Reddick saw his run of 10 consecutive top-five finishes (including three wins) come to an end. Reddick finished 15th.
Shortly after returning to the track on a late restart in Stage 2, Reddick suffered a flat right rear tire and was unable to wait until the stage was over, struggling to get back to pit road and eventually falling as much as three laps off the pace before ending up just one lap down at the checkered flag.
“I think every driver would agree that this place puts on the best racing we go to,” Custer told FS1 of Iowa. “It was fun. Christopher and them had the best car all day. I feel like we’ve caught up to them.”
This is the eighth consecutive Xfinity Series race this season that has been won by either Bell, Tyler Reddick or Cole Custer.
Stage 1 winner: Christopher Bell
Stage 2 winner: Christopher Bell
Who had a good race: Cole Custer gave Bell a strong challenge late in the race, helped by a couple of cautions, but couldn’t quite get to the lead. … Harrison Burton had an outstanding effort in only his second career Xfinity Series start.
Who had a bad race:Brandon Brown had a bad race, but not of his own fault. He suffered exposure to fumes within his race car, which caused him to be taken to the infield care center.
Not the interviews you want to be a part of, but a thank you to the @NASCARONFOX crew for allowing me to let my family and friends know we are ok just bummed out. https://t.co/4apOSNVKh1
The last man out was the first man standing, as Cole Custer – the last driver to make a qualifying run – took the pole for this afternoon’s CircuitCity.com 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Iowa Speedway.
Custer covered the 7/8-mile track at a top speed of 132.470 mph. It was the 10th pole of his Xfinity career.
“I’m real happy to get the pole, starting the day off good,” Custer told FS Sports. “It’s really nerve-wracking to do this single-car qualifying deal. I think it was a huge advantage for us to go out last.”
The last time a driver other than Reddick, Bell or Custer won a NXS race was nearly three months ago (March 31), when Kyle Busch won at Texas.
Reddick has won three of the last seven races, including last Saturday’s win at Michigan International Speedway.
Will the combined winning streak by Reddick, Bell and Custer continue today at Iowa Speedway?
Here’s all the info for today’s CircuitCity.com 250:
(All times are Eastern)
START: Ronny Shmoel, CEO of Circuit City, and Kai Leung, Tamron North American Business Manager, will give the command to start engines at 5:38 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 5:45 p.m.
PRERACE: Qualifying is at 2:35 p.m.; single car/two laps (FS2, no radio). Driver/crew chief meeting is at 3:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 5 p.m. The invocation will be given at 5:30 p.m. by Aaron Loree. First Lt. Kyle Patterson, 224th Brigade Engineer Battalion, will perform the National Anthem at 5:31 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is 250 laps (218.75 miles) around the 7/8-mile track.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 60. Stage 2 ends on Lap 120.
TV/RADIO: FS1 will televise the race. Coverage begins at 5 p.m. The Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 5 p.m. and also can be heard at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.
FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 77 degrees and a 14percent chance of rain for the start of the race.
After winning the 2018 season opener at Daytona, the then JR Motorsports driver fell off a cliff. He earned just one more top five before the first Iowa race and wouldn’t get another until race No. 24 at Darlington, which began his championship surge.
Now Reddick is enjoying the best stretch of racing in his career and making history in the process.
His win Saturday at Michigan was his 10th consecutive top five, the longest streak by a non-Cup competitor since Sam Ard had 11 straight in 1984 (Ard had 15 straight from 1983-84).
Through 13 races, Reddick is tied for the most top fives all-time at this point (11) and has the second best average finish (3.9).
And if not for a pass by Custer on the last turn at Pocono, Reddick would have four wins.
While all six of Reddick’s Xfinity wins to date have come at different tracks, none have been on a track shorter than 1.5-miles.
He’ll try to change that at Iowa, where he has one top five in four starts (third in 2017).
“This year we’ll be headed into Iowa Speedway with some unknowns since we have a new tire,” Reddick said in a media release. “We had a tire test there about a month ago that we participated in (and involved Bell and Custer) and it looks like they’re going in a direction with a harder tire that won’t have as much fall-off. I think they’re hoping with a harder tire there will be some more interesting strategy calls in the race, so that we may see some teams take two or no tires in order to gain track position.
“We’ll see what happens with that. The tire we used to have there was really fast and didn’t really have any fall-off, so I would go to the top groove right away. This time the bottom lane will be open for everybody, but I don’t think it will be quite as fast.”
Bell is staying just ahead of his pace last year that made him the championship favorite before Reddick’s surprising surge.
While Bell won a rookie record seven races in 2018, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver didn’t turn on the afterburners until after the July Daytona race. By race No. 14 last year, Bell had one win (Richmond), with seven top fives with no finishes between sixth to 10th.
A year later, Bell again has seven top fives and one finish between sixth and 10th after 13 races. He also has one less DNF than he had in 2018 (three).
Bell’s wins this year have come at Atlanta (1.5-mile track), Bristol (half-mile) and Dover (1-mile).
Now Bell will look to continue a hot streak at Iowa. With three starts there he finished in the top two in both races last year, including a win in the July race.
“We should have a good shot at it; short track racing seems to be our strong suit right now,” Bell said in a media release. “I enjoy 1.5-mile tracks and intermediate style racing better, but for whatever reason, we seem to run better on the short tracks. Iowa is like a short track with intermediate track speeds; it’s in its own unique category. It’s a fun racetrack; you get to go there and typically you can pass, move around and find different lanes.”
While Reddick is arguably the most improved driver from last year, don’t let it overshadow what Custer has accomplished.
In his third full-time season with Stewart-Haas Racing, Custer has hit his sweet spot. He has three wins after earning only one each in 2017 and ’18. Both wins came in the final three races of those seasons.
Thus far this season, the No. 00 Ford has seven top fives including its three wins. Custer had four top fives at this point in 2018.
One downside is that Custer has two fewer top 10s heading to Iowa than he did last year (10). He is tied with Bell with eight.
Custer took pride earlier this year in finally earning a win on a short track (Richmond). He’ll attempt to back it up in Iowa, where he has two top fives in four starts. He led 104 laps there last July before finishing ninth after he made late-race contact with the wall.
“It’s the best track we go to,” Custer said of Iowa on NASCAR.com. “It’s so fun, you’re able to run from the top to the bottom, throw slide jobs. It’s probably the biggest track we throw slide jobs at. … It’s every driver’s dream I would say.”