NASCAR on Wednesday issued five penalties to crew chiefs in the Cup or Xfinity series following this past weekend’s racing action at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
In the Cup Series, crew chiefs Greg Ives (No. 88 driven by Alex Bowman), Adam Stevens (No. 18 driven by Kyle Busch) and John Klausmeier (No. 10 driven by Aric Almirola) were each fined $10,000 apiece for lug nut(s) not properly installed, found during post-race inspection.
In the Xfinity Series, crew chiefs David Elenz (No. 9 driven by Noah Gragson) and Jeff Meendering (No. 19 driven by Brandon Jones) were each fined $5,000 apiece for lug nut(s) not properly installed, found during post-race inspection.
TOP 5s: Seven (Only three more than in 2017 when he ran in 18 races)
TOP 10s: 20
POLES: None (Had two in 2017 as a part-time driver)
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Beat Elliott Sadler in the closest finish in NASCAR history to win the season-opening race at Daytona … Had eight top tens in the last 12 races, including six in the seven-race playoffs … Delivered JR Motorsports its third Xfinity title and its second in a row … Was the first driver to ever win the first and last race of the season.
WHAT WENT WRONG: After his Daytona win, Reddick finished in the top five only once in the next 22 races … Experienced five DNFs in a 12-race stretch mid-season … Led 54 laps in the Texas playoff race but was passed on the last lap by Cole Custer and finished second.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2019: Reddick will have his third home in as many years as he moves from JR Motorsports to Richard Childress Racing, where he’ll drive the No. 2 Chevrolet … Reddick will be the first Xfinity champion to defend his title since Chase Elliott in 2015.
For Reddick, she was there to help put his No. 9 Chevrolet in the right place when the final of five overtime restarts began earlier in the day.
She was present in the form of the No. 1 Chevrolet driven by Elliott Sadler.
Due to a power problem stemming from the exhaust system on his car, Reddick had been unable to push or be pushed effectively in the draft most of the day.
That changed when an 18-car wreck broke out around Reddick on the backstretch on the first overtime restart, when he had restarted in the fourth row. Reddick was one of the few to make it through with minor to no damage.
“When there was not very many cars left and I was one of the few left to push, I guess they had no choice but to push me,” says Reddick.
On the final restart, Reddick restarted on the inside front row with Sadler behind him. Reed and Ryan Truex were on the outside.
The dueling set of drivers were nearly even for the first half lap. Then the push – similar to one Sadler was penalized for earlier in the race – came. It allowed Reddick to clear Reed heading into Turn 3. No one but Sadler would pull even with Reddick the rest of the way.
Thanks to Grandma Brown.
“That little extra push that we got, Elliott was her helping us, that’s how we looked at,” Reddick says
ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING
When the two cars leading the PowerShares QQQ 300 roared by pit stall 42 for the last time, David Elenz was pessimistic.
Sitting atop his pit box, the crew chief for Reddick and the No. 9 Chevrolet didn’t believe his car would win the drag race against Sadler to the checkered flag.
He had plenty of reasons to believe either way thanks to the race’s previous 142 laps, but specifically the last 22, which included all five overtime restarts.
The third one ended in a two-car wreck exiting Turn 4 with Reddick cleanly leading the field and preparing to take the white flag.
But the caution was issued moments before Reddick crossed the start-finish line.
“I was excited and I thought I had won, but I was like, ‘No, there’s no way. That was too easy. I’m sure that’s going to come back,”‘ says Reddick. “Sure enough, it did.”
As for Elenz, TV cameras had caught the 36-year-old crew chief celebrating his third Daytona win (Chase Elliott, 2016; William Byron, 2017). In the confusion of overtime, he’d forgotten NASCAR allowed unlimited restarts.
“It was pretty quick that Earl said on the radio that we were still under caution,” says Elenz, who quickly had to focus on his job. “It becomes factual at that point. … Thankfully, we had something we had to do. We had to work with the engineers and see where we’re at on fuel and see how much was in the box to make sure he could pick up on the apron or not. There was something for us to work on. I think if we had plenty of fuel and weren’t worried about it, I think it would be a little harder because you’d still be sitting there all pumped up and not focused on something you have to do. I think it helped that we were in a difficult situation.”
Two tries later, Reddick took the white flag and Elenz’s job was done.
Finally, mercifully, Reddick had enough fuel to also take the checkered flag.
After Reddick crossed the start-finish line, Elenz wasn’t going to get too excited.
“Heck, we’ll wait a little bit longer, because we didn’t wait long enough the first time,” Elenz thought.
Three days after his win over Sadler by 0.0004 seconds, Reddick’s voice is shot.
“Too much hootin’ and hollering and all that stuff,” he says.
In his first start in the No. 9 Chevrolet, with a new crew chief, new spotter, new everything, the native of Corning, California, won his second Daytona race. He was the victor of the 2016 Truck Series race.
Reddick’s two-for-six so far at the “World Center of Racing.”
“Some people try and go their whole careers just getting one win and I somehow got me two already,” says Reddick. “It obviously hasn’t sunk in because it hasn’t hit me in the face what we accomplished in our first outing as a team together.”
Reddick was still catching up on about 300 text messages and an avalanche of social media messages congratulating him on the win.
“You can see where obviously the race just ended,” says Reddick of the text messages, which included a message from his former owner Chip Ganassi. “Twitter blew up so bad that I can’t even scroll pass one day of feed or notifications, even if it’s just mentions.”
The time for celebrating will end soon with the Xfinity Series continuing its season Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
He’ll be doing it with Elenz, who won last year’s Xfinity title with Byron in his first year working with just one driver.
“I told him I’m going to make him mad a lot this year,” says Reddick. “Not because I mean to, I’m very frustrating to work with sometimes because I’m so black-and-white with how I break things down, being the dirt racer that I am. Nevertheless, I know we’re going to have fun this year.”
Reddick’s new owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. agrees.
“In the offseason he was texting me about how their tests were going,” Earnhardt said this week on the Dale Jr. Download. “He’s on his own shooting me text messages about how the day is going and I love that about him because he just wants to be engaging. We have great relationships with all our drivers but he’s fitting in so well to JR Motorsports.”