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Tyler Reddick reflects on closest finish in NASCAR history

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On Saturday night in Daytona Beach, everyone was hanging out at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse.

At one table sat 10 people. Among them was Tyler Reddick, the winner of the day’s Xfinity Series race just down International Speedway Blvd. at Daytona International Speedway.

The 22-year-old driver ate and had a few drinks with friends and competitors, including Spencer Gallagher and his girlfriend.

At another table, Reddick’s spotter Earl Barban dined with his wife and a friend.

Ryan Reed, who finished third to Reddick, was at another with his family and some of Reddick’s friends.

At one point, a friend told Reddick he was getting together with people for drinks 10 miles away, right on the coast at Riptides Raw Bar & Grill.

Reddick tagged along.

When the JR Motorsports driver entered the establishment, a surprise gathering of between 30 and 40 friends and family members were waiting for him.

They were there to celebrate Reddick’s triumph in the closest finish in NASCAR history.

A HEAVENLY PUSH

Not among those celebrating with Reddick was his grandmother, Carolyn Brown, who passed away from health complications in October.

Saturday’s win was the first for Reddick since.

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

Tyler Reddick beat Elliott Sadler by a NASCAR record margin of victory of 0.0004. (Getty Images).

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.

Tyler Reddick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in victory lane at Daytona International Speedway (Getty Images).

ONWARD

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.

“I have a really good feeling about it since we tested there a month ago,” says Reddick. “I feel like we’ve already gotten the ball rolling pretty good.”

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.”

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Tyler Reddick wins Xfinity Series opener at Daytona in overtime finish

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Tyler Reddick won the Xfinity Series opener at Daytona after a track record 12 cautions, a record five restarts in overtime and one red flag period.

Driving the No. 9 Chevrolet, Reddick beat his JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler in the closest finish in national NASCAR series history, earning his second Xfinity win.

The margin of victory was 0.0004.

“That was insane. I just saw a picture of it like 10 minutes ago. It’s not much,” Reddick said in the winner’s press conference. “I guess it was just enough, just soon enough.”

The previous closest finish was .001 in the 1995 Truck Series race at Colorado National Speedway, won by Butch Miller over Mike Skinner.

The top five was completed by Ryan Reed, rookie Kaz Grala and Garrett Smithley.

“Feels amazing,” Reddick told Fox Sports 1. “This was a hell of a way to start off the year with JR Motorsports. … This is a hell of way to get my second win, my first win with JR Motorsports.”

Reddick is now qualified for the Xfinity playoffs.

“I think it’s an amazing opportunity,” Reddick said. “It’s just going to take a little bit of time to het honed in. I guess we’re getting along good right off the bat. We were having some problems all day long. We were having some issues with the motor. I don’t know exactly what it was, but it held on all race long. It was getting worse at the end.”

Reddick, 22, led 11 laps in the race. None of them were in regulation.

Overtime was setup by a spin by Sadler with three laps to go in the scheduled distance on the backstretch. Sadler had previously been black flagged along with Chase Elliott for locking their bumpers together for too long with 26 to go.

Sadler was able to mount a comeback thanks to a crash with 22 to go.

It resulted in his third runner-up finish in the last three restrictor-plate races.

“I was trying to figure out how close to get to (Reddick),” Sadler told Fox Sports 1. “My spotter was telling me the 16 (Reed) was coming too, so I didn’t want to leave him the outside. Man, I really want to win this race. Most eventful race I’ve ever been a part of. Spun there twice. Got black flagged for absolutely no reason in my opinion but that’s the way it goes. … I’m proud that a JR Motorsports car went to victory lane, but I wish it was us today.”

Originally scheduled for 120 laps, the race ended after 143 laps. That’s a series record at Daytona.

The first overtime attempt was marred by a massive wreck on the backstretch that involved 18 cars.

The race marked the 100th for Xfinity as the series sponsor.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Larson

STAGE 2 WINNER: Chase Elliott

MORE: Race results and point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Garrett Smithley bounced back from a late-race accident to earn his first top five in his 67th start. His previous best result was eighth in this race last year … Ryan Reed earned his sixth top five. Four have come at Daytona … Spencer Gallagher finished a career-best sixth in his 41st start. Gallagher had been involved in a one-car accident on the second overtime restart … Jeff Green finished 11th for his best finish since placing 10th at Talladega last year.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: In his first start on an oval in Xfinity, Austin Cindric started a eight-car wreck in the tri-oval as the field began Lap 11. The wreck eliminated Cindric and Christopher Bell … With 14 to go in the original distance, the caution waived for separate spins by Garrett Smithley and Michael Annett in the tri-oval. Smithley was turned by Ryan Truex and Annett was turned by Brandon Jones … Drivers included in the massive crash on first overtime restart: Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Chase Elliot, Joey Gase, Aric Almirola, Justin Allgaier, Austin Dillon, Matt Tifft, Jeremy Clements, Joe Nemechek, Brandon Brown, Cole Custer, Daniel Suarez, Brandon Jones, David Starr, Jeff Green, Dylan Lupton and Caesar Bacarella.

NOTABLE: Reddick’s win is his second at Daytona. He won the 2015 Truck Series opener at the track. The average age of the field was 28 years, 10 months and 11 days, the youngest ever at Daytona … The 357.5 miles in the race is the second longest race in series history in terms of miles.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “When I have enough fuel, yes.” – David Elenz, crew chief for Tyler Reddick when asked if he likes unlimited restarts in overtime.

QUOTE OF THE DAY 2: “Either way, fine with me.” – JR Motorsports owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. after being told the margin of victory was the closest in history.

WHAT’S NEXT: Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway at 2 p.m. ET on Feb. 24 on Fox Sports 1.

Ryan Reed takes Xfinity Series points lead after Daytona win

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With his season-opening win in Saturday’s Powershares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway, Ryan Reed is the first points leader of 2017 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings.

Brendan Gaughan is second, nine points behind Reed, followed by Elliott Sadler (-14) in third place.

There is a three-way tie for fourth place, all drivers 16 points behind Reed: Scott Lagasse Jr., rookie Matt Tifft and Dakoda Armstrong.

MORE: Ryan Reed captures second season-opening Xfinity win in three seasons at Daytona

MORE: Race results: Xfinity Series Powershares QQQ 300 at Daytona

Rounding out the top 10 are seventh-ranked Joey Gase (-17), Garrett Smithley and Blake Koch are tied for eighth (-18) and rookie William Byron is 10th, 19 points behind Reed.

Click here to see the Xfinity Series point standings.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Race results: Xfinity Series Powershares QQQ 300 at Daytona

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Ryan Reed waited for Saturday for two years.

After winning his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series race in the 2015 season opener at Daytona International Speedway, Reed finally returned to victory lane at the same place he did the first time, winning Saturday’s Powershares QQQ 300.

MORE: Ryan Reed captures second season-opening Xfinity win in three seasons at Daytona

MORE: Ryan Reed takes Xfinity Series points lead after Daytona win

Kasey Kahne finished second, followed by fellow NASCAR veterans Austin Dillon, Brad Keselowski and Brendan Gaughan.

Click here for a complete race report.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Ryan Reed captures second season-opening Xfinity win in three seasons at Daytona

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There’s something about Daytona International Speedway that brings out the best in Roush Fenway Racing driver Ryan Reed.

The Bakersfield, California native earned his second career NASCAR Xfinity Series win during Saturday’s Powershares QQQ 300 — to go along with his win in the 2015 Xfinity series opener, also at the 2.5-mile “World Center of Racing.”

Reed overcame minor damage in an early wreck, then needed four laps of overtime to capture the 124-lap race (originally scheduled for 120 laps). It was the first win in either the Xfinity or NASCAR Cup Series for Roush Fenway Racing since Chris Buescher won at Dover in spring 2015.

“I’ve had so many people tell me how amazing that first win was (in 2015),” Reed told Fox Sports 1. “That win drove me to get back to victory lane.”

MORE: Race results: Xfinity Series Powershares QQQ 300 at Daytona

MORE: Ryan Reed takes Xfinity Series points lead after Daytona win

Reed was followed by a gaggle of NASCAR veterans finishing second to fifth: Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon, Brad Keselowski and Brendan Gaughan.

Reed traded the lead several times with Kahne during the last 15 laps, but was able to rally, took the lead for good on Lap 122 and then held on for the final two laps to capture the checkered flag in similar fashion to the way he earned his first Xfinity win at DIS two years ago.

“We just never got enough boost to get back by the 16 (Reed),” Kahne said.

The race was marked by two lengthy red-flag periods from wrecks that involved 18 and 12 cars, respectively during the first stage of the three-stage race.

MORE: Two multi-car wrecks involving 30 cars bring out red flags early in Xfinity race at Daytona.

There was another multi-car wreck with 16 laps left in the race that cost Elliott Sadler a chance at victory. Up to that point, Sadler had led a race-high 40 laps and was the winner of the first and second stages.

But Sadler was hit from behind by Austin Dillon, causing him to spin and trigger a wreck that involved nearly a dozen cars, many that sailed through the Daytona Infield Speedway grass.

Sadler’s crew was able to repair some of the damage and get him back on the racetrack, but his car could not get back up to speed and was sent to the garage, ending his day and leaving him with a 24th-place finish.

“We really wanted to go to victory lane and I had a car good enough to do it,” Sadler told FS1. “(The contact with Dillon) wasn’t intentional, we were just bump drafting, trying to get all we could get, and we just caught it a little wrong and wrecked and couldn’t hold on to it.”

First stage winner: Elliott Sadler.

Second stage winner: Elliott Sadler.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Even though he was knocked out late in the race by a wreck, Elliott Sadler won the first two stages and is now third in the points, 14 points behind Reed and five points behind second-ranked Gaughan. … Sixth-place finisher Scott Lagasse Jr. earned his best Xfinity career finish.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: A number of drivers had early exits due to first stage wrecks, including (from 28th through 37th place) Brandon Jones, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, Erik Jones, Darrell Wallace Jr., Jeremy Clements, Spencer Gallagher and Cole Custer.

NOTABLE: There were 23 lead changes among seven drivers and 10 cautions for 42 laps.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “That right there was fun. … I took a gamble, but if you’re going to take a gamble you might as well gamble on a win.” – Race winner Ryan Reed to FS1.

WHAT’S NEXT: Rinnai 250 on Saturday March 4 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Follow @JerryBonkowski