Tyler Reddick wins Xfinity Series championship for back-to-back titles

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Tyler Reddick claimed the 2019 Xfinity Series championship with a victory in Saturday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, successfully defending his 2018 championship.

Reddick led the final 19 laps around the 1.5-mile track after he passed fellow championship driver Cole Custer twice in the same lap.

The win is Reddick’s second consecutive in the season finale and his sixth win of the year.

Reddick is the seventh different Xfinity driver to win back-to-back titles and the ninth to win multiple championships. He’s the first in the series to do it with two different organizations (JR Motorsports, 2018; Richard Childress Racing, 2019).

Reddick will compete full-time for Richard Childress Racing in the Cup Series next year. He moves up with nine Xfinity wins in the last three seasons.

“It’s all about this race team, man,” Reddick told NBCSN. “I’m losing my breath, I’m that excited. This one means so much more. It was just a lot better year. It was really cool to go back-to back.”

Custer was the runner-up – for the second year in a row – after he bounced back from having to pit with 30 laps left in Stage 2 for a loose right-rear tire. He then unlapped himself by passing leader Austin Cindric on the last lap of the stage.

Christopher Bell finished fifth and Justin Allgaier placed 14th after he pit late for a cut tire.

The final 41 laps were eventful and began when Bell missed pit road in the middle of green flag stops while running in third, forcing him to pit the next time by.

“It was just a miscommunication,” Bell said. “I don’t know if my spotter didn’t get told what our cue word was, but I told got the cue word to pit and then all of a sudden, I started pitting and he said, not now, not now.  But that didn’t matter whenever you get beat by 17 seconds. I’m glad that didn’t have an effect on the outcome of the race.”

Reddick and Custer pitted from first and second with 37 laps to go and Custer narrowly was first off pit road.

“It was crazy, when me and Cole were racing there off pit road I was trying everything I can to get into the corner and clear him but it wouldn’t work,” Reddick said. “I was just holding on for dear life. I appreciate him racing as hard as he could. We just went for it and it was aggressive as normal and it paid off for us.”

Very quickly Custer, Reddick and Allgaier were three wide for third place as Bell passed Austin Cindric for the lead.

Custer was the first to catch Bell and then quickly passed him on the inside with 34 laps to go as Reddick overtook Bell on the outside.

By 26 laps to go, Bell was in third, five seconds back from Custer.

Over the next three laps, Reddick and Custer would each scrape the wall as Reddick chased him down.

With 19 laps to go, Reddick dove deep into Turn 1 to get by Custer, who then performed a similar move in Turn 3.

But Reddick easily got by Custer out of Turn 4.

“I just hear(d) this motor just flying by me, and I was just like, ‘Oh, my God, so I’ve got to get off the wall and try and cross him over,'” Custer said of Reddick’s move in Turn 1. “It’s easier to do a slide job easier in (Turns) 1 and 2 than it is 3 and 4, so he probably timed that out and got it figured out, and then I tried to do one in 3 and 4 just out of desperation, but it’s hard to make it work down there.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Chase Briscoe

STAGE 2 WINNER: Austin Cindric

More: Race results, final point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Noah Gragson placed fourth for his ninth top five of the year … John Hunter Nemechek placed sixth. He ends his season with six straight top 10s.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ray Black Jr finished last after his car’s engine expired in dramatic fashion on Lap 5 …. Tyler Matthews finished 37th after his car hit the outside wall hard on Lap 15 … Justin Allgaier’s 14th-place finish snapped his career-best stretch of 16 top 10s.

NOTABLE: Chase Briscoe won Rookie of the Year honors after finishing third … Chevrolet won the manufacturer’s championship … This is the first season that three Xfinity Series regulars  – Christopher Bell (eight wins), Cole Custer (seven) and Tyler Reddick (six) – have won at least six races.

 

March 30 in NASCAR History: Denny Hamlin earns first Martinsville win

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Back in the late 2000s, Martinsville Speedway might as well have been called Johnsonville Speedway.

Entering the March 30, 2008 race there, Jimmie Johnson had won the previous three races on NASCAR’s oldest track and he had four total since 2004.

By spring 2009 he’d bring that total to six, but not before a Virginia native provided a respite from Johnson’s domination.

Denny Hamlin, in his third full-time season Cup, started second on a dreary, misty day in Virginia that saw the race slowed by 18 cautions. Hamlin led 87 laps around the half-mile track, including the final 74.

Johnson wasn’t a factor in the finish, but Hamlin saw another driver with deep Martinsville history in his rear-view mirror. Hamlin had to hold off Jeff Gordon, then a seven-time Martinsville winner, over the final few laps.

“Finally, the curse is over I think, I hope,” Hamlin told Fox. “We had such bad luck over these last few weeks. It finally feels good to come here and get a win in front of the home town fans. Can’t wait. This is a sign of things to come I believe.”

It would turn out to be his only win of 2008, just like 2007. But within two years, Hamlin would have three more Martinsville grandfather clocks.

The race at Martinsville was also the first career Cup start for Michael McDowell, who drove the No. 00 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing.

Also on this date:

1952: Herb Thomas led all 200 laps from the pole to win a Cup race at North Wilkesboro.

1980: A year after winning his first career Cup Series race at Bristol, Dale Earnhardt went back to victory lane at the half-mile track, winning a second straight race following a victory at Atlanta. Richard Petty was scored as finishing eighth in the race, but he was relieved in the event by Richard Childress, according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: The Modern Era.”

2014: Kurt Busch claims a victory at Martinsville Speedway for his first win with Stewart-Haas Racing and his first win since 2011.

Winners and losers from virtual Texas

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WINNERS

Timmy Hill — Underfunded rides have defined his NASCAR career, but he’s among the more successful Cup drivers in iRacing. He showed that Sunday, winning the Pro Invitational Series race at a virtual Texas Motor Speedway.

Garrett Smithley — He and Timmy Hill are the only drivers to score top-five finishes in each of the first two Pro Invitational races. Smithley was third Sunday.

Kurt Busch — His 10th-place finish Sunday was 25 spots better than his last-place finish the race before at a virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Kyle Larson — His ninth-place finish Sunday was 24 spots better than his finish the race before at a virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Jimmie Johnson — He finished 19th Sunday, placing 12 spots better than he did the week before. His performance came a day after he ran in the IndyCar Challenge iRacing race at a virtual Watkins Glen International and finished 16th.

LOSERS

William Byron — Led a race-high 80 of 130 laps before a bump-and-run by Timmy Hill moved Byron up the track and out of the lead in the final laps. Byron went on to finish seventh. Still, it was better than his 34th-place finish the previous race.

Ty Majeski — After placing ninth the race before, he finished 30th Sunday after a speeding pit penalty on pit road.

Xfinity, Truck and regional series drivers — With so many Cup drivers taking guaranteed spots in the main event, it leaves few drivers to transfer from the qualifying race. The first week, six Xfinity, Truck and regional series drivers advanced. Sunday, it was four.

Timmy Hill celebrates win but knows payback could be coming

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Timmy Hill said he had to make the move.

He also knows there could be consequences.

“But that’s in the future,” Hill said. “I’m kind of living in the present and happy to get the win.”

The 27-year-old driver, whose career has been defined by underfunded rides in NASCAR, used a bump-and-run to take the lead from William Byron with nine laps left and win Sunday’s eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series event at a virtual Texas Motor Speedway.

MORE: Race results 

MORE: What drivers said after iRacing race at virtual Texas

After he crossed the finish line first, Hill said his wife came up the stairs in their home to hug him and give him a cup of milk.

“Downed it right away,” Hill said.

But he likely was going to hold off contacting Byron, who finished seventh after leading a race-high 80 laps in the 130-lap event, extended by overtime.

“This is a very unique situation because, trust me, it feels real,” Hill said after the victory. “I’m sure (Byron) is mad. That’s one of the situations where I think if I call him today, he probably really wouldn’t even want to talk about it. I’ve got to probably give him some time to cool down.

“I may try to reach out to him. He’ll probably still be mad probably for the next coming weeks. Even though this is iRacing, it is virtual, the feelings are real.”

On the etiquette of iRacing and if there might be a payback, Byron tweeted “if he’s in front of me you can be sure of it” followed by a winking emoji.

The situation came about after a caution led to a restart with five laps left to the scheduled distance of 125 laps.

With four laps to the scheduled distance, Byron led with Hill on his rear bumper entering Turn 1.

“I didn’t go into it thinking I had to move William,” Hill said. ”I’m sure as everybody watched the race, Texas, with the way this format is, wide open in (Turns) 3 and 4, barely lift in (Turns) 1 and 2, I think you see drivers get in massive runs.

“The car in front has a couple options. You can try to race the guy heads‑up, side‑by‑side, or block all you can. For me, in the time remaining, when William threw a big block to protect his line, I had the option of either get hit from behind, hope I don’t get hit from behind, or give him a little bump and run and keep going.

“My mindset, had to make a quick split‑second decision, was to go for the win. I didn’t want to put myself in a bad spot to get hit from behind or take myself out of it. When William blocked going into Turn 1, kept a low line, protected his position, it left very few options for me in Turn 1. That’s kind of my mindset through it.”

Hill, who has no top-10 finishes in 96 career Cup starts and five top-10 finishes, including a third at Daytona in February, in 188 Xfinity starts, said that he hoped Sunday’s win could help with his underfunded teams when racing returns.

“Some of the best drivers are underrecognized because of the opportunity they’re in,” Hill said. “I’ve made a career personally out of taking cars that were 35th- to 40th-place cars, qualifying 25th. The reason I’ve been able to stay in this sport is because I can take a car and elevate it to a level to make fields, ultimately make a paycheck for teams.

“I wish people would kind of focus back towards that side of the garage, understand the deficits that we’re facing going into a race, because I think a lot of guys are shortchanged, some of their talents. I feel like I’m one of them. I feel like a lot of the guys in the top five (in Sunday’s iRacing race) are in the same boat as I am.

“I’m glad this is kind of showing a little bit of that. I don’t know if it will transfer in real life. I’m glad at least for the last couple weeks and going forward that can kind of showcase that a little bit.”

What drivers said after iRacing race at virtual Texas

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Timmy Hill — Winner: I definitely rank (the win) up there (among career achievements). The reason being is just because the platform is being televised on FOX, having essentially the entire NASCAR audience tuning in. I’ve won a lot of iRacing races. It’s neat to win on there. It’s really neat to win against your competitors that you race each and every Sunday.  … For me personally, what I’ll gain from this is recognition. For us, it’s hard to get that recognition because of the level of competition that we are in real life.  We’re doing our best. Frankly, we just don’t have the money, the dollars, to compete at a high level.  Every once in a while we’ll get a big sponsor and you’ll see us exceed normal expectations for us, like at Daytona where we had a really good Daytona 500 car, really good Xfinity car.  We finished third in the Xfinity race, made the Daytona 500. Every once in a while we’ll get that big payday and we can really reinvest in our race team. But most weekends we got to kind of do the best we can with the dollars we have. This win will hopefully gain some recognition and attract more sponsors for us maybe in the real world when we get back racing because they know Timmy Hill from iRacing.”

Ryan Preece — Finished 2nd:

 

Garrett Smithley — Finished 3rd: 

 

Alex Bowman — Finished 5th:

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Finished 6th:

 

William Byron — Finished 7th:

 

John Hunter Nemechek — Finished 8th:

 

Kurt Busch — Finished 10th:

Clint Bowyer — Finished 11th: “Today was all about survival, guys. I needed a redo for my Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang because I got together with (Greg) Biffle, ‘The Biff’, off of (Turn) two. I guess we were three-wide. I didn’t realize we were three-wide. My spotter Jeff Gordon, I had to fire him halfway through the race and moved to Larry McReynolds. Larry said nothing when we were three-wide and I wrecked and collected a bunch of them. But again, a great time was had by all. Timmy Hill, big win for him and his brand. It’s going to be a lot of fun to compete in this over the next few weeks. But, man we are all in this together! Looking forward to next week.”

Parker Kligerman — Finished 12th:

 

Bobby Labonte — Finished 13th:

 

Michael McDowell — Finished 14th:

 

Kyle Busch — Finished 17th:

Jimmie Johnson — Finished 19th:

Chase Elliott — Finished 20th:

 

Erik Jones — Finished 21st:

 

Bubba Wallace — Finished 25th:

Alex Labbe — Finished 26th:

 

Austin Dillon — Finished 29th:

 

Ty Majeski — Finished 30th:

 

Ruben Garcia Jr. — Finished 31st:

 

Greg Biffle — Finished 32nd:

 

Daniel Suarez — Finished 33rd:

 

Anthony Alfredo — Finished 35th: