LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — Tyler Reddick takes the fuel mileage gamble at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to edge out the dominant Christopher Bell and wins the Rhino Pro Truck Outfitters 300 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
“That was nerve-wracking to say the least,” Reddick told NBCSN. “Those last three laps, I was losing fuel pressure.”
The bold call took place during the final caution when C.J. McLaughlin crashed into the Turn 4 wall. Most of the leaders stayed out, but Reddick came to pit road to begin what would be the race-winning fuel mileage strategy. The Richard Childress Racing team recognized they didn’t have the speed to catch or pass Bell, so they played the long game and had the dice roll in their favor over the next 105 miles.
“We came in for fuel and tires and had to save a lot,” Reddick said after a sigh of relief crossing the line under power. ”It allowed us to run some really, really fast laps there before we had on tires at the end to keep us out front. Our car was fast on the long run and that’s what we needed to get a buffer at the end.
“We’ve had a really, really fast car here in the past. Today we didn’t have it but we got them on strategy again.”
Reddick clinched the regular season championship part way through Stage 2 as other cars retired from the race. However with the postseason reset, Bell will take over the points lead by 11 points, leaving Reddick and pole sitter Cole Custer tied for second.
“We ain’t done yet. We got to go to Homestead and get another trophy,” said Reddick who seemed unphased about losing the points lead after dominating the regular season.
Bell led a race high 154 laps, but fell short by just 0.738 seconds. The gap was over 20 seconds after the final pit stops, but Reddick was able to outsmart and out-luck Bell with his strategy.
“It’s the second time this year that we got beat by circumstances,” Bell told NBCSN. “At Iowa we put on our tires when we needed to and some guys banked on a yellow coming out later and they got it and they beat us. Today those guys did the opposite of us and they won the race. Very, very disappointing.”
Brandon Jones, Custer and Justin Allgaier completed the top five. Las Vegas native Noah Gragson finished sixth. Gray Gaulding also gambled with his fuel and had it pay off to finish in seventh, becoming the first non-Playoff driver in the finishing order. John Hunter Nemecheck, Riley Herbst and Elliott Sadler finished in the top 10 respectively. It was Sadler’s final NASCAR race. Ryan Sieg finished in the 14th position, but was disqualified after post-race inspection found his No. 39 Lombar Bros. Gaming Chevrolet Camaro too low in both the right front and left front. He still has enough points to carry him into the postseason.
Bell Shows Strength Early in Stage One
As the series’ final regular season race, the points gap was larger than the other two national touring series. For those outside of the top 12, they were all too far back to point their way in, so only a win could sneak their way into the Playoffs.
Custer started on pole, but was beat on the first lap by Bell. Custer quickly fell back to third as Justin Allgaier made his way around for the second position. Las Vegas native Gragson spun earlier in qualifying and was forced to start at the rear of the field. He quickly climbed through the field and cracked the top 15 halfway through the stage. Sadler, who was making his final NASCAR start, began the day from the eighth position and ran in the top 10 most of the stage before fading back to the 15th position.
Bell went on the lead all the laps and win the first stage. Sadler was the first car one lap down. Landon Cassell, after a fantastic qualifying run for the ninth starting position, fell out of the race early after overheating issues.
The field came down pit road for service, but Austin Cindric’s crew was penalized for an uncontrolled tire. He came off pit road fourth and was forced to the rear of the field.
Dominance by Bell Was Outplayed by Reddick’s Gamble
Bell took the restart and had a strong challenge by Allgaier before reclaiming the lead. A few cars were declared out of the race due to part failures and mechanical issues, which clinched Reddick as the regular season series champion. He looks to make a run at back-to-back championships in the Xfinity series.
By the end of the stage, Bell led all but two laps up to this point and wins his 15th stage of the regular season.
Drivers began to get more aggressive as they took the green flag for the final stage. Bell continued to dominate, but Allgaier and Custer stayed closer to him. On Lap 110, Tommy Joe Martins spun to bring out the caution. That brought all the leaders to pit road. Cindric had fought his way up to fourth, but with too many crew members over the pit wall and NASCAR penalized him to put him at the tail end of the field.
The field restarted on Lap 115, and Allgaier stayed aggressive. He was able to complete the pass by the exit of Turn 2 and claim the lead, putting Bell into a fight for the second position. Bell stayed patient and was able to reclaim the lead by Lap 123. The caution flew just one lap later as McLaughlin crashed into the outside wall of Turn 4. Most lead lap cars elected to stay on the track, as they could not make it to the end on fuel without coming to pit road again, but Reddick came down pit road for fresh tires and fuel.
When the green flag came out again for what would be the final restart of the race, Bell took over the lead but Briscoe began his late race charge. Halfway through the run, he was able to get by Custer and Allgaier and find himself in the second position. As everyone came down pit road for green flag pit stops, Briscoe speeds on the entrance of pit road, and gets a pass-through penalty.
As the final pit stop cycle completes itself, Reddick elects to stay out to extend his fuel run to the end of the race. He was able to stretch his fuel for 70 laps (105 miles) to the end for his fifth win of the season.
The Playoff field was also set as the regular season concludes. Bell will inherit the points lead, 51 points above the cutoff line. Custer and Reddick will tie for second with a 40 point margin. The rest of the drivers above the cutoff line include Cindric, Briscoe, Allgaier, Michael Annett and Gragson. Jones is the first car in the elimination spot, just one point out of the next round. Justin Haley, Sieg and Nemecheck sit out by two, four and five points respectively.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series compete next at Richmond Raceway on Friday, September 20.
