempts and chaos to get there. 

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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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 Inches Past Elliott Sadler for Five-Overtime NASCAR XFINITY win

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In a day race that ended under the lights, with the closest margin of victory in NASCAR history, Tyler Reddick finished Saturday’s PowerShares QQQ 300 less than three inches ahead of JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler.

In the last of five overtimes, after a stoppage of 5 minutes, 27 seconds, and on the 23rd extra lap, Reddick made a move to the outside off Turn 4 and won a drag race with Sadler to the stripe after their cars bumped side-to-side coming to the finish line.

The margin of victory was listed officially as .000 seconds because NASCAR timing and scoring doesn’t measure beyond thousandths of a second.

Reddick restarted in the lead on Lap 142, after Dylan Lupton cut a tire and nosed hard into the backstretch wall to cause the record 12th caution of the event. Sadler got a run to the inside on the final lap and edged ahead of Reddick, who regained the advantage just before the flag stand.

“This feels amazing,” said Reddick, who picked up his second NASCAR Xfinity Series victory in his first start since joining JRM. “This is a hell of a way to start the year off with JR Motorsports.

“Ryan Reed and Ryan Truex, those guys were giving me good pushes as I was really struggling on some of those restarts to get going. I was holding back there on the last restart and (Reed) gave me one last really good push to get back up to Elliott.

“I don’t even know how close it was at the line, but it was real close.”

With the victory, the 22-year-old Reddick is all but assured of earning a spot in the NASCAR Xfinity postseason Playoff.

Sadler’s spin on the backstretch on Lap 118 of a scheduled 120, after contact from JR Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, brought out the eighth caution and started the sequence of events that saw the season opener extended through five overtimes.

Though Sadler was disappointed with the runner-up finish, it could have been much worse. The driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet spun twice a drew a black flag for locking bumpers with teammate Chase Elliott and pushing Elliott down the backstretch. Elliott also was penalized as the recipient of the push.

“Congratulations to him (Reddick),” Sadler said. “He’s my teammate, so it’s great on one hand to have a JR Motorsports car in Victory Lane, but it’s definitely tough to finish second. I think that’s three seconds in a row for me on superspeedway races, so we’ve got to figure out how to be leading one of these things.

“We had a pretty wild day. We spun out twice, got black flagged for something–I’m not real sure what yet. I think I was running 32nd on the first green-white-checkered attempt, and we had a chance to win the race. So perseverance and never give up and just kind of stay after it. That’s the kind of motto of my race team, and it kind of showed again today.

The 18-car backstretch wreck on Lap 122 that ended the first overtime eliminated a handful of cars that had run up front all day. The Chevy of Kyle Larson and the Ford of Joey Logano, who combined to lead 89 of the first 121 laps, both were casualties, as was Justin Allgaier, one of the favorites for the series championship.

That was just the beginning of the overtime chaos. Third-place finisher Ryan Reed, winner of this race in 2015 and 2017, had the lead for the second overtime restart on Lap 130, but Spencer Gallagher spun off the bumper of Ross Chastain to end the attempt.

Ryan Truex inherited the top spot for the third overtime attempt, but surrendered the lead to Reddick, who came within 100 feet of the white flag (and an official race) before the 11th caution forced another try.

The fourth attempt was cut short when Lupton slammed the backstretch wall.

Behind Reddick, Sadler and Reed, Kaz Grala rolled home in fourth place, followed by Garrett Smithley, who recorded a career-best fifth. Gallagher, Truex, Daniel Suarez, Chastain and Brandon Jones completed the top 10.

Categories
Trucks

A Look Back at Brad Keselowski Racing’s Success

It seemed only fitting that Brad Keselowski Racing would complete their tenure in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in victory lane. After all, the team was very successful through the years.

Starting off with humble beginning in 2008, the organization quickly grew over the next couple of years, scoring their first win in 2012 with Ryan Blaney at Iowa Speedway. From there on, they were able to score another 10 victories with six different drivers. While they never won a championship, they did come close as from 2012 to this past season, they placed a truck in the top-six of the year-end standings, including a pair of runner-ups courtesy of Blaney and Tyler Reddick

Brad Keselowski has expressed the want to get back involved on the ownership side down the road. But as this door closes, here is a look back at those 11 victories.

2012 American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway – Ryan Blaney

Leading a total of 50 laps, Blaney drove away from the field on a late-race restart with three laps to go to score the first ever victory for Brad Keselowski Racing. It also marked Blaney’s first career win in the truck series in just his third start.

