Justin Allgaier

Photo: Jamie McMurray

Trucks to carry decal honoring team owner in Friday’s race at Charlotte

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NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series trucks will carry a commemorative decal in Friday night’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, honoring team owner Mike Mittler, who passed away May 10 at 67 years old following a lengthy battle with cancer.

I’ve always loved racing and got involved in 1968,” Mittler said in a 2011 interview, according to a media release from his team, MB Motorsports. “Through local races I got to know the Wallace family. I worked on the crew that helped Rusty Wallace become the USAC stock car Rookie of the Year and 1983 ASA Champion.

We ran some NASCAR Busch races and did a few Cup events as well. When Rusty moved south, I started helping (younger brother) Kenny Wallace and was with him when he was crowned the 1986 ASA Rookie of the Year.”

While the Wallace brothers – Rusty, Kenny and Mike – all moved south to North Carolina, Mittler remained true to his roots and built both his racing and manufacturing businesses in Wright City, Missouri (about 40 miles west of St. Louis).

Mittler helped several up-and-coming race car drivers in their careers, including former NASCAR Cup champion Brad Keselowski, fellow Missouri natives Carl Edwards and Jamie McMurray, Justin Allgaier, Regan Smith and others.

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Tyler Reddick ‘happy’ with early Xfinity success, Kansas Cup performance

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Things are going well for Tyler Reddick in 2019.

While he hasn’t been flashy about it, the Richard Childress Racing driver leads the Xfinity Series standings almost a third of the way through in his attempt to defend his series championship.

The first 10 races have been a stark contrast to his 2018 campaign, which ended in the championship. Reddick has a series-leading eight top fives, two more than Christopher Bell. Last year, when Reddick had just seven top fives all season, he didn’t earn his second until race No. 10 at Dover.

The only similarity to last year is his lone win has come at a superspeedway (Talladega).

“I wouldn’t say I expected it to be quite as smooth sailing as it has been,” Reddick told NBC Sports while in Philadelphia for a Xfinity Series promotion. “But I knew we had the capability of being as fast as we have been. For us to have the two bad races I would say, possibly three if you count Richmond, and still be running like we are and be where we are in points and all those things. It’s been pretty crazy honestly.

“I wish we had a win or two more along the way. To have a win, to be locked in and leading the points overall and have an average finish of (4.7) right now is pretty good so far for the first bit of the year. I’m happy.”

Reddick didn’t stay still during the first of two straight off weeks for the Xfinity Series.

He made his second career Cup Series start last weekend at Kansas Speedway, again driving RCR’s No. 31 Chevrolet.

After qualifying 30th in a car set up for the race, Reddick started 21st because many of the 11 cars that failed inspection and lost their starting spot were in front of him.

“The leaders could get away from us pretty early and we wouldn’t be able to match their lap times until about 25 laps into a run,” Reddick said. “So it kind of put us in a bad spot there. Throughout the race at times we could stay in the top 15, kind of linger right there.”

The team got a boost when a caution came out in the middle of green flag stops on Lap 219, leaving Reddick and six other drivers on the lead lap.

That allowed Reddick to restart in the top 10, where he’d stay the remainder of the race, running as high as the top five before settling for ninth.

“I think we still could have had a shot at running top 10 without that (caution),” Reddick said. “To ultimately get in the spot where we were and almost get to third place, fourth place after one of those restarts. It was a really good feeling. I was ashamed the next restart I threw it all away, just had a mistake and lost it. To still finish ninth after the issues we had on the restart and to bounce back from that, that was really cool.”

Reddick will return to Kansas in the Xfinity Series in October during the playoffs. But due to the Cup Series rules package, Reddick says nothing he experienced Saturday will translate back to his full-time ride.

“They couldn’t be any more different right now than they are at this moment,” Reddick said. “Everything that you know and teach yourself in Xfinity you pretty much have to throw it all away and disregard it when you step into a Cup car.

Reddick added, “It’s quite unreal to be honest with you how much different they are.”

The next three Xfinity races see the series visiting Charlotte Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Michigan International Speedway.

After his stellar start, Reddick isn’t too enthusiastic about the next stretch.

“Those are all really bad tracks for me,” Reddick said. “I’ve never ran Pocono with what the Xfinity cars are now. We ran the drag duct race there (in 2018 and finished ninth). My first time there at Michigan was with Chip Ganassi Racing (in 2017 and finished 13th). We had good speed but I just wasn’t quite comfortable in race cars yet, especially at a 2-mile race track. …

“Charlotte’s a place I’ve had a lot of rough luck at (finishes of 10th and 23rd). I don’t even think of Charlotte as a mile-and-a-half, but it is. Hopefully, I was hearing it was going to be 94 degrees. I’m hoping it’s really, really hot and really, really slick. It might work out OK for us. So I’d say Charlotte is the one I’m looking to the most.”

Through 10 races Reddick’s main competition in defending his title would appear to be Bell and Cole Custer, who have three wins and two wins respectively.

