He may be eliminated from the playoffs, but that didn’t stop Tyler Reddick from going for the win at Texas. The RCR driver held on and thankfully, the tires did as well, beating Joey Logano to the checkered flag in a high-attrition race.
In a race slowed by 16 cautions and even a red flag, there was no clear favorite. For Reddick, he’s now won three races this season. Only Chase Elliott has won more races.
“I was extremely worried (about the tires), I’m not going to lie,” said Reddick. “Unfortunately, just about every time we’ve had fast cars, we’ve had some tire problems. Yeah, that last run the right sides were vibrating really, really hard there.
“I was just trying to maximize and use the gap that I built over Joey just in case. I mean, every time we’ve had a strong car, we’ve been bit by something, man. Just really proud to be able to get this Lenovo Chevy to Victory Lane. We were at Auto Club earlier this year, so fast with this car. They deserve to go to get to Victory Lane. We got them there.”
Keselowski started from pole position. He briefly battled Logano for the lead before clearing him and setting sail.
Wallace had an unscheduled pit stop in the early running. Meanwhile, Keselowski led the first 30 laps before slipping up the track in Turn 1, falling back to third.
A few laps later, the first caution flag waved for the spinning No. 19 Toyota of Martin Truex Jr.
Byron got the lead on pit road, taking the top spot from Logano with a faster stop. Keselowski was caught speeding and was forced to restart from the back of the field.
Kyle Busch then crashed, becoming the first driver to fall out of the race. It’s been a season to forget for the outgoing JGR driver.
“Just was getting a little closer to the No. 11 (Hamlin) and knew if I tracked him – followed him in the lower groove, then I would lose ground,” he said after being released from the infield care center. “So I went to the high groove where I was making time in the sticky stuff, (but) it’s not so sticky sometimes apparently.
He then added: “Bananas peels out there. Too many conditions that you got to be smarter about. I guess I wasn’t very smart.”
The cautions kept coming as Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spun through the infield. Later on, playoff driver Christopher Bell cut down a right-rear tire and spun. Cole Custer spun as well with a flat around the same time, hitting the wall and falling out of the race.
On the run that followed, an intense battle for the race lead broke out. Byron slid up and Hamlin took control. He was then challenged by Reddick, but Larson managed to pass them both and take the lead for himself.
Near the end of the stage, another playoff driver found trouble. Alex Bowman’s car snapped around and he hit the wall, rejoining the race wounded and several laps down.
While many drivers took the opportunity to pit, a handful stayed out to try and steal some stage points.
A three-lap dash to the finish culminated with contact between Larson and Hamlin in the battle for the stage win. They got away with it but Hamlin warned, “I’m not lifting on the next one.”
Stenhouse didn’t pit during the stage break and was now leading McDowell. Those who stayed out for stage points were now mostly all outside the top-20.
Harrison Burton was able to take command in the famed Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford and led until the next caution. Bell spun again due to another cut tire, this time slamming the outside wall. The team was unable to repair the car in time and were forced out of the race.
Elliott won the race off pit road, followed by Chastain with a two-tire call. Behind them, Burton had a disastrous pit stop with a fire igniting in the stall.
Later in the run, there was a scary moment for Cody Ware, who crashed heavily into the outside wall. He then shot down the track and into the pit wall. Emerging from the car gingerly, he was taken via ambulance to the infield care center. He was treated and later released.
During that same yellow, Chastain led a group of drivers down pit road for fuel and fresh rubber while Elliott stayed out. Larson was forced to pit twice during the yellow-flag period.
The next victim of attrition was Elliott himself, who blew a tire while leading and slammed the outside wall. He quickly climbed from the car, which was now in flames.
“The tire blew apart, that’s why I crashed,” explained Elliott. “Something came apart, I could hear it flapping in the right-rear fender well. If it wasn’t down, it was certainly coming apart.
Of his title hopes, he added: “It’s not a great position to be in for sure, it is what it is now. We were actually decent here for once, that was nice while it lasted. We’ll go to Talladega and try to survive and get a win down the road.”
The tenth caution flew for a half-spin by Buescher, who did a fine job recovering the car.
Blaney went on to win the second stage ahead of Chastain, Byron, Keselowski, Suarez, A. Dillon, Cindric, Logano, Truex, and McDowell.
Larson with a fuel-only call and Logano with a two-tire call won the race off pit road. But they would be mid-pack as about a dozen cars stayed out, led by McDowell and Jones.
However, a small cell came over the track and raindrops delayed the restart. Despite blue skies, the race was red-flagged and then put on a 30-minute hold due to lightning in the area.
The race resumed with 11 laps to go. Jones got into the wall battling McDowell for the race lead. Soon after, Reddick moved into the lead.
The next caution was Chris Buescher, who crashed with a flat tire while running third. Reddick took the chance to pit.
Kevin Harvick was among 11 drivers who stayed out. He led the race until he too lost a right-rear tire, impacting the outside wall.
Truex took the race lead, but a similar fate would befall him as well. He cut a right-rear and crashed, ending his hopes of a victory.
Under yellow, Byron spun Hamlin in retaliation for earlier contact. Hamlin then harassed Byron under yellow, promising to get him back via the radio.
Stenhouse, Todd Gilliland and Chase Briscoe were the only drivers who stayed out. Reddick quickly cut through them and took the lead.
The 15th caution flew as Stenhouse and Cindric spun out of Turn 2. The 16th and final caution was displayed for a spin by Aric Almirola.
Reddick was nervous the tires wouldn’t last, but he was able to hang on and take the race win with a green-flag run to the checkered flag.