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.
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
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.