Speedway Digest Staff
Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest
· The win is Tyler Reddick’s first career victory in 92 NASCAR Cup Series starts.
· It also marks the 110th NASCAR Cup Series triumph for Richard Childress Racing.
· Reddick’s victory marks Chevrolet’s ninth-consecutive NASCAR Cup Series road course win.. a streak that started at Circuit of The Americas in May 2021.
· Reddick is now the 13th different NASCAR Cup Series winner thus far this season, seven of which are Chevrolet drivers.
· Chevrolet drivers swept the top-five finishing positions, led by Reddick, Chase Elliott (2nd), Kyle Larson (3rd), Ross Chastain (4th) and Daniel Suarez (5th).
· The victory moved Chevrolet to double-digit wins on the season, marking the Camaro ZL1’s 10th NASCAR Cup Series win of 2022.
· The winningest brand in NASCAR, Chevrolet now has 824 all-time NASCAR Cup Series victories.
TYLER REDDICK, NO. 8 3CHI CAMARO ZL1, Race Winner Quick Quote:
Q. The two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion is now a Cup Series winner. So cool to see all these drivers coming back to congratulate him, including Brad Keselowski, who used to be his boss. What were you thinking as you were racing Chase Elliott there for the lead and eventually what wound up being the win?
“Well, I definitely knew he (Chase Elliott) was fast, but we could stay with him on the long run. That told me if we cycled through that last pit sequence, we'd be close or get around him, and we'd have a great shot. Didn't quite get around him.. we were within reach. Thankfully we just waited for the right opportunity and was able to take advantage of it in Turn 6.
I thought he was going to run me back down. I started to make some mistakes and started to take care of the brakes; apparently I didn't need to. Yeah, very good shape there. What a day.
Q. I want to know the significance for you personally. We talked earlier this week, you said we've got to put together the last 10 percent of a race. You did that today. Did you sense the playoff pressure, that hey, our season is on the line, we've got to get it done today?
“We had to. What better place than Road America? I love the fans. I love this racetrack. Being here on 4th of July weekend is just so special. And just a huge shout out to 3Chi and the special paint scheme we had this weekend. Love that they're coming on board this year and taking a chance on a young guy like me and we got it done. We won a race.”
Q. Not only is it the first win for you, Randall Burnett; and now RCR is in the playoffs, as well.
“Randall (Burnett, Crew Chief) has been working at this for a very long time and he's always believed in me. Everyone on this team at Richard Childress Racing has believed in me. I've made a lot of mistakes along the way; but man, this year has been one step, one mistake away from greatness all year long, and we finally did it today. It feels good.”
Brad Keselowski, in his No. 6 Kohler Generators Mustang, was on pace for a solid afternoon at Road America, but issues midway through the race set him off the pace as he ultimately finished 33rd.
Following a promising qualifying session Saturday of P11, Keselowski powered his Mustang through the first stage cleanly, short-pitting on lap 12 to earn track position for the following two stages. He would finish stage one P25.
The No. 6 Ford started stage two in 12th. Keselowski was able to hold steady at the front of the field, only losing one spot during green flag laps. On lap 27, both RFK cars would short-pit again for track position. After a solid stop, Keselowski was penalized for driving through too many boxes and would start stage three at the rear of the field.
The afternoon would not get easier for the 2012 NASCAR Cup series champion after an on-track incident left him with severe damage to the right front of his Kohler Generators Ford. The No. 6 team was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop on lap 39, and multiple stops in the laps following, for repairs. Keselowski went on to finish the race 33rd.
The Cup Series continues the road to the playoffs next Sunday for its return to Atlanta Motor Speedway. Race coverage is set for 3 p.m. ET on USA Network, and can also be heard on PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Chris Buescher scored his fifth top-10 of the season and second-straight on a road course, driving to a sixth-place run in the Fastenal Ford Mustang Sunday afternoon at Road America.
“I am proud of the effort of everybody through this week,” Buescher said. “We had a lot of speed off the truck again. We are just looking for a little bit more. It is a good thing to be running up front and be that close and try and find a squeak more of speed. It’s so tight up here and that is a good thing. We are going to stay after it and we’ll be ready for the next one.”
The 62-lap race ran caution free – minus stage breaks – as Buescher had a solid view to start the day, rolling off seventh thanks to a qualifying effort on Saturday that saw him notch his fifth top-10 start of the season.
With the opening two stages set for 15 laps, and the final at 32, similar strategies were employed through the first half of the race. Crew chief Scott Graves called Buescher to pit road early at the end of both stages, short-pitting the break to set up track position for the ensuing stage restarts.
