Fuel strategy pays off for Tyler Reddick in Michigan Xfinity win

BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN - JUNE 08: Tyler Reddick, driver of the #2 KC Motorgroup Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series LTi Printing 250 at Michigan International Speedway on June 08, 2019 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

“Three” was the magic number in Saturday’s LTI Printing 250 at Michigan International Speedway, and that was just fine with Tyler Reddick.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series leader—one of the so-called “Big Three” in the series this year—saved enough fuel over the closing 44-lap green-flag run to win for the third time this season, matching fellow Big Three members Christopher Bell and Cole Custer for most so far this year.

After Custer and Bell pitted for fuel from the top two positions with 10 and 11 laps left, respectively, Reddick inherited the lead on Lap 115 of 125 with a lead of just over three seconds over Michael Annett. Ultimately, Reddick finished 1.515 seconds ahead of Noah Gragson, who passed Annett for the runner-up spot on the final lap.

Annett held third, followed by pole winner Paul Menard and Justin Allgaier.

The victory was Reddick’s first at Michigan and the sixth of his career, accomplished with three different organizations (Chip Ganassi Racing, JR Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing, his current ride. Reddick overcame a Lap 33 snafu on pit road where he slid through his pit stall and dropped to 10th for a restart on Lap 38.

Reddick came to pit road for the final time on lap 78 and got 47 laps out of his last tank of fuel.

“I just didn’t want to burn a lot of fuel there,” the driver of the No. 2 RCR Chevrolet said of the closing run. “Our Chevrolet was really good, but I made some mistakes on pit road, and we didn’t get the track position until the end there.

“A great team effort. I didn’t do the thing I needed to do on the race track but, man, that was a great car and we put ourselves in position to win.”

The victory was also Reddick’s third in the last five races.

“All the guys at Richard Childress Racing just make an outstanding effort throughout the week,” Reddick said. “Their efforts back at the shop and their hours spent from morning to afternoon every single day is what’s paying off in getting us back to Victory Lane so often this year.”

Miscommunication between crew chief and driver cost both Bell and Custer chances to win the race. Under caution on Lap 78, after Chase Briscoe’s spin a lap earlier, Bell misunderstood instructions to pit and stayed on the track. Custer was told on his team radio to do whatever Bell did and also missed a chance to refuel his car.

“That was our first time using code words, and we got the code mixed up,” said Bell, who had just picked up his sixth stage win of the season on Lap 60.

Custer finished 12th and Bell 13th.

“We had a really fast Mustang,” Custer said ruefully. “I really wanted to win here for Ford in their back yard and everything. We got the track position and got up front, and I think we had the best car here.

“I don’t know how much the 2 (Reddick) was saving there, but the strategy just didn’t work out for us. That one kind of stings, but I definitely feel like we had a fast car.”

Brandon Jones finished sixth, followed by Briscoe, John Hunter Nemechek, Jeb Burton and Justin Haley completed the top 10. Reddick increased his series lead to 89 points over Bell in second.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race Results LTi Printing 250
Michigan International Speedway
Brooklyn, Michigan
Saturday, June 8, 2019

1. (10)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 125.

2. (4)  Noah Gragson #, Chevrolet, 125.

3. (7)  Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 125.

4. (1)  Paul Menard(i), Ford, 125.

5. (12)  Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 125.

6. (3)  Brandon Jones #, Toyota, 125.

7. (14)  Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 125.

8. (8)  John Hunter Nemechek, Chevrolet, 125.

9. (11)  Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 125.

10. (13)  Justin Haley #, Chevrolet, 125.

11. (5)  Austin Cindric, Ford, 125.

12. (6)  Cole Custer, Ford, 125.

13. (2)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 125.

14. (15)  Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 125.

15. (17)  Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 125.

16. (22)  Gray Gaulding, Chevrolet, 125.

17. (9)  Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 124.

18. (21)  Tommy Joe Martins, Toyota, 124.

19. (23)  BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 124.

20. (32)  Stephen Leicht, Chevrolet, 124.

21. (20)  Josh Bilicki, Chevrolet, 124.

22. (28)  Chad Finchum, Toyota, 124.

23. (29)  Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 124.

24. (18)  Matt Mills, Chevrolet, 124.

25. (35)  David Starr, Chevrolet, 124.

26. (25)  Brandon Brown #, Chevrolet, 124.

27. (38)  Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 123.

28. (37)  Vinnie Miller, Chevrolet, 123.

29. (36)  Joey Gase, Toyota, Engine, 64.

30. (34)  Ray Black II, Chevrolet, Accident, 51.

31. (33)  Timmy Hill, Toyota, Vibration, 42.

32. (16)  Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, Vibration, 40.

33. (31)  Bayley Currey(i), Chevrolet, Vibration, 36.

34. (24)  Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, Alternator, 29.

35. (27)  Tyler Hill(i), Toyota, Engine, 17.

36. (26)  Jeff Green, Chevrolet, Vibration, 17.

37. (30)  Riley Herbst, Toyota, Accident, 12.

38. (19)  Dillon Bassett, Chevrolet, Accident, 8.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  133.353 mph.

Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 52 Mins, 29 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.515 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  6 for 29 laps.

Lead Changes:  5 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   P. Menard(i) 1-33;B. Currey(i) 34-35;P. Menard(i) 36-58;C. Bell 59-94;C. Custer 95-114;T. Reddick 115-125.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Paul Menard(i) 2 times for 56 laps; Christopher Bell 1 time for 36 laps; Cole Custer 1 time for 20 laps; Tyler Reddick 1 time for 11 laps; Bayley Currey(i) 1 time for 2 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 00,1,11,12,2,20,22,23,7,9

Stage #2 Top Ten: 00,1,11,12,19,2,20,23,7,9

Greg Engle