Contact on a late-race restart, combined with the pressure to lock themselves into the Championship 4, caused two of the top three competitors in the NASCAR Xfinity Series to clash at Kansas Speedway on Saturday.
Battling for the lead on a restart with less than 10 laps to go, Tyler Reddick slid up the track while four-wide with Noah Gragson and Brandon Jones, making slight contact with Cole Custer, causing Custer to bounce off the outside wall. Custer would fall back in the running order as a result, finishing 11th, while Reddick lost out in the battle for the win, placing second to Jones.
Following the completion of the Kansas Lottery 300, Custer approached Reddick to discuss the contact, where crew members from both teams got involved to result in a fight in the middle of pit road.
— NASCAR Xfinity (@NASCAR_Xfinity) October 19, 2019
Custer stated that he approached his fellow title rival due to being frustrated with the contact.
“I just wasn’t very happy with it and was just going to tell him that and he went berserk on me,” he said. “I guess that is part of it. I just wasn’t very happy with it. He just said, ‘Don’t touch me,’ then he started grabbing on me.”
While understanding his rival’s situation, Reddick felt confident in how he handled the situation.
“As soon as he put a hand on me, I put a hand on him back; that’s just how it’s going to be if we’re going to have a conversation that way,” he told NASCAR on NBC. “I’m out of breath, had a little fight there with people, but it was kinda fun.”
The drivers have not had any issues with each other in the past, with the confrontation simply chalked up to being due to “heat of the moment.”
“We’re pissed off,” he added. “I’m sure we’ll talk about it here soon, maybe today, tomorrow, who knows maybe have a beer over it. Obviously didn’t want to get into his quarter panel, but if I lift, I get passed and I hate that it happened to him. We’ll try and move forward, obviously.”
Currently, both drivers are in a comfortable position to transfer to the next round, the Championship 4, in the Xfinity Series playoffs. Although Christopher Bell leads both Custer and Reddick, they both still sit 38 and 37 points above the cut line. To put that into perspective, you earn 10 points for winning a stage and 40 points for a race victory; it would take serious issues both either to have someone knock them out.
Through the Xfinity Series season, these three drivers have been the class of the field and easily were predicted to be part of the Championship 4. Based on the current standings, they would have to see two of the other eight playoff drivers win the next two events to eliminate all three.
It is possible, but highly unlikely given the dominance by The Big Three. However, if they continue to clash with each other, it may result in an upset.
“A couple of us have a lot to lose in this deal and if we take each other out, neither one of us gets to Homestead and I feel we both deserve to be there,” Reddick said.
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