That strategy paid off to close the first stage as he finished the green-checkered 15 laps in 17th, then restarted sixth. He would pit again at lap 27, just prior to the stage two end, and went on to restart 17th.
From there, just one green-flag stop separated the field from the checkered flag, as Buescher’s came at lap 42. He went on to pick off multiple positions in the closing laps to secure the top-10.
The Cup Series returns to action next weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Race coverage Sunday afternoon is set for 3 p.m. ET on USA Network, and can also be heard on PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Gold Fish Casino Slots Camaro ZL1
Stage 1 Finish: 34th
Stage 2 Finish: 26th
“Overall, it was a hard-fought day. We definitely didn't have the speed we wanted all weekend. We had some pit road trouble, but we fought hard to maximize everything we could. We just needed to be better overall. Despite everything, we had a solid day and finished in the top 10, which is about as good as I could ask for for the way the weekend was going.”
- AJ Allmendinger
Justin Haley, No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Camaro ZL1
Stage 1 Finish: 9th
Stage 2 Finish: 6th
"We didn’t finish where we would have liked to at Road America, but we did have some great stage points. It was shaping up to be a solid day, but we had a pit road issue during a green-flag stop which set us back a bit. Overall, we learned quite a bit."
- Justin Haley
AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet
Stage 1 Finish: 9th
Stage 2 Finish: 24th
“It was a disappointing day. The speeding penalty just added a little bit of insult to injury, but we finished about where we should have. I’m proud of everybody on this No. 16 Nutrien Ag Solutions team. We've worked hard to try to make it better, but honestly, we just needed everything we could possibly get. It was okay for a lap or two, but the tires went away pretty quickly. Bruce (Schlicker) and everybody did what they could to try to make it better, but we just missed it.”
- AJ Allmendinger
Daniel Hemric, No. 11 AG1 Chevrolet
Stage 1 Finish: 13th
Stage 2 Finish: 27th
"Road America is a race track that I love. I loved the challenge of this weekend, and it was definitely that. We unloaded with decent short-run speed but the driver made too many mistakes in qualifying that set us back. The guys on this No. 11 AG1 team tried to come up with the best strategy possible, but unfortunately, we found ourselves behind the hornets nest and just got mixed up in other peoples’ issues, resulting in damage at the end of the race. I’m disappointed, but we will carry on to Atlanta next week."
- Daniel Hemric
Landon Cassill, No. 10 Voyager Chevrolet
Stage 1 Finish: 27th
Stage 2 Finish: 29th
"“Really frustrating end to our day with a wreck in front of us in the middle of the straightaway. It’s just hard to miss that kind of wreck. I always try to think of something I could have tried differently, but I didn’t know what was ahead of them. The track was blocked, and I had to slam on the brakes but couldn’t avoid it.”
- Landon Cassill
Kaulig Racing PR
Coming so close to his first career NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) win on several different occasions, Tyler Reddick was finally able to accomplish that feat after powering his No. 8 3CHI Camaro ZL1 to victory lane in the Kwik Trip 250 presented by JOCKEY Made in America at Road America. The 26-year-old California native became the 13th different winner of 2022 in NASCAR’s premier series and the most recent driver to secure a Playoff berth.
The No. 8 3CHI Camaro ZL1 team showcased their speed throughout the weekend, taking the green flap from the fourth-starting position. Pit strategy from atop the box; a strong performance on pit road; and smart driving behind the wheel put the No. 8 3CHI Camaro ZL1 in position to start the race’s final stage on the front row. Consistently cutting down the gap between him and then race leader Chase Elliott in the closing laps, Reddick was able to make the winning pass on lap 47 and leading the final 16 laps en route to the checkered flag and the monumental win. It was not only a special moment in Reddick’s career, but also for Richard Childress Racing’s Randall Burnett, who is now a winning crew chief in the NASCAR Cup Series for the first time.
“Randall (Burnett, Crew Chief) has been working at this for a very long time and he's always believed in me,” said Reddick. “Everyone on this team at Richard Childress Racing has believed in me. I've made a lot of mistakes along the way; but man, this year has been one step, one mistake away from greatness all year long. We finally did it today. It feels good.”
Reddick’s victory at the 14-turn, 4.048-mile Wisconsin circuit kept the road course win streak alive for the bowtie brand. Chevrolet leaves Road America with nine-consecutive road course victories.. a feat that dates back to Chase Elliott’s victory at Circuit of The Americas in May 2021. The Camaro ZL1 has also hit a double-digit win count for 2022, with Chevrolet sitting at a manufacturer-leading 10 wins in 18 points-paying races. Reddick is now the seventh different Chevrolet driver to have recorded a win and a Playoff berth with just eight races left in the NCS regular season.
