HOMESTEAD, Fla. – One year ago, Tyler Reddick left Homestead-Miami Speedway as an underdog champion, but Saturday night he celebrated as a back-to-back NASCAR Xfinity Series titlist.
Reddick won out in the season finale for the second-straight year, topping a thrilling Ford EcoBoost 300 after battles with both Christopher Bell and Cole Custer down the stretch at the 1.5-mile Florida oval.
Though both Bell and Custer controlled the event at various times during the night, when it mattered most, Reddick was able to take his performance to another level and pull away from the field.
The decisive battle for the win and the championship came during and after the final round of pit stops, which came under green with 41 laps to go when Bell and Allgaier made moves to come in for service.
A miscommunication on the radio actually caused Bell to miss pit road the first time around, but he made it back safely with 40 to go, setting the stage for strategy by Reddick and Custer that ultimately decided the outcome.
Reddick and Custer both dove to the pit lane with 37 to go, taking four fresh tires that were roughly four laps newer than the other title contenders, then racing one another back onto the track as Bell and Allgaier stormed into the picture again for a few brief, tense moments.
Allgaier faded out of a three-wide battle in a hurry, while the slightly-fresher rubber allowed Custer – who slipped past Reddick in the wild exchange – and Reddick to run down and pass Bell on lap 167.
From there, Reddick went to the fence as Custer worked the middle groove, each one trying to pressure the other into a mistake as the laps wound down on the scoreboard.
Custer eventually moved higher and higher, with both he and Reddick tagging the wall at various points inside of 25 to go, but finally Reddick had enough of waiting and powered low with a turn-one slide job at lap 182.
The move stuck and Reddick was able to both clear Custer and pull away, opening up almost three seconds after Custer tagged the wall with nine laps left before easing off the gas in the final moments.
Reddick took the checkered flag 1.038 seconds clear of Custer for his ninth career win and sixth of the season, putting the cap on a remarkable season that included 24 top fives and 27 top 10s in 33 races.
In victory lane, an emotional Reddick was quick to pass the appreciation off to his race team as he celebrated his second championship in as many years.
“It’s all about this race team, man, and I was just honored to pilot this Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet all year long,” Reddick said. “This Tame the Beast Chevrolet was just so, so fast all weekend long. Hats off to Team Chevy and all those guys for working on this new Chevrolet, and all the guys at ECR for giving us great power. I’m losing my breath, I’m that excited.
“This one means so much more (than 2018). It was a lot better year and so cool to go back‑to‑back.”
Of his decisive pass for the win, which came after trading crossovers with Custer in successive laps, Reddick admitted that he didn’t have a plan but had to race Custer for all it was worth at the end.
“I wouldn’t say I had it planned out, but I made a lot of mistakes around Cole tonight and he wasn’t happy about it, so I knew he was going to race me hard tonight,” Reddick noted. “I knew I had to get around him before he got good enough up top that I couldn’t get back to him. It stuck better than I thought it would, and he tried to get me back there … but we were able to hold on and pull away.
“If I hadn’t hit the wall on the frontstretch there while we were battling, I wouldn’t have touched it all night, I don’t think,” Reddick added with a chuckle. “But it was fun. This one was a lot of fun.”
Reddick became the first Xfinity Series driver to win back-to-back titles with different teams, backing up his maiden championship with JR Motorsports by earning one with RCR this time around.
“It’s awesome to set that mark, one that no one else has done before us,” Reddick noted. “I think everything I’ve been through the last two years made me a more well-rounded driver, and we were able to earn the regular-season championship and close out the playoffs in great shape here in Miami.
“This one is all about Richard (Childress), though,” he added. “He’s the one who believed I could be a champion before I won the first one, and I was just glad to keep him true to his promise.”
Custer ended up second in the race and in the season standings, while Bell faded to fifth in the final rundown and was credited with third in points for the year.
Allgaier, who snuck into the Championship 4 with a win in the penultimate race of the season a week earlier at ISM Raceway, cut a tire late and ended up worst of the quartet, one lap down in 14th.
Of note, Chase Briscoe rallied from contact with the wall and a flat right-front tire to clinch Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, finishing third in the race ahead of fellow rookie Noah Gragson and Bell.