As seen in year’s past, if you want to win the championship, you will more than likely also have to win the race. Tyler Reddick did just that at Homestead-Miami Speedway and capped off a perfect season by earning his sixth win of the 2019 season. He took the lead with 18 to go after a fierce battle with Championship 4 contender Cole Custer. Reddick became just the seventh Xfinity Series driver to win back-to-back championships.
“It’s just amazing and the best part is, my girlfriend Alexa said if I won the championship, our baby boy was going to be named Bo,” Reddick said to MRN Radio. “I got the call so late, we were honestly trying to keep everyone on their toes. I was sideways coming on pit road and I really didn’t know how good my approach was, so I just took it easy. I cost us a lot of time there and came out behind the other two (Champ 4 drivers). That’s on me, I had to put that in my back and had to go out there, and pass those guys while ultimately putting this car in victory lane. Had to put this car in victory lane to where it deserves, that’s on the championship stage, as well as an Owner’s Championship in Richard Childress Racing’s 50th year.”
Qualifying was held on Saturday afternoon just a few hours before the Xfinity Series race. The session also saw Reddick qualifying on the pole. Championship 4 drivers Cole Custer was second, Christopher Bell was seventh and Justin Allgaier qualified 16th. Bobby Earnhardt was the only driver that failed to qualify. Stages were broke into 45/45/110 laps to make up the 200-lap race distance.
Stage 1: Lap 1- Lap 45
Stage 1 got off to a rocky start with multiple incidents. On lap 6 the first yellow came out for the No. 07 of Ray Black Jr. as a tremendous amount of smoke came out of the back of his car. The day would end early for Black Jr. but he would be okay. Another incident occurred in Turn 4 on Lap 16, where the No. 15 of Tyler Matthews hit the wall hard and had a flat tire. Matthews’ day was done early too and resulted in a 37th place finish.
A piece of debris was stuck in Turns 3 and 4 after the accident which made the leaders move down a groove to protect their car from getting hit with it. Shortly after TV cameras pointed the debris out, officials displayed the yellow for the third time of the night on Lap 34.
With a few quick cautions early, the rest of the stage saw a nine lap dash to the stage break. Stewart-Haas Racing driver Chase Briscoe took the stage win while Custer was second, Reddick fourth, Bell 12th and Allgaier finished 13th.
Stage 2: Lap 51- Lap 96
Stage 2 was relaxed for the most part when it came to the cautions. However, one Championship 4 driver had a problem occur on Lap 57. Custer had reported a potential loose wheel to the No. 00. Trying to stay out in hopes of a caution and not lose track positions, he could not anymore and eventually pitted on Lap 60. After the pit stop, the team quickly diagnosed the issue, which was a right-rear that was loose. Custer rejoined the race, one lap down.
One more driver also faced a tire issue. Jeb Burton had a right rear tire go down as well, but this time, almost spinning out coming to the entry of pit road. Burton saved the car and was able to get down to pit road without bringing out a caution.
Just a few laps before the stage finished, Custer had the lucky dog position and was hoping that the No. 22 of Austin Cindric, who was the race leader at the time, would help Custer out by leaning over to get his lap back. However, an accident broke out between Justin Haley and Harrison Burton off Turn 4. Custer passed Cindric in time before the caution was displayed in order to get his lap back.
Cindric wound up winning the stage, with Bell in second, Allgaier in third, Reddick in fourth and Custer in 16th.
Stage 3: Lap 96- Lap 200
As soon as the final stage began, the caution was flown once again. This time it was a bumper cover off Haley’s car that was on the frontstretch. While the drivers were scrambling not to run over it, the No. 35 of Joey Gase was the unlucky one and hit the debris.
After having a strong car early, Briscoe brought out the caution with 78 to go. The Stewart-Haas driver found himself in the wall with a right front tire down. With the caution, most of the leaders pitted and Bell won the race off pit road.