But Reddick is keeping his head up when it comes to one other driver.

“Definitely as we get into the summer stretch you can’t forget about Justin Allgaier,” Reddick cautioned. “He’ll run really good at the short tracks. He’ll be really good at the road courses. You can’t ever forget about him.”

Allgaier has four top fives this season and is coming off a runner-up finish at Dover and a third-place finish two races before that at Richmond.

“Trying to forget about him is exactly when we’re going to get in trouble and that’s when he’s going to pop his head back into the race and make himself known. He’s had some really bad luck but you definitely can’t rule him out.”

NASCAR community mourns death of former Truck owner Mike Mittler

Photo: Jamie McMurray
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Former and current NASCAR drivers mourned the passing of former Truck Series owner Mike Mittler on Friday. Mittler was 67.

Mittler’s Truck teams competed in 301 series races from 1995-2018. Although his team never won a Truck race, it made an impact in NASCAR, providing rides for such drivers as Carl Edwards, Jamie McMurray, Justin Allgaier and Brad Keselowski, among others. Copp Motorsports announced before the season it was dedicating the year to Mittler. The team changed its number from 83 to 63.

“If it wasn’t for people like Mike who have paved the way, we wouldn’t have the opportunities that we have now to participate in NASCAR,” Copp Motorsports owner DJ Copp said.

Mittler stated Oct. 3, 2017, on his Facebook page that he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He stated in that posting that he had his first chemo treatment that day and was at the shop after the treatment.

Many in the sport paid tribute to Mittler on Friday.

Chris Blair, executive vice president and general manager of World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois, stated about Mittler: “Mike was special. He was a great man who inspired many. I value each moment shared with him through the years, especially those in the garage along with my son.”

Here is what others in the sport said about Mittler:

Christopher Bell takes third Xfinity win of season at Dover

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Christopher Bell rallied in the second half to win his second straight race at Dover International Speedway, the third win of this season and the 11th of his Xfinity Series career in Saturday’s Allied Steel Buildings 200.

In addition to the win, Bell also earned a cool $100,000 as the highest finishing Xfinity Dash 4 Cash driver, out-dueling Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe and Gray Gaulding.

Bell led 44 of the race’s 200 laps around the 1-mile concrete oval. Justin Allgaier finished second, followed by Reddick, Cole Custer and Briscoe.

“Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had really fast race cars but just weren’t able to capitalize on it,” Bell told Fox Sports 1. “This one is really out to my pit crew. They did a great job to get me out first to control the restarts. I knew once we got to the front, we were going to be tough to beat.

“This is one of my favorite tracks because you can move around, kind of find different lines and get going.”

Click here for full results.

Click here for the updated Xfinity Series point standings.

Custer led a race-high 156 laps but fell back in the latter quarter of the race as Bell would not be denied.

“It’s really frustrating when you lead that many laps,” Custer told FS1. “You just can’t give up your track position here. Everybody wants to win here at Dover, that’s why it’s so frustrating.

“It’s about the hardest track to pass at that we go to. We just couldn’t get it all back. We were so good and feel like we didn’t take advantage of a great car today. It’s good we had so much speed to compete with those guys, but we need to figure out a way of beating them every weekend.”

Finishing sixth through 10th were Austin Cindric, Brandon Jones, John Hunter Nemechek, Zane Smith and Michael Annett.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Cole Custer (led all 45 laps)

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer (led all 45 laps)

NOTABLE: Saturday was the final of the four Dash 4 Cash races. It’s also the second time Bell has won the $100,000 top prize this year in those four races.

WHAT’S NEXT: Alsco 300, May 25, Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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Cole Custer takes pole for this afternoon’s Xfinity race at Dover

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Cole Custer earned his second Xfinity Series pole of the season and will lead the field to the green in this afternoon’s Allied Steel Buildings 200 at Dover International Speedway.

Driving the No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang, Custer covered the 1-mile, concrete track at 157.329 mph. It was his eighth pole of his Xfinity career.

“I think (single car qualifying) is exciting, but it’s stressful as a driver, at least for me,” Custer told Fox Sports 1. “You’re going down that long pit road, especially if you’re going out late, and you’re just psyching yourself out the whole time, should I drive in this deep or this deep.

“You just have to stay focused with what you’re doing. I think there’s going to be some good guys out there, but we definitely have a good car that could be here for a win.”

Justin Allgaier, who failed pre-qualifying inspection three times, leading to the ejection from the speedway of his car chief, bounced back to join Custer on the front row with a speed of 157.219 mph.

Third through 10th were Austin Cindric (157.054 mph), Christopher Bell (157.048), Tyler Reddick (157.034), Zane Smith (156.461), Chase Briscoe (156.386), Brandon Jones (156.162), Noah Gragson (156.114) and Ross Chastain (156.074).

The race is slated to begin later this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Click here for the full qualifying report.

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