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.

 

Greg Zipadelli to serve as Clint Bowyer’s interim crew chief

Greg Zipadelli
Photo by Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images
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Greg Zipadelli, competition director for Stewart-Haas Racing, will serve as the crew chief for Clint Bowyer in Saturday’s Cup race at Michigan International Speedway, the team confirmed Monday.

Johnny Klausmeier will miss Saturday’s race, serving a one-race suspension because Bowyer’s car was found to have two lug nuts not safe and secure after last weekend’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Bowyer enters Saturday’s race at Michigan (4 p.m. ET on NBCSN) 14th on the playoff grid. The top 16 will advance to the playoffs. Six races remain in the regular season.

Klausmeier will be able to resume his role for Sunday’s Cup race (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) at Michigan.

Zipadelli, who won Cup titles in 2002 and 2005 with Tony Stewart, will reprise the interim role he played earlier in the season in the Xfinity Series.

Zipadelli served as Chase Briscoe‘s crew chief for four races after crew chief Richard Boswell, the team’s car chief and an engineer were each suspended four races because ballast fell out of his car. Briscoe won three of the four races with Zipadelli as his crew chief.

Team Penske extends contract with Brad Keselowski

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Team Penske announced Monday that New Hampshire winner Brad Keselowski has agreed to a contract extension. Keselowski’s contract was to expire after this season.

A media release from the team did not state the length of the extension for Keselowski, 36. The Associated Press reported that the deal was for one year through the 2021 season.

Keselowski, who won the 2012 Cup title, has been with Team Penske since 2010, winning 31 Cup and 33 Xfinity races during that time.

“We are pleased that Brad will continue to be a part of our organization,” said Roger Penske in a statement. “Brad not only demonstrates talent and skill on the track, but his leadership away from it and his dedication to our partners have had a huge impact in making our organization one of the best in NASCAR. I am proud that we will be able to able to keep the continuity we have with Brad, Ryan (Blaney) and Joey (Logano) and look forward to competing for more wins and championships together.”

MORE: Winners and losers from New Hampshire

Said Keselowski in a statement: I have been racing for Team Penske for the vast majority of my NASCAR career and to continue to represent Roger Penske, our partners and his organization is exactly where I want to be. We’ve accomplished a lot of things together over the years, including winning both the Cup and Xfinity Championships, the Brickyard 400, the Southern 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. Now, my goal is to win the Daytona 500, another championship and continue to build Team Penske into the best NASCAR team in the garage area.”

Logano is signed to at least 2022. In March, Blaney signed a multiyear extension with Team Penske.

Keselowski’s victory Sunday was his third of the season. He’s scored at least three wins in each of the past five seasons. Keselowski is second  in the points to Kevin Harvick.

GMS Racing, Brett Moffitt to honor Jimmie Johnson with special scheme

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GMS Racing and sponsor Plan B Sales have created a special paint scheme to honor seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson on championship weekend in November at Phoenix Raceway.

Brett Moffitt, the 2018 Truck Series champion, will pilot the the specially adorned truck at Phoenix.

“Brett has been a part of the Plan B family and a great ambassador for our company over the years,” said Brent Powell, owner of Plan B Sales in a statement. “Last year we partnered with Brett and GMS for the Phoenix race, but this year is different with it being the season finale and Jimmie’s final (full-time Cup) weekend. It truly is an honor for us to showcase this throwback for Jimmie and hopefully see Brett clinch his second championship in our truck.”

Said Moffitt of Johnson in a statement: “I have looked up to him, leaned on him and had the utmost respect for everything he has done for our sport. This is the coolest paint scheme I’ve had in my career because of how much respect and admiration I have for Jimmie. I’m rooting for him to go out on top, and maybe we’ll both get the chance to celebrate a championship in Phoenix later this year.”

Johnson has announced this will be his final full-time Cup season. He drove a Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar in a July 28 test on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Johnson has expressed a desire to race different vehicles after this season.

 

Cup playoff grid after New Hampshire

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William Byron holds a 15-point lead on rookie Tyler Reddick for the final playoff spot in the Cup playoff grid after last weekend’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Six races remain in the regular season.

Byron finished 11th at New Hampshire, one spot behind Reddick, but Byron extended his advantage on Reddick by five points. Byron scored six stage points, while Reddick scored none.

MORE: Could New Hampshire be a sign of things to come in Cup?

MORE: Winners and losers from New Hampshire 

Jimmie Johnson fell to 25 points behind Byron for the final spot in the Cup playoff grid. Johnson overcame a spin after contact with Clint Bowyer to run in the top 10 but lost four spots in the final 20 laps to finish 12th.

“Good fight today guys,” Johnson told his team on the radio after the race. “Overcome a lot of (stuff) again.”

The series heads this weekend to Michigan International Speedway for two races. The Cup Series races there at 4 p.m. ET Saturday and at 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday. Both races will be on NBCSN.

Ten of the 16 playoff spots have been secured by drivers who have won at least one race this year: Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Alex Bowman, Austin Dillon and rookie Cole Custer.

Here is a look at the Cup playoff grid. Drivers shaded in green are locked in the playoffs. Drivers shaded in yellow are in a playoff spot based on their point total. Drivers shaded in red are outside a spot in the Cup playoff grid.

 

Cup playoff grid New Hampshire