Source: Racing Reference
|Fin||St||#||Driver||Sponsor / Owner||Car||Laps||Status||Led||Pts||PPts|
|1||4||2||Tyler Reddick||Tame the Beast (Richard Childress)||Chevrolet||200||running||30||54||5|
|2||2||20||Christopher Bell||Rheem / Smurfit Kappa (Joe Gibbs)||Toyota||200||running||154||55||2|
|3||6||19||Brandon Jones||Juniper Networks (Joe Gibbs)||Toyota||200||running||0||44||0|
|4||1||00||Cole Custer||Haas Automation (Stewart Haas Racing)||Ford||200||running||0||47||0|
|5||3||7||Justin Allgaier||Brandt (JR Motorsports)||Chevrolet||200||running||15||50||0|
|6||36||9||Noah Gragson||Switch (JR Motorsports)||Chevrolet||200||running||0||31||0|
|7||16||08||Gray Gaulding||JT Marine (Bobby Dotter)||Chevrolet||199||running||0||30||0|
|8||13||23||John Hunter Nemechek||Berry’s Manufacturing (Maury Gallagher)||Chevrolet||199||running||0||35||0|
|9||15||18||Riley Herbst||Monster Energy (Joe Gibbs)||Toyota||199||running||0||0||0|
|10||8||10||Elliott Sadler||Nutrien Ag Solutions (Matthew Kaulig)||Chevrolet||199||running||0||27||0|
|11||7||98||Chase Briscoe||Ford Performance (Fred Biagi)||Ford||199||running||1||36||0|
|12||5||22||Austin Cindric||Money Lion (Roger Penske)||Ford||199||running||0||36||0|
|13||11||1||Michael Annett||Pilot / Flying J (JR Motorsports)||Chevrolet||199||running||0||27||0|
|14||22||8||Ryan Truex||Bar Harbor (JR Motorsports)||Chevrolet||199||running||0||26||0|
|15||10||11||Justin Haley||Leaf Filter Gutter Protection (Matthew Kaulig)||Chevrolet||199||running||0||23||0|
|16||17||86||Brandon Brown||Vero True Social (Jerry Brown)||Chevrolet||198||running||0||21||0|
|17||37||90||Alex Labbe||Martin & Cain Warehousing (Mario Gosselin)||Chevrolet||198||running||0||20||0|
|18||29||36||Josh Williams||Star Brite / Star Tron / Simcraft (Mario Gosselin)||Chevrolet||198||running||0||19||0|
|19||20||07||Ray Black, Jr.||Isokern Fireplaces & Chimneys / Scuba Life (Bobby Dotter)||Chevrolet||197||running||0||18||0|
|20||12||51||Jeremy Clements||RepairableVehicles.com (Jeremy Clements)||Chevrolet||197||running||0||17||0|
|21||23||01||Stephen Leicht||JD Motorsports (Johnny Davis)||Chevrolet||197||running||0||16||0|
|22||21||4||B.J. McLeod||JD Motorsports (Johnny Davis)||Chevrolet||196||running||0||15||0|
|23||26||0||Garrett Smithley||JD Motorsports (Johnny Davis)||Chevrolet||196||running||0||14||0|
|24||24||5||Matt Mills||J.F. Electric (B.J. McLeod)||Chevrolet||195||running||0||13||0|
|25||18||61||Tommy Joe Martins||Diamond Gusset Jeans (Carl Long)||Toyota||194||running||0||12||0|
|26||30||52||David Starr||Circle Track / Franklin’s Signs (Jimmy Means)||Chevrolet||194||running||0||11||0|
|27||38||99||Jairo Avila, Jr.||ART General Contractor (B.J. McLeod)||Toyota||193||running||0||10||0|
|28||28||15||Tyler Matthews||LineTec Services (Johnny Davis)||Chevrolet||191||running||0||9||0|
|29||32||35||Joey Gase||Nevada Donor Network (Carl Long)||Toyota||187||vibration||0||8||0|
|30||34||78||Vinnie Miller||Pit Viper Sunglasses (B.J. McLeod)||Chevrolet||186||running||0||7||0|
|31||31||93||C.J. McLaughlin||Sci Aps (Rod Sieg)||Chevrolet||121||crash||0||6||0|
|32||25||74||Kyle Weatherman||(Mike Harmon)||Chevrolet||66||suspension||0||5||0|
|33||27||17||Joe Nemechek||RWR (Rick Ware)||Chevrolet||56||steering||0||0||0|
|34||33||66||Chad Finchum||LasVegas.net (Carl Long)||Toyota||52||suspension||0||3||0|
|35||35||13||Stan Mullis||LasVegas.net (Carl Long)||Toyota||22||carburetor||0||2||0|
|36||9||89||Landon Cassill||Visone RV (Morgan Shepherd)||Chevrolet||20||overheating||0||1||0|
|37||14||38||J.J. Yeley||RSS Racing (Rod Sieg)||Chevrolet||2||fuel pump||0||1||0|
|38||19||39||Ryan Sieg||Lombar Bros. Gaming (Rod Sieg)||Chevrolet||199||disqualified||0||1||0|