2013 Pocono Mountains 125 at Pocono Raceway – Ryan Blaney

Just like he did in his first career win, Blaney drove away from the field late in the event to score his and BKR’s second victory.

John Harrelson | NKP

2014 UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway – Brad Keselowski

The boss got to pilot one of his own trucks to victory lane in dominating fashion, leading 119 of the 200 laps en route to the win.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park – Ryan Blaney

In an epic duo with German Quiroga, Blaney would edge him out by a bumper at the finish line for the victory after leading 34 of the 64 laps.

Matthew Thacker | NKP

2015 NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway – Tyler Reddick

After running 16 of the 22 events in 2014, Tyler Reddick was set to run his first full season of truck series competition in 2015, ready to chase after a championship for BKR. He began the year in the biggest way possible, pacing 46 laps en route to scoring the victory in the season opener at Daytona.

Nigel Kinrade | NKP

2015 Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway – Joey Logano

Already having made a name for himself in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Joey Logano would run a couple truck races each year for his Team Penske teammate Keselowski. This opportunity behind the wheel went well, as he dominated by leading 150 of the 258 laps.

2015 Lucas Oil 250 at Dover International Speedway – Tyler Reddick

With a late-race pass on Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick took the lead and drove away en route to his second career series victory.

John Harrelson | NKP

2015 UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway – Ryan Blaney

The 2015 season proved to be the most successful for BKR in the win column, as four of their 11 victories came over the course of that year. Blaney captured the fourth, leading 40 of the 202 laps at Bristol.

Russell Labonty | NKP

2016 DC Solar 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Tyler Reddick

Brad Keselowski Racing always seemed to be strong at the intermediates, and that showed at Las Vegas when Reddick led 70 of the 146 laps en route to victory.

2017 Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park – Austin Cindric

In a pass that was debated for multiple weeks, Austin Cindric spun Kaz Grala in turn five, leading the rest of the way to score the victory.

Barry Cantrell | Harrelson Photography Inc.

2017 Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway – Chase Briscoe

While the focus was on the battle for the championship, Briscoe led 81 of the 134 laps en route to a dominating first career truck series victory.

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

Strong First Round Places Poole in Championship Conversation

CONCORD, N.C. – Brennan Poole didn’t enter the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs among the title favorites, but that quickly changed after the Round of 12.

A fifth-place finish in Saturday’s Drive for the Cure 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway marked the Chip Ganassi Racing drivers’ third consecutive top-five to begin the post-season. 

He also placed highest among championship contenders in two of three races including on Saturday night, showcasing what he could be capable of in the remaining Playoff races.

“I’m just proud of the effort,” Poole told POPULAR SPEED. “I’m proud of the fast race cars that we’re bringing to the race track.” 

After only capturing one top-five in the regular season, clicking off three consecutive shows increased speed out of the No. 48 team.

Not only did Poole finish well on Saturday but he rebounded after receiving damage early in the race, attesting to the team’s resilience that could play into their title chances.  

“Tonight we had to battle through a lot of adversity,” Poole told POPULAR SPEED. “The car’s torn to pieces but the guys did some great jobs repairing on it. We just never gave up, and we fought through it.”

The 26-year-old now resets sixth on the Playoff Grid to begin the Round of 8, 20 points behind leader William Byron and three behind Daniel Hemric in the final spot that advances to the season finale.

Poole’s confidence is high heading into the next set of tracks as he looks to make up the difference.

“Kansas has been a great race track for me,” Poole told POPULAR SPEED. “Of course Texas I’m excited to go to. Not only is it my home state but also being very similar to Kentucky where we were so strong at the first race. And ending up at Phoenix, a place where I have several top-10’s and just looking forward to getting into this next round and taking care of business.”

Stage racing has been a difference maker throughout 2017, and the most significant impact may come as the field is narrowed from eight to four cars in this round.

“It’s just going to come down to stage points,” Poole told POPULAR SPEED. “The field is so tight. Tonight we got caught up in an incident that kept us from getting stage points. We’re just going to have to have a little bit of luck, a little bit of things go our way since the field is so tight.”

With Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 team winning two of the first three Playoff races with Tyler Reddick at Kentucky and Alex Bowman at Charlotte, the organization’s second entry is now seemingly on the verge of victory.

“I feel like we’re more than capable of even winning a race in these next three races, we’ve been so good here recently,” Poole told POPULAR SPEED.  

A strong first round delivered Poole some of his best career results and allowed him to show that he’s capable of competing for the championship.

