From worst to first, Tyler Reddick put together an impressive performance on a wild Friday night during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Food City 300 Bristol Motor Speedway.
Forced to start at the back of the field after his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet failed pre-race inspection four times, Reddick was brilliant driving through the field, taking the lead with 11 laps remaining and hanging on for his first career Xfinity Series win at Bristol.
“We’ve just been able to come to the track with a lot of confidence and even when things don’t look to be going that great, we know we’re going to race really hard,” said Reddick, who also wasn’t allowed to qualify. “We’re going to do what it takes to put ourselves in contention, and we were able to take advantage of the situations at the right time, and we were able to win. We’ve just got a great group around us, and I’ve got a lot confidence with these guys.”
The defending Xfinity Series champion was the beneficiary of a wild night on the track, as wrecks took out a flurry of top contenders, including Christopher Bell, Cole Custer, Joey Logano and Erik Jones during an incident on lap 38, and an engine failure took out stage two winner Kyle Busch.
Busch’s engine failed on the closing laps of the stage, ending his night and preventing a chance for a 10th Xfinity Series win in Bristol. Meanwhile, it set Reddick up for a frenetic finish.
“I felt really good about our car once we got back on the racetrack,” Reddick said. “We were passing cars pretty quick and I was really happy with our car at the beginning of the race. I thought we were going to have a good pace, and we just got a break at the right time and worked our way back from there.”
Reddick’s break was Allgaier’s unfortunate loss, as his 131 laps led went for naught when a flat tire on Lap 289 dropped him back to eighth.
He had led 109 straight laps to that point, looking strong all night on restarts. Allgaier took off on the last one with 14 laps remaining in his No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet opening up a sizable lead despite running on worn tires, but his demise came just a few laps later.
“I don’t even think the word disappointment begins to describe not just this race, but this year,” Allgaier said. “This one is going to hurt for a while.”
Chase Briscoe ended up second, while John Hunter Nemechek followed in third. Jeremy Clements took fourth and polesitter Austin Cindric rounded out the top five.
Briscoe lamented his own opportunity at the victory in his No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, failing to get past Reddick on the final restart. He battled through his own early struggles, visiting pit road numerous times and overcoming an early penalty, but what he really wanted was to win in Bristol for the first time.
“We were good enough to win the race, I felt like,” Briscoe said. “We had that damage at the beginning, we came down pit road 7-8 times and we just kept driving up through the field. It was so frustrating. We had such a good Ford Performance Mustang, and you don’t get very many opportunities to win a Bristol night race.
“I was easily in position there at the end, especially when Justin had his issue. That last restart, all of us were just so loose all of a sudden getting into the corner. I was so close to clearing 2 off the (turn) 2, and if we do that we win the race. It stinks. I want to win at Bristol so bad.”
Reddick came close at the spring race, finishing second to Bell, but the pre-race predicament seemed like it would too much to overcome on Friday.
But an early wreck on Lap 9 helped, and he benefitted greatly from the crash that knocked out Logan and Jones, and effectively ended Bell and Custer’s nights.
Reddick raced all the way to second by Lap 77, but his night nearly came to an abrupt end after he ran too hard in the corner trying to overtake Allgaier.
He spun out, giving the stage win to Brandon Jones, but Reddick again went to work. He grabbed a momentary lead to open the third stage, but Allgaier passed him on Lap 181 and seemed ready to cruise to victory.
Reddick, though, would not be denied as he showed championship mettle when it counted, picking up his fourth win this season and seventh in his Xfinity Series career.
“I felt it was going to be really hard to get to the lead, and then everything happened the way it did,” Reddick said. “It was really crazy, so I was really happy to see it go that way. For it to come back to us, it was nice and it makes me look a lot better than I think it should. I was really happy we were able to redeem ourselves and close our night out with a win.”