Reddick’s win was celebrated by a strong bowtie brigade right behind him, with Chevrolet drivers performing a sweep of the top-five finishing positions. A notable road course favorite, Chase Elliott scored top-10 finishes and Playoff points in both stages, going on to lead a race-high 36 laps to take the checkered flag in the runner-up position for his 12th top-10 finish of 2022. Reigning NASCAR Cup Series Champion Kyle Larson drove his No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL1 to a third-place finish, giving Larson his eighth top-five finish of 2022. Trackhouse Racing, who won the first two road course races of the season, continued to show their strength in road course-style racing. Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez drove their Chevrolet-powered machines to fourth and fifth-place finishes, respectively, to round out the Team Chevy top-five sweep.
The NASCAR Cup Series season continues next Sunday, July 10, at Atlanta Motor Speedway with the Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart at 3 p.m. ET. Live coverage can be found on USA Network, the NBCSports Gold App, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
TYLER REDDICK, NO. 8 3CHI CAMARO ZL1 – Press Conference Transcript:
THE MODERATOR: We're going to continue to roll with our post-race press conference here at Road America for today's QuikTrip 250 presented by Jockey. Here with now our race winner Tyler Reddick, who we could call the man of the hour, but I think it's been a little bit more than an hour now. Congratulations, Tyler.
We know this one has been a long time coming but one specifically your team has been searching for and hoping for many races, but especially this year after a lot of runner-up finishes in different situations with kind of heartbreak finishes there at the end. Tell us what it felt like to not only win today but be able to come off that final turn and see the checkered flag and know what that felt like for you inside the car, as well.
TYLER REDDICK: It was just a huge sense of relief. This whole team, we've been at it for a couple years now together, and even some of us back to the Xfinity Series days. That first year together in the Xfinity Series we were able to go out and back up a championship and win a lot of races.
Then we got slapped in the face with the reality of what Cup racing is like, and just I've had to learn a lot over the course of these last three years in the Cup Series as a driver, but I've had some really great people behind me to help me do that, whether that was my crew chief, Josh Wise, Curtis Walls, just a lot of great people getting a lot of time at Chevrolet in the simulator to work on my driving style and just my habits, my mistakes, whatever it might be.
A lot of great people have helped an immense amount along the way, and it's just -- what a crazy ride it's been, and just had to put a lot into it. All of us have. It's really nice to get it finally done.
Q. To beat Chase Elliott on a road course, how much more special does that even make this one?
TYLER REDDICK: I mean, it certainly does. He's been the guy that's won more road courses over the last couple years than anybody, and then you look at who was behind him in Kyle Larson and Ross Chastain, guys that have been really good on road courses, and we've been right there with them a lot of the time over the last I'd say two years, it's just sometimes our agendas have been different.
When we were here last year we were going to go after points and we had to stay out. It was nice to get those stage wins and stage points, but it really put a dampener on us being able to go out and battle with guys like Chase who won this race last year and some of those guys that were able to really battle up at the front at the end of these road course races.
It was kind of nice in some way to be in the spot where we were where points really weren't going to matter that much over the next 10 races. We knew we needed to go out there and win. To kind of just put points aside and put the whole day together like we did and not make the big mistakes and just all day long, it was nice to be coming off pit road right there off the bumper of the 9 car and just me and him go at it and may the best team win, and thankfully it was us today.
Q. Tyler, what was the last lap like for you? Also, has anyone told you that Austin Dillon had a mechanical problem?
TYLER REDDICK: Yeah, I finally heard about that. I think Richard is the first one that told me actually. That was crazy. But I'm glad it didn't bring a caution out for sure. But hey, I would have been ready for it, honestly.
Q. What was the last couple of laps like for you?
TYLER REDDICK: You know, the last five were pretty nice. I'd say from that 10 to 5 range when Chase was kind of closing back in and right there, I was kind of searching within myself what I needed to be doing, that was probably the most stressful part, because I could kind of get away, he would close back in, and I was kind of worried about my brakes fading late, and they kind of would, late in a tire run.
But up until that point in the tire run late, I had been behind somebody else or I'd been on the bumper of another guy, whatever it would be, kind of in dirty air, warmer air, more turbulent air, and that definitely has a factor on -- plays a factor in how your tire temperatures would be, your brake temperatures would be, even your engine temperatures would be.