Now it will again be about rising to the occasion in the Round of 12 and placing his team in the Championship 4 where Poole believes that he could hoist the trophy at Homestead-Miami.

“I really believe that this team has what it takes to win it all,” Poole told POPULAR SPEED.

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EMAIL JASON AT jason.schultz@popularspeed.com

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

Tyler Reddick Earns First Career Win in XFINITY Series Playoffs Opener at Kentucky Speedway

SPARTA, Ky. – Running a partial NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule this season, Tyler Reddick spoiled the party for the opening round of the Playoffs by earning his first career win in Saturday night’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver took control of the lead 74 laps from the finish and never looked back. His 14.540-second margin of victory over teammate Brennan Poole was the largest in the series’ history at the 1.5-mile speedway in 16 years of competition.

“I don’t know if it was necessarily me making a statement, it was just Chip Ganassi Racing making a statement,” said Reddick, who earned the triumph in his 15th XFINITY Series start. “Me and Brennan (Poole) were really fast all night.

“We had a really fast car last weekend, our mile-and-a-half program has been unreal. Mike Shiplett (crew chief) brought me from ground zero all the way to here. All the guys at Ganassi have gone above and beyond in helping me become a better driver.”

Reddick who hadn’t led a lap in his previous 14 races this season, but led a race-high 66 laps Saturday night added, “To be here today is surreal. We had such a really fast car the last time we were here, to be able to bring it to Victory Lane, I knew the car was capable.”

Poole earned a career-best finish behind Reddick, giving Chip Ganassi Racing its first 1-2 finish in XFINITY Series competition.

Poole was also the highest-finishing playoff XFINITY Series Playoffs driver in the Round of 12.

“I just think it was a strong statement tonight,” said Poole, who earned his second top-five of 2017. “I’m proud of our Ganassi team coming up one-two. This is really a track that we have struggled at in the past. To come out and be strong in the first race of the playoffs is pretty awesome.

“I want to thank everyone who has put effort into this thing. It’s really showed off the past couple of months. We’ve been really consistent and been right there. A win’s coming for us.”

Playoff driver Justin Allgaier rebounded from a flat tire inside the event’s opening 25 laps and utilized a gutsy wave around call and the beneficiary of a Lap 75 free pass to bolt from a race-low 36th to finish third, his eighth top-five of 2017.

“My team at JR Motorsports obviously does a great job,” said Allgaier who is tied for the XFINITY Series points lead with Cole Custer. “We talked about not beating ourselves in the first Playoff race. It was unfortunate there getting a flat tire. It wasn’t in our control. We did what we had to do and persevered through it and we did a great job on pit calls and pit stops.

“I thought we had a car that maybe could win the race. After the race, I told my team we might not have won the playoffs tonight but we definitely salvaged what we needed to tonight to move ourselves forward.”

NASCAR Next alumnus Kyle Benjamin in his fifth start of the season led the field to green after earning his second-career pole, until Stewart-Haas Racing’s Custer muscled his way to the lead on Lap 42 and clinched his first career stage win.

With a two-tire strategy, Benjamin returned to the point to start Stage 2, but Custer soared back to the lead by the exit of Turn 2 on Lap 52 and dominated the stage to earn another 10 crucial stage points toward his playoff total.

Defending race winner Elliott Sadler elected to stay out at the end of Stage 2 and led the field back to green for the start of Stage 3 until Iowa XFINITY winner Ryan Preece on a similar strategy throttled to the lead on Lap 105 passing Sadler off Turn 2.

Reddick, with fresher tires, reeled in Preece for control of the race and made the pass on Lap 126. He checked out from the field until he pitted with 49 laps to go for his final pit stop of the night.

Reddick cycled back into the lead 10 laps later, pulling away from the competition and ultimately setting the tone for the finish.

Notes: Following the opening round at Kentucky, playoff drivers Jeremy Clements, Michael Annett, Blake Koch and Brennan Gaughan find themselves below the cutoff line for the Round of 8. William Byron suffered a loose wheel late in the race, leaving little time to recover, finishing 18th. Still, he remains fifth in the playoffs standings with benefit from the stage points he acquired during the 2017 season.

Categories
XFINITY

Tyler Reddick Joins JR Motorsports

The 2018 NASCAR XFINITY Series driver line-up at JR Motorsports is set as the organization announced on Thursday that they have signed Tyler Reddick to a multi-year agreement.

