Austin Cindric

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.

 

Tyler Reddick wins pole for Xfinity Series championship race

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Championship 4 driver Tyler Reddick won the pole for today’s Xfinity Series championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Reddick, the defending series champion, claimed the pole with a speed of 167.069 mph. It is Reddick’s fifth pole of the season.

Reddick will be joined on the front row by fellow championship driver Cole Custer (166.692 mph).

Championship 4 drivers Christopher Bell and Justin Allgaier will start seventh and 16th respectively. This is Allgaier’s worst qualifying effort of the season.

The top five is completed by Austin Cindric, Brandon Jones and Chase Briscoe.

“We made (the car) better (from practice), but I definitely thought I didn’t put together the best lap,” Reddick told NBCSN. “But it just shows these guys work really hard on these race cars this year … We’ve got a pretty good car and I’m really curious to see where it goes after five laps. I don’t really know.”

Click here for the starting order.

Xfinity practice report from Miami

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Championship contender Tyler Reddick led a rain-shortened opening practice for the Xfinity Series Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Reddick paced the field with a lap of 165.674 mph. Four of the top five were title contenders: Christopher Bell was second with a lap of 165.178 mph, Justin Allgaier was fourth at 164.704 mph and Cole Custer was fifth at 163.820 mph. Austin Cindric was the only driver in the top five not racing for a championship. He was third on the speed chart with a lap of 164.815 mph.

Click here for practice results

Allgaier had some drama early in the session.

David Starr and Allgaier made contact after Starr drifted up the track and hit the left side of Allgaier’s car. Allgaier completed only five laps before the incident.

“Just disappointing,” Allgaier told NBCSN. “I’m pretty laid back this weekend. I’ve focused a lot on just going out there and doing our thing and be patient and felt like we were doing that. (Starr) had kind of committed to the bottom. I was going to go to the bottom and then he kind of started moving up. I thought he will still give me plenty of room on corner exit. He ran right into the side of us. Disappointed to tear my car up.”

Final Xfinity practice was canceled by rain Friday. The series races Saturday.

Results, points after Xfinity race at ISM Raceway

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There is now one race remaining in the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series season — and it’s the biggest one yet, as it will determine who the champion will be.

Let’s look back at Saturday’s penultimate race of the Xfinity playoffs and how the results and standings impacted what will take place a week from now in the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

RESULTS:

Justin Allgaier just supersized the so-called “Big Three.”

With his win Saturday at ISM Raceway, Allgaier joins the Xfinity Series’ Big three – Christopher Bell, Cole Custer and defending series champ Tyler Reddick – in next Saturday’s championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

In addition to Allgaier’s win, Custer finished second and Reddick was third in Saturday’s race.

Bell, meanwhile, dominated the first two stages, leading 89 of the first 90 laps, before he was penalized for speeding on pit road, sending him to the back of the lead lap. Then, on Lap 117, Bell suffered a solo spin that brought out the caution. He wound up finishing a distant 16th.

Click here for race results.

POINTS:

As for the reseeded results, the now “Big Four” all head to Miami tied at 4,000 points apiece. They won’t have to worry about stage points in that race. Rather, the game plan is simple: the driver who finishes above the other three will emerge as the champion.

As for the four drivers who failed to advance to the Miami championship-deciding season finale, Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe are both tied for fifth place with 2,252 points apiece, while Michael Annett is eighth (2,210 Points) and Noah Gragson is ninth (2,208 points). Sandwiched in-between in seventh place (2,212 points) is John Hunter Nemechek, while Brandon Jones rounds out the top 10 with 2,173 points).

Click here for updated/reseeded standings.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Justin Allgaier wins, advances to Xfinity championship race

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All season long, Justin Allgaier wanted a win, needed a win – and finally he got the win he coveted in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff race at ISM Raceway.

One season after winning a career-best five races, Allgaier and his No. 7 JR Motorsports team notched their first checkered flag of 2019 and it was huge, moving him into next week’s championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Allgaier led 85 laps and joins Christopher Bell, Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick in the title race.

“It’s just incredible, man,” Allgaier told NBC Sports. “To do what we’ve done all year, to have the speed that we’ve had but not been able to pull it off has been disappointing, but these guys have rallied behind it. We said when we came here that we needed a win to get to Homestead and we got it.

“Not only is it a chance for the championship but to get the momentum from a win. That’s special. The weight on your shoulder, you can’t even begin to describe it.”

Added Reddick, defending Xfinity Series champion: “When I heard we were one lap to the good (on fuel), we figured where we’re at, might as well just be smart. We could win a race or we could run out of gas and not go to Homestead. We didn’t lose sight of what’s important.”

Chase Briscoe, Michael Annett, Austin Cindric and Noah Gragson were eliminated from the playoffs.

“I don’t want this one race or whole round to define who we are,” Briscoe told NBC. “We proved especially the last half of the season we’re capable to being that fourth guy, just didn’t get it done.”

The top 10 finishers in Saturday’s win were Allgaier, Custer, Reddick, John Hunter Nemechek, Zane Smith, Cindric, Justin Haley, Briscoe, Annett and Gragson.

Click here for race results.

Click here for updated/reseeded standings.

Bell looked like he would seal a perfect weekend with a win. He was fastest in both of Friday’s practices and started Saturday’s race from the pole. He dominated the first two stages of Saturday’s race, leading all but one of the first 90 laps.

But Bell, who won this race last fall, was caught speeding on pit road at the end of Stage 2 and was sent to the back. While he started making progress, he spun after a tire went down on Lap 117 of the 200-lap race and finished 16th.

“I don’t think we could have beat the 20 today, but when he made that mistake, we capitalized on it and that’s what it’s all about,” Allgaier said of Bell.

Stage 1 winner: Christopher Bell (21st stage win of season)

Stage 2 winner: Christopher Bell (22nd stage win of season)

Who else had a good race: Give credit to John Hunter Nemechek and Zane Smith for their fourth- and fifth-place runs, respectively.

Who had a bad race: It’s a rarity that Bell has a bad run, but finishing 16th was definitely not the finish he wanted. But two things that were self-inflicted (speeding on pit road and a spin) sealed his bid to cap off what had been up to the end of Stage 2, a perfect weekend.

Notable: At 33, Allgaier has age and experience going for him heading to Miami. His other three rivals are all under 25: Bell is 24, Reddick 23 and Custer 21.

What’s next: The season-ending Xfinity Series championship race takes place next Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Follow @JerryBonkowski