Being in front, I kind of was playing it a little too safe, honestly, and I realized that my brakes and my car was good and I could push a little harder in the braking zones again, and that allowed me to get out to a comfortable distance. The last five laps were pretty stress free. It was really nice to know that I had that much left in the tank in the car to be able to hold him off and have that gap and then manage it.
Q. Would you have ever expected that your first win would come on a road course?
TYLER REDDICK: Sounds crazy but I honestly thought that's where the first one would come. Last year, honestly. I thought last year it would come here. We had good speed at COTA last year. The rain coming in really kind of was something I wasn't expecting. We got the pole there in the dry there at COTA and then it was just a downpour all day on that Sunday a year ago. It was really disheartening for me because I had a lot yet to learn in damp conditions.
Then the other road courses that we got to, when we came here last year and then Indy we were having to go for points and not just the win.
I felt good about our road courses where we were with the last car, and then when we had the Charlotte Roval test in like October or whatever it was, we were really strong, so I felt really good about our chances this year on road courses, too.
Q. Richard Childress had said this morning he had told you that he thought you were going to win today. I don't know what y'all's pre-race routine normally is, if that's something that happens a lot, or what your reaction was when you got those words from him earlier today.
TYLER REDDICK: He's always had a lot of confidence in me, but it seems like a place like this, and it was obvious last year we had good speed, circumstances just kind of played its part. A lot of the road courses this year, even COTA we ran up at the front and led late, and I thought COTA honestly from the drop of the green we missed it. We weren't as good as we should have been.
The whole team knew that, unfortunately.
But today was a different story. We unloaded in practice, we were strong, and in qualifying we were strong. Just as the race was unfolding we were in a lot of dirty air for the most part and we were able to stay close where other cars would kind of drop off after five, six laps, we could stay right there. That told me we had a great car.
I guess anyways, yes, he had a lot of confidence coming into the day. I had a lot of confidence in the car. I was just stressed and worried about how the race would play out, if we'd have any hiccups, but thankfully we didn't and things went our way.
Q. You've had so many races where you've been in striking distance, on the verge of winning. How have the close calls toughened you as a driver or what kind of impact has that had?
TYLER REDDICK: Yeah, it was a good impact, knowing that in those days where we ran second, there was one or two things that happened that weren't good for us, that could have been avoided or could have been different where we could have maybe had another spot -- could have changed the outcome of a race where we ended up second but we could have been ahead of that guy that won the race at some point in that race if a mistake didn't take place.
Knowing that we'd been that close with the minor mistakes that we have had along the way, we've been so close to just having a mistake-free race a number of times that I know we're capable of it, and it was great to see it play out today where we didn't make those huge mistakes and everything went right.
Q. Tyler, I know this has been a long time coming. I heard your interview with Winston and you said coming here as a Xfinity driver, this changed your career, and you didn't even -- you questioned whether you were man enough to continue as a race car driver because this really tested what you had. I'm just kind of curious, to feel that way four years ago and then to come back and for this to be the place, it's got to hold a special place in your heart.
TYLER REDDICK: It does, because I remember coming here in the 9 car, and I can pretty much run you through the day. We were junk in practice. It was kind of misting out, and I ran my couple laps that I needed to as a rookie, and I'm coming down the back straightaway, and pretty much halfway down the back straightaway, I put it in neutral, I'm just kind of going to coast it back to pit road, and just being the space cadet that I am, I didn't realize I was going way too fast, no engine braking to slow me down, and I just plowed it off into the sand trap off Canada Corner coming in for the laps that I had to make as a rookie and just created a disaster of a day for my whole team.
Then we go out there in qualifying and we're about a 30th place car, and Dave wants me to go out there, Dave Elenz, and wants me to go out there and rerun, and I'm like, I'm going to wreck this thing if I go out there and rerun because I truthfully was going to. I was that far off.
It was just a nightmare of a day. I think I had missed a shift and pretty much put a hole in the rear end cover, and we lost all the grease, the gear grease out of our rear end and slung the axle out of the thing. It was just a disaster of a day. I was just so far off here four years ago that it just had me really questioning if I had what it took.
We walked away from here, Dave really did a good job of getting me back to where I needed to be, and we went to Darlington that next week and we were great in practice. We had a really awesome throwback scheme with -- Tim Richmond throwback, Old Milwaukee on the car, and from that point on in that 9 car, things started to click.
