Familiar place, unfamiliar track for Tyler Reddick this weekend


Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway is a home race in name only for Tyler Reddick.

The Richard Childress Racing driver grew up in Corning, California, a little over two hours north of the twisting road course. But he’s never turned a single lap there.

Last year’s Cup race at Sonoma was one of several dates realigned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so Reddick didn’t go there in his rookie campaign.

On Sunday, he and his fellow competitors will race with lower downforce than what the Cup cars had in the last Sonoma race in 2019. Throw in a lack of practice and qualifying sessions, and Reddick will have some learning on the fly to do.

MORE: Sonoma starting lineup – Kyle Larson on pole, Tyler Reddick starts 10th

“Those in our sport that have run there for many years … Yeah, the tires change, but they understand how the characteristics of the track are,” Reddick explained Thursday in a media teleconference. “And they probably have an understanding of, ‘OK, I’ve got to give up this, lap after lap after lap, to be able to sustain well over a long run.’

“Where a guy like me, where I’m coming in, I think I’m going to have to wing that because yeah, I can look at lap times and understand the pace fall-off from years previous; but again, it’s a different layout and downforce package, so it would be really hard to do that.

“I’m going to have to wing it at the beginning of the race, and hopefully, my level of winging it is good enough to be able to improve it throughout the course of the race and getting better by the end.”

But even with a lack of knowledge about the circuit, Reddick says he can’t help but be confident going into Sunday.

It’s not hard to figure out why.

Reddick was 28th in the Cup playoff standings after finishing 26th at Atlanta in March. In the nine races since, he’s rattled off seven top-10 finishes, earned his first career Cup pole, and gained 125 points on the bubble to rise into the 15th playoff position (+61 over 17th-place Matt DiBenedetto).

Through 15 races this season, Reddick already has eight top-10 finishes. He had nine last season and just three at this juncture.

On top of that, Reddick and his No. 8 team can point to their pole and ninth-place result at COTA two weeks ago as proof of progress on the road courses entering Sunday.

However, he still hasn’t come home with a top-five finish since his runner-up at Miami in February.

When asked about what needs to be done to make himself a regular inside that group, Reddick said he must improve on two key fronts: Pit road and restarts.

“(The Coca-Cola 600) was a very challenging one for us (with pit road),” he admitted. “With the nature of that race and the lack of comfort that I had running really close to the maximum speed limit allowed, like Kyle Larson could all night, I was very off in that regard. But I was absolutely terrified, if I’m being honest, of having a speeding penalty and completely derail what could be a very manageable and realistic top-10 day, even with those little crumbs left on the table.

“… The last month or so there’s been, one restart a race I’d say, where I’d choose the wrong lane, anticipating where the car ahead of me is going to go, and it puts us back two or three spots. It really changes the whole direction of the race from that point on.

“It’s just little details, especially in the Cup series. You can’t just be really fast on the race track to win races. All these big teams are really calculated to know how much to push at any point in the race. But for me, it is nice to see how much better we’ve been able to get in about a year’s time. We still have a lot of room to go.”

Texas Truck race results: Carson Hocevar scores first series win

Texas Truck race results
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Carson Hocevar was in front after the leaders crashed in overtime and scored his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway.

MORE: Texas Truck race results

Rookie Nick Sanchez, who led 168 of the 172-lap race, dueled reigning series champion Zane Smith on the last lap when Sanchez’s truck hit Smith’s. As Sanchez tried to regain control of his vehicle, he was hit from behind by Hocevar. That contact sent Sanchez into Smith. Christian Eckes also was collected.

Hocevar’s first win came in his 59th series start.

Chase Purdy placed second. Stewart Friesen finished third. Ty Majeski was fourth. Jake Garcia completed the top five.


Richmond Xfinity results, driver points


RICHMOND, Va. — Chandler Smith won a stage, led a race-high 83 laps and rallied late to score his first career Xfinity win Saturday at Richmond Raceway.

MORE: Richmond Xfinity results

MORE: Xfinity points after Richmond race

John Hunter Nemechek placed second. The rest of the top five featured Josh Berry, Kaz Grala and Cole Custer. Austin Hill, who had won three of the first six races of the season, placed ninth.

Hill continues to lead the points. He has a 12-point advantage on Riley Herbst and an 18-point lead on Nemechek heading into the next series race in two weeks at Martinsville.

Chandler Smith scores first career Xfinity win with Richmond victory


RICHMOND, Va. — Chandler Smith held off John Hunter Nemechek to win his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday at Richmond Raceway.

The 20-year-old Smith took the lead with 12 laps to go and withstood a restart with six laps to go to earn the victory for Kaulig Racing.

MORE: Richmond race results, driver points

His victory came about a month after being passed for the lead with two laps to go at Las Vegas and finishing third day.

“It obviously wasn’t in God’s works for me that and I was fine with that, I was good with that,” said Smith, who will make his Cup debut Sunday. “I knew there was something bigger and better that He was playing it out for me and I just had to be faithful and keep on trucking. Here’s proof of it.”

Nemechek was second. Josh Berry placed third and was followed by Kaz Grala and Cole Custer.

Justin Allgaier finished 13th to win the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

“Today was weird because of how we finished,” Allgaier said. “Given the same circumstances a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, 13th wasn’t going to win the Dash 4 Cash but today it did.”

Stage 1 winner: Chandler Smith

Stage 2 winner: Josh Berry

Who had a good race: A caution caught Justin Allgaier a lap down, ending his chances for a top-five finish but he was able to bounce back and win the Dash 4 Cash for a fifth time. … Derek Kraus finished 10th in his Xfinity debut. … Chris Hacker placed 14th in his Xfinity debut.

Who had a bad race: Riley Herbst had his career-long streak of top-10 finishes snapped after nine races. He placed 23rd after he was hit and spun late in the race.

Notable: This is the second time in the last four races that there has been a first-time series winner. Sammy Smith scored his first series win last month at Phoenix.

Next: The series is off until April 15 at Martinsville Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

Daniel Suarez, Ross Chastain move on from COTA incident


RICHMOND, Va. — Daniel Suarez says he’s been trying to “work on myself” after conflicts with teammate Ross Chastain and Alex Bowman last weekend at COTA but noted that if NASCAR doesn’t make adjustments with restarts on road courses, he’ll change his driving style.

NASCAR fined Suarez $50,000 on Wednesday for hitting another vehicle on pit road after the race. Suarez hit Chastain’s car at pit entrance and hit the back of Bowman’s car while they were both on pit road.

MORE: Cup starting lineup at Richmond 

“I’ve been trying to work on myself mostly during the week, trying to clear my mind and reset,” Suarez said Saturday at Richmond Raceway. “My team, we’re good. I think the issue wasn’t really with one driver. I feel like it’s more as an industry, how we are allowing to have those kind of bump-and-run restarts at the end of the races at road courses.

“I don’t think that’s right.”

Suarez restarted fifth in the second overtime restart. Alex Bowman, with Ross Chastain and Chase Briscoe aligned behind, charged and got beside Suarez as they approached Turn 1.

As Bowman slowed to make the tight turn, he was hit from behind and that sent him into Suarez, who clipped the left rear of Martin Truex Jr.’s car. Truex spun in front of Suarez and blocked his path, allowing the rest of the field to go by. Suarez finished 27th.

Chastain said he and Suarez have moved on from last week’s incident after talking this week.

“Every household on this earth has their moments of arguments and we had ours,” Chastain said Saturday.

“We’re family. We’re in the same house, right. It’s in our name. It’s Trackhouse. No matter what, we all think we have to put that behind and know that moving forward we’re brothers. … We’re brothers at Trackhouse and we’re going to be stronger together.”

Suarez is among the number of drivers who have raised concerns about the rough driving in the series. The Next Gen car is more durable and can take more hits — as evident in the Clash at the Coliseum to start the year when drivers barreled into the back of cars in the corners to slow down.

Add the emphasis of winning, less respect for one another and the result is the type of racing on display at the end of the race at Circuit of the Americas, as drivers charged down a long straightaway before braking hard for a tight turn and making contact with one another.

So, what can be done?

“I don’t have the answers to that,” Suarez said. “All I know is that NASCAR is working toward trying to make a better solution for some of these restarts. It doesn’t look right. This sport looks embarrassing.

“That’s not real. Just go into the corner and bump three cars to push people out of that way, that’s not real. We know that. That’s how some people got top fives and top 10s last week and some of the guys that were fast, like myself, finished 27th.

“If NASCAR does something about it, that’s amazing. If they don’t I’ll just join the party.”