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NASCAR Xfinity: Tyler Reddick plays playoff spoiler at Kentucky

Tyler Reddick celebrates his first-career NASCAR Xfinity Series win in the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

Tyler Reddick celebrates his first-career NASCAR Xfinity Series win in the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

By AMANDA VINCENT

With the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers in New Hampshire for the weekend and experienced Cup Series drivers banned from NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff drivers, Tyler Reddick climbed into the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet he’s shared with Cup driver Kyle Larson this season for Saturday night’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300, the first 2017 Xfinity Series playoff race, at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Not only did Reddick claim his first-career series win, he also led his first laps in an Xfinity Series race in his 15th-career start in the series.

“I don’t know if it was necessarily me making a statement; it was just Chip Ganassi Racing making a statement,” Reddick said. “Me and Brennan (Poole) were really fast all night.”

Reddick took the lead from Ryan Preece, another part-time driver, on lap 126 and was back up front after a green-flag cycle of pit stops in the final 60 laps of the 200 lap race to finish the race over seconds ahead of second-place finisher Brennan Poole, Reddick’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate.

“We had a really fast car last weekend; our mile-and-a-half program has been unreal,” Reddick said. “Mike Shiplett (crew chief) brought me from ground zero all the way to here. All the guys at Ganassi have gone above and beyond in helping me become a better driver.”

As the runner-up finisher, Poole was the highest-finishing Xfinity Series regular and playoff driver.

“I just think it was a strong statement tonight,” Poole said. “I’m proud of our Ganassi team coming up one-two. This is really a track that we have struggled at in the past. To come out and be strong in the first race of the playoffs is pretty awesome. I want to thank everyone who has put effort into this thing. It’s really showed off the past couple of months. We’ve been really consistent and been right there. A win’s coming for us.”

Another playoff competitor, Justin Allgaier, finished third after being two laps down early in the race after an unscheduled pit stop for a right-front tire problem before lap 20.

“My team at JR Motorsports, obviously, does a great job,” Allgaier said. “We talked about not beating ourselves in the first playoff race. It was unfortunate, there, getting a flat tire. It wasn’t in our control. We did what we had to do and persevered through it, and we did a great job on pit calls and pit stops. I thought we had a car that, maybe, could win the race. After the race, I told my team we might not have won the playoffs tonight, but we definitely salvaged what we needed to tonight to move ourselves forward.”

Cole Custer won both of the 45-lap stages that comprised the first 90 laps of the race.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates and part-time Xfinity drivers Kyle Benjamin and Preece started on the front row. Custer got up to second at the green flag, and on lap 41, he took the lead from Benjamin.

Benjamin was back up front for the start of the second stage, courtesy of a two-tire pit stop between the first two stages. But when the race restarted for stage two, Custer retook the lead.

The yellow flag waved only once for an on-track incident — ion lap 74 for an Angela Ruch spin. With only 16 laps remaining in the second stage, several drivers pitted, planning to stay out when the yellow flag would wave again at the lap-90 conclusion to stage two.

The frontrunners, though, stayed out, waiting until the end of the stage to pit. When the second stage ended and the frontrunners pitted, Elliott Sadler moved into the top spot for the restart, with Preece alongside on the front row. Preece  took the lead from Sadler on lap 104.

Preece and Custer rounded out the top-five at the checkered flag. Finishing sixth through 10th were Sadler, Daniel Hemric, Brian Scott, Matt Tifft and Ryan Reed.

Five of the 12 playoff drivers finished outside the top-10, with Jeremy Clements being the worst finisher of the group in 22nd. The season wins leader, William Byron, wound up just inside the top-20 in 18th as the result of an extra pit stop for a loose wheel just past the halfway point of the race.

Other playoff drivers outside of the top-10 at the finish of Saturday’s race were Brendan Gaughan in 14th, Michael Annett in 16th and Blake Koch in 17th.

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on September 24, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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