It was about here that things could have went one of two ways. It could have went one way where I was pretty much giving up on the thought of -- I don't think I had it. But I had a lot of good people around me that believed in me, got me back where I needed to be, and from that point on, things have been a lot better. It's really crazy that this is the place I got my first win because this place four years ago had me questioning everything.
Q. When you first came in here, you said it's been a long, wild, crazy ride. I know everything is probably still spinning in your mind with everything that's happened the last hour and a half, but are things coming into focus of what that crazy ride is and what are the images or what are the things that come to mind when you say it's been one long crazy ride that starts to come out and illustrate that in this hour and a half since you've won?
TYLER REDDICK: It's starting to sink in. The nice thing about it is the hard work you put in is what you get out of it. For the last two years especially, I knew that road courses were a weakness for me, and when I say weakness, I mean we'd struggled around 30th, honestly.
To turn it around like we have and continue to put the work in and not just settle for good enough, I mean, a year and a half ago or so we rolled into the beginning of the year, we were way better, and that was great, but it wasn't good enough because we still didn't get the job done. We still didn't win. So we just kept plugging away at it.
It was really inspiring. It made me really look at the other racetracks I wasn't good at and try and figure out what I can do, what we can work on to get better, what are we missing, and it really opened up a part of my brain that I wasn't really even really prepared to use and just was able to not just get better at road courses, get better at the places like Loudon and Martinsville, the short tracks if you will, just the oddball tracks that I wasn't good at, just how do we get better. It was kind of a nice surprise that I could do it at the road courses and was able to kind of carry it and apply it to other places where I was struggling, too.
Q. Obviously it's a lot of things that probably helped you. Was there one particular thing? I know you've worked with Josh and he's had Scott Speed work with you guys. Was that part of the time when you kind of transitioned to being better on the road courses or were you doing that even before you were coming out working with Josh?
TYLER REDDICK: It was all kind of about the same time. Working with Scott and working with Josh has been very beneficial. I've been working with Curtis Walls since I was at Chip Ganassi Racing when he was there, and he's done a lot in really helping me and my mindset, as well. I've had a lot of really great people around me. Then obviously my whole team, going to the simulator at least once a week and working with my engineer Andrew Dickenson and working on stuff -- I think he's -- tire engineer does a lot of stuff at our shop, Byron Daley, he's really done simulator on what I need to do better and just opening my mind up and approaching a corner differently.
Just had a lot of great people that have been willing to put the time and effort in to help me get better, and it's all added up, everyone. You take one part of it out, one person out of the puzzle, we're not here sitting -- I'm not sitting here talking to you about winning this race today.
Q. Talking with Austin Cindric as he was walking up pit road to come and meet you, he said he was all excited, couldn't wait to see you, and you're one of the guys that he really likes and obviously I know you guys had your time at BKR and he says he's just a goofy, weird guy --
TYLER REDDICK: I am. He is, too.
Q. He goes, I'm the same way. What was it like to see him, and that was quite a hug that he gave you in Victory Lane.
TYLER REDDICK: Yeah, I really wanted to go see him after he won the Daytona 500, but I know how crazy and how busy it was. I just appreciate him coming over and seeing me because I wanted to come do the same thing for him when he won the 500, but I knew my whole team was going to be mad as they could get if they were waiting on me because I tried to go see him and whatever it was, so I appreciate him making the time to come see me.
But yeah, there's a lot of great people that I've been teammates with, been friends with. Austin is one of them. Ross Chastain is another, AJ Allmendinger, Brad Keselowski as a boss. I could go down the list. There's so many people that I've worked with at one time or another.
I know if Daniel Hemric was here he would have came and saw me. There's a lot of great people that have done a lot for me, have helped me a lot, and I really appreciate them coming and congratulating me and sharing the moment.
Q. That was quite a hug he gave you.
TYLER REDDICK: Well, and that's what he does. I've seen him give that hug to other people. I think he's given it to me before. That's his deal, he's a big bear hug, pick you off the ground. I don't weigh as heavy as I used to these days. I'm a little bit lighter, so it makes it a little easier for him.
Q. Are you someone that kind of pays attention to history? The first two road courses this year, first time winners. There have been five first-time winners out here in the Xfinity. Do you look at that and say, this is a shot for me?
TYLER REDDICK: Those details, no. But obviously I'm aware of it, but I don't think in a way it plays -- it wasn't a motivating factor for me because I know guys like Chase, guys like Kyle, Ross Chastain, it was no surprise that they were up there and battling for the win today.
So yeah, I mean, we have seen first-time winners happen here, but I knew the guys that are really, really good at maximizing the braking zone and really understand how to kind of piece all these corners together would be up front today, and they were.