“Tyler is a very talented racecar driver and someone we’ve enjoyed watching over the years,” said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JR Motorsports.  “We’ve seen him make a lot of strides in the short time he’s been in the Xfinity Series. He’s a strong complement to our driver lineup next season, and we’re confident that with consistent seat time he’ll find additional success at this level.”

The 21-year-old made waves in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, placing second in the 2015 standings. He spent this past year competing part-time in the XFINITY Series for Chip Ganassi Racing, scoring one top-five and three top-10’s in 14 races.

“This is an amazing opportunity for me,” Reddick said. “Having the chance to race full-time with an organization like JR Motorsports is something I’ve worked toward my entire life. It’s a thrill to be joining such an accomplished group of teammates in going after a championship next year.”

Reddick will replace William Byron, as Byron moves up to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with Hendrick Motorsports next season. The rest of JR Motorsports’ current line-up – Justin Allgaier, Michael Annett, Elliott Sadler – will remain in tact for 2018.

Specific details surrounding sponsors, crew chief and car number for Reddick will be revealed at a later date. 

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
Trucks

BKR Rookies Rebound with Solid Finishes

Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric entered Toyota Tundra 250 at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway oval in hopes of a strong run after finishing the last two races outside the top-10.

On Friday night, they each started outside the top-10 but made their presence known quickly.

Briscoe began his charge at the drop of the green flag, but it wasn’t without incident. On Lap 11, he got loose while three-wide with Grant Enfinger and Kaz Grala, causing Enfinger to spin him around off turn two while Grala got away unscathed. With no damage for Briscoe, he was able to continue, working his way through the field to finish fifth.

“I feel like we had a good balance all night long,” Briscoe said. “The first run we were a little loose and got into Enfinger there. We were really in trouble if we weren’t up front in clean air. (We) struggled a little bit in (the) dirty air, but figured we could have probably finished second but got into the wall a little bit and into a lap car. Overall, a good day for the Cooper Standard F150.”

It took longer for Cindric to crack the top-10, but he worked his way up to seventh in the final stage. He’d fall back in the final stretch of laps to place 10th for his best-career finish in 10 Camping World Truck Series starts.

With both trucks running well, it gives them momentum entering Charlotte Motor Speedway after a successful test earlier this month. They both also ran good earlier this season at Atlanta, a fellow intermediate track, despite the box score, running in the top-10 till a pit road penalty for Cindric and a flat tire for Briscoe.

Historically, Brad Keselowski Racing has run well in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 posting four top-fives in the past three races with their pair of trucks.

Last season, a fourth-place finish for Tyler Reddick kicked off a string of three top-fives over the next five races, putting himself in contention to qualify for the Chase. With Briscoe currently sitting fourth in points and Cindric 15th, a string of solid finishes through the summer will be critical for success this season.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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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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THREE TAKEAWAYS: My Bariatric Solutions 300

Erik Jones won Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, marking the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookie’s first victory of 2017.     

Slippery Slope for Texas Repave

The biggest story entering the weekend was the newly configured track surface. The XFINITY Series event was the first race on the new pavement, and a few drivers experienced trouble on the less-banked and wider Turns 1 and 2.

On Lap 12, Daniel Hemric spun in Turn 2 and backed his No. 21 Chevrolet into the outside wall while running second. The Richard Childress Racing rookie suffered damage, which relegated him to finish 32nd.

Darrell Wallace Jr. and Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Tyler Reddick and Brennan Poole wrecked in the same vicinity. Wallace was lucky enough to overcome his spin, but both CGR racers finished outside the top-30.

With seven to go in Stage 2, Garrett Smithley spun on the exit of Turn 2 but avoided contact with the wall. The second-year JD Motorsports wheelman finished 30th.

Sixth Again for No. 6

Wallace’s streak of sixth-place finishes lives on.

After being clipped by Reddick on Lap 66, Wallace spun and it looked like the streak would end. But he rebounded to finish sixth for a fifth consecutive race. He’s now fourth in the standings, still searching for his first XFINITY win.

Stewart-Haas strong

Stewart-Haas Racing entered 2017 as the newest Cup-affiliate team running in NASCAR’s second-tier level. So far, so good as both entries finished in the top-five at the 1.5-mile track.

Rookie Cole Custer finished fifth, giving the No. 00 driver his first top-five of the season and second of his career. SHR teammate Kevin Harvick finished third after qualifying 14th in the part-time No. 41. Having race laps logged on the new surface could be advantageous to the 2014 Cup champion. He starts Sunday’s 500-mile event from the pole.

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @The5thJohnHav

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