From that point on, no cautions would be flown but intense battles took place. Three out of the four championship drivers were the top three with 51 to go. Bell was out front, Reddick in second and Custer third. All three drivers were battling hard to win the championship.
When the last round of green-flag pit stops started to take place, Bell missed the entry to pit road with 41 to go. This ultimately cost him a shot to win the championship and a lot of ground on the racetrack. Therefore, the championship was left up to Reddick, Custer and Allgaier, unless a caution late bunched the field up.
Allgaier pitted the same time Bell did, while Reddick and Custer pitted a few laps later. When the two rejoined the racing surface, they found themselves racing with Allgaier. The three of them were not trying to run each other over and were three wide going off the pit stops. Eventually, Reddick and Custer had the best two cars of the night and broke away from Allgaier leaving the two drivers to decide it out on their own.
Working the high line, Reddick made slight contact with the wall while trying to chase Custer with 33 to go. The contact wasn’t hard enough to slow him down but it basically helped Reddick a little bit. The Richard Childress Racing driver still kept close to Custer in regrouping and trying to find more momentum. Reddick found his chance with 18 to go and took the lead. Hoping for no cautions, the Corning, California native held on en route to the ninth victory of his Xfinity Series career and a second Xfinity Series championship.
“It’s about this race team, man, and I was just honored to pilot this Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet,” Reddick said. “I’m losing my breath—I’m that excited. This one means so much more. It was just a lot better year, and it was really cool to go back-to-back.”
Meanwhile, Cole Custer came up short once again despite rebounding from a flat tire early on in the race and a battle with Reddick.
“Yeah, I mean, like I said, I think I said it on TV, Tyler can rip the fence here,” Custer said. “I don’t know, I can match his lap time there, out there at the end, but he was just a tick better where he could be on my bumper when he was behind me and do a slide job, and I could keep up with him and I just ‑‑ there at the end I felt like I needed to find a way to close the gap.”
“I was just like three car lengths back the whole time, so I was like, I need to try and figure out a way to close the gap, and I just got in the fence a little bit. It’s been a great year, so we have a lot to hang our hats on. It sucks running second again, but we can still stay positive about how great of a year we’ve had.”
Reddick led five times for 84 laps before closing the door on the 2019 Xfinity Series season. There were seven cautions for 35 laps and 15 lead changes among six drivers.
- Tyler Reddick, 2019 Xfinity Series Champion, led 84 laps
- Cole Custer, led 15 laps
- Chase Briscoe, 2019 Rookie Of The Year, led 14 laps
- Noah Gragson, led 10 laps
- Christopher Bell, led 37 laps
- John Hunter Nemechek
- Austin Cindric, led 40 laps
- Brandon Jones
- Jeb Burton, one lap down
- Harrison Burton, one lap down
- Michael Annett, one lap down
- Ryan Sieg, one lap down
- Brandon Brown, one lap down
- Justin Allgaier, one lap down
- Landon Cassill, one lap down
- Jeremy Clements, two laps down
- Gray Gaulding, two laps down
- Alex Labbe, two laps down
- Josh Williams, two laps down
- B.J. McLeod, two laps down
- Colin Garrett, two laps down
- Will Rodgers, three laps down
- David Starr, four laps down
- Stephen Leicht, five laps down
- Jairo Avila Jr, five laps down
- Vinnie Miller, seven laps down
- Joey Gase, seven laps down
- Robby Lyons, eight laps down
- Joe Nemechek, eight laps down
- Matt Mills, OUT, Clutch
- C.J. McLaughlin, OUT, Vibration
- Garrett Smithley, OUT, Oil Line
- Justin Haley, OUT, Damage Vehicle Policy
- Timmy Hill, OUT, Brakes
- Chad Finchum, OUT, Engine
- J.J. Yeley, OUT, Suspension
- Tyler Matthews, OUT, Crash
- Ray Black Jr, OUT, Engine
Up Next: With the 2019 Xfinity Series season officially over, the next on-track activity will be the 2020 opener at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 15.