It's great that I kind of added to that today, but I knew that I've been watching what they've been doing over the years, obviously with what Chase has been doing over the last couple years and then Kyle comes in with Hendrick and really does a good job on the road courses, and you've see Ross do the same thing this year. Been paying attention to what they're doing, and we've been trying to do a lot of the same things at RCR, and so it was nice to see it pay off and we were able to best them today.
Q. I think we were told it was a spotter that told you, don't look out your mirror, look out your windshield. How many times did you look out the rear view mirror? Did you listen?
TYLER REDDICK: Yeah, I was looking at my mirror, but it certainly affected me a couple times to the negative side. It hurt me a few times. But more than not it was a positive because I could kind of see where he was gaining, where Chase was gaining on me and where I was making gains on him, too.
Using the mirror to a point can help you but it can hurt you, and I kind of experienced both, but it was great to see once he was getting smaller and smaller that I was starting to do the right things and build that gap.
Q. I asked Randall this question: What is it about road course racing that tends to produce so many first-time winners? Like we mentioned the five in the Xfinity here and Ross and Daniel earlier this year. From a driver's perspective is there a rhyme or reason for that? Is that just luck or is there something more to it from your perspective?
TYLER REDDICK: No, I think you look back over the history of time, and 10 years ago you would say road course ringers come in here like AJ, like Marcos Ambrose, Juan Pablo Montoya, they come in here and just make us look like fools. I think that's because as drivers when we only had two of these races a year, we weren't really maximizing, we'd just kind of get to the road courses, kind of like I was a couple years ago, oh, we'll get through it. And you still see it to a point. A lot of the drivers have really done a great job of really figuring out road course racing and maximizing the whole lap and figuring out the braking zones, what they need in their car.
But still to a degree when you see a guy like Daniel go out there and win at Sonoma, you can still just find a whole new level, if you will, in your car and as a driver and just -- if you're on it one day, you're just going to be on it that day. Seeing him go out and win Sonoma the way he did, it wasn't surprising because I know that he's capable of that. That team is capable of that.
But over the last couple years, the drivers, the teams have really been honing in on it, but you still see days where someone just hits it, hits it really good, doesn't make the mistakes, executes their strategy and they win.
Q. The first couple of stages, Chase pulled out to about a five- or six-second lead by the end of the stage. What was the difference in the final stage? Was it merely track position? Did they make an adjustment to your car? What was the difference that allowed you to stay so close?
TYLER REDDICK: Yeah, I think it was just track position. I was behind Kyle and -- somebody else.
TYLER REDDICK: I don't think I was behind Chastain. I think it was Briscoe, yeah. I was behind those guys, and the more traffic you're in the more you're having to work to kind of stay in touch. Chase was able to -- most of the day get out front, have the clean air, manage the brakes, manage his tires pretty well, and just kind of as the race was progressing, I went from being fourth to third as Briscoe stayed out and took the stage points, so I got a spot there. Then was able to pass Kyle in Stage 2, and just -- I just kind of had to pass one car a stage and essentially the further we got, the closer we were.
Yeah, he would get that gap, but I think it was kind of a product of him having clean air the whole time and being able to manage his stuff very well where we were having to battle very hard to get around Chase or get around Kyle.
Q. Once you cleared him through 5 and 6 when you made the pass, were you surprised that he came back at you so hard right after that?
TYLER REDDICK: No, you know, we made a little bit of contact in Turn 6, so I didn't want to totally take away -- he was close enough, and I didn't know if he was upset about the contact or not. I didn't want to take his entire line away. I didn't want to shut the door on him getting a bump, getting me out in the grass, whatever it may be, so I kind of left him some air, if you will. I don't know if I should have done that or not.
But it gave him the run into Turn 8, and I knew that he was going to -- if I went to block him he was probably going to give me the bumper because we made contact earlier, so I left him the lane and just wanted to get through Turn 8 good enough to be at his right side going into the carousel, and thankfully I was, and from there I was able to kind of build a gap and manage it from there.
Q. I asked you like variation of this question back at Speedweeks at Daytona and I asked it because there were a lot of first-time winner last year. We had four coming into today. Over the last two years, seeing guys who had been around for a long time finally get their first win or guys who hadn't been here very long get their first win, and it kind of seemed like you were the only guy still waiting who's been around a while, seeing those guys click those off one after another, after a while did that get to you on any level, that it was like just you left?
TYLER REDDICK: No, no, because it was very obvious that they would go out there and have those days where they just executed all day long. They'd have a good car. They wouldn't make the critical mistakes that you can't afford to make, and they would be in position to capitalize at the end of the race.
I knew if they can do it, we can do it. So if anything it was probably motivating and encouraging. It wasn't demoralizing by any means.
Q. I want to say you had five runner-up finishes before today. What type of person were you those nights after those runner-up finishes? Were you miserable? Would you not have wanted to be around you? How did you react to those?
TYLER REDDICK: I'd say I was pretty miserable, yeah. I don't think Alexa enjoyed being around me when I'd run second place. Yeah, second place isn't a bad place to finish. But we're here to win races. We're here to get those five playoff points. We're here to get into the playoffs.
For me when we run second, the smallest little things over the course of the day, whether it was in Stage 1, the opening laps, Stage 2, whatever it was, one thing could have changed the outcome of that second place. It could have made it a win.
For me, it was very frustrating because I know that there were little things that I did in the race that I could have done better that could have changed that.
Q. So do you obsess over those things? Do you watch it over and over?
TYLER REDDICK: No, I don't obsess, but I go back and I look at it and I realize there were things I could have done differently. Then I try to learn from it and apply it going forward so I don't make those mistakes. Just like yesterday, I drove through -- if I didn't do the Xfinity race yesterday, if I didn't get in that massive pile-up, whatever it was, I wouldn't have learned that I drove through too many boxes leaving unfortunately in the 48 car. I may have made that mistake today. I'm glad I'm getting to get these extra reps in an Xfinity car and learn from those little mistakes that I may make.
Q. You knew right away that you had five before this when it came to runner-up finishes. Is that something that sticks with you where you can list them off and remember how each one played out?
TYLER REDDICK: Well, I can't necessarily list them off, but you hear enough about it on TV, that whether it's -- when you go back and watch a race and try to pick up on some information, whatever it is, it gets talked about. I mean, I'm aware of it, but again, it may be in the heat of the moment, the night after or when you go to bed that night from a second-place finish, yeah, it eats away at you a little bit, but again, I try and look at it, how can I learn from this, how can I learn from Bristol.
Yeah, I got wrecked, but I had a gap and I let him run me back down and get there. I gave him an opportunity. I look at Darlington, I could have done a better job on that restart. I could have had a run on Joey and William, but I kind of got messed up myself.
There's a lot of things I could have done differently over those five second-place finishes I had to where I could have won the race, so I try to look back at that and learn from it. So hopefully when I'm in a position to win a race again, I don't make those same mistakes.
Q. You gave your friend Antonio a shout-out right away. Does he know you're coming in hot? Does he know you're coming to crash the party?
TYLER REDDICK: I feel like he probably has an idea now, yeah. I still haven't looked at my phone, but he told me before I left and came over here that he's going to have a lot of people over for the 4th of July on Sunday and on Monday and that you and Alexa, Bo, everyone can come over and have fun. Normally like last year we would get in late enough that the party is kind of calmed down but they'd want us to come over anyways and they would feed us, we'd eat the leftovers, whatever it is, and we'd help them clean up after it's all said and done.
Q. Now it's going to get a full restock?
TYLER REDDICK: We'll see. I know that they're really excited. I kind of crashed their vow renewals on the off weekend when they were doing that in downtown Mooresville, so I had a lot of fun doing that. They always like it when we kind of crash their party.
Q. This wasn't just your first Cup win, this was Randall's first Cup win. Afterwards you walked down pit road and he got congratulations from a lot of people who were finally happy to see him get it. What did it mean for you that you get to share this moment in the same kind of capacity?
TYLER REDDICK: Well, I mean, it means a lot because I know we both really wanted it. There's a lot of people on our team that really wanted that win. There's a number of people on our team that haven't won in a long time or haven't won ever. They've decided to stick it out with me because they believe in me and they know that we can get it done, and it means a lot to be able to give those their reward that they've been wanting, that they've been holding out for.
THE MODERATOR: BKR Racing, the legacy of that team, yet another winner in Victory Lane. What's it say about the legacy of that team when you see guys like Chase Briscoe and yourself making it to Victory Lane this year, Austin Cindric?
TYLER REDDICK: Yeah, I think it's four out of the five first-time winners were all BKR graduates. Yeah, Brad, Jeremy Thompson, they had a vision. They just saw it in their drivers. Me and Jimmy, we're old BKR boys. We come from the same place. That's also really cool for me. I've got Jimmy back here helping me keep me in check, and we go out here and win our first race together. That's also really cool.
Brad just -- Brad had a vision but there was also something about that place that was really special. There was a lot of great people. They all loved to be there. It was a tight knit family. Just we worked really hard there at BKR, and everyone I know that's ever drove there really loved being there.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations again on your first NASCAR Cup Series, I'm sure it won't be your last, and good luck next week in Atlanta.
RANDALL BURNETT, CREW CHIEF, NO. 8 3CHI CAMARO ZL1; AND RICHARD CHILDRESS, OWNER OF RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING – Press Conference Transcript:
THE MODERATOR: We're going to roll into our post-race coverage here for today's QuikTrip 250 presented by Jockey here at Road America. We've now been joined by Randall Burnett, who's the race-winning crew chief. Randall, you guys have been looking for this win or hoping for this win I should say for quite some time. What does it mean to be able to know that you guys have won this race but have also put yourself in position in the playoffs, as well?
RANDALL BURNETT: Well, I think it's a pretty big deal for us, RCR, everybody at ECR, to finally get that win for Tyler. He's worked really hard, especially at these road course tracks, to do everything he can to make himself the best he can be on these places, and it showed today. He went toe-to-toe with Chase, which is arguably one of the best road course racers we've got, and came out on top. I think that shows how much work and effort he's put into it, and just really happy we gave him a car that he could go out and run with him.
Q. I was curious about that last pit stop because you said that you told the crew if they saw any indication that 9 was going in you guys were going to follow him. Because we're down here and you guys were up there, the way the camera looked, it looked like Chase almost cut you guys off. I'm kind of wondering what that moment was like. We really didn't have a good view of it from in here.
RANDALL BURNETT: Yeah, so we both didn't have the greatest stops at the end of the race. Our guys, we closed the gap on him a little bit coming off pit road. I told Derek a few laps before that we were within our window, and if we saw the 9 come to pit road, we need to at least come with him.
We were talking about trying to maybe short pit him a lap but didn't want to put ourselves right up against the window, too, in case a caution would come out. We had a big enough cushion and we were close enough to Chase to see what he was going to do, so it just kind of worked out a bunch of them had peeled off the lap before, and I think that kind of forced both ours and the 9's hand to be like, okay, now we're in the window, we've got a lap on fuel on almost everybody else that's already pitted, it's time to get in here and do it.
Like we said, we followed them down, and we got the jump out of the pit box and kind of got out, and it looked like Chase was kind of a little slow getting out of his box and tried to get out in front of him. It was just a good race off pit road. That allowed us to close the gap up to him and put a little bit more pressure on him for sure towards the end of the race.
THE MODERATOR: Now we've also been joined by race winning owner here, Richard Childress. Richard, you've been a longtime supporter of Tyler, obviously bringing him on board at RCR several years ago but fighting for that first victory in the NASCAR Cup Series. What does it mean to know that that has been accomplished today?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It's great to see Tyler Reddick in the winner's circle. It wasn't a matter of if he was going to do it, it was when they were going to win. That's what we kept telling them. Had a couple of meetings, all of us, and talked about what it's going to take to get us in the winner's circle, and that's not beat yourself and be solid, and that's what these guys did today, and they did that.
When you beat Chase Elliott, you beat one of the best, and Hendrick's guys, hats off to them, they've got their four cars in, we've got one of ours. We've got one more to try to get in. So we're going to be a contender for the championship, right?
RANDALL BURNETT: Absolutely.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: That's the answer I wanted.
Q. We've all watched Tyler mature over the last three or four years, but I'm just curious, Richard, I can remember you all throughout your career, when you find a guy and you really light on to him, you can find talented drivers. I'm just wondering what was it specifically about Tyler that you said, I want to bring this guy in, I know I can build an organization around him?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: You know, I've watched Tyler since he was running the trucks. He struggled a little bit there, but he was always driving the trucks to their limit. Then when he got in the Xfinity at JR Motorsports, he was the same. He drove -- he's got so much talent, he just pushes that limit every week, and I knew between Randall and myself and talking with him, and I told him this morning, you're going to win this race, we just can't beat ourselves; be solid. I think I told y'all that on the radio when the race started.
I was just proud of what these guys have done and accomplished, and it's been a huge team effort, and to have our engines today out there running like they were, the HCD engines that Hendrick and I are working together to develop, it made me feel really good.
Q. Randall, would you have guessed that your first Cup win and Tyler's first Cup win would come on a road course?
RANDALL BURNETT: Well, not originally I wouldn't think that, but like I said, Tyler has worked really hard over the past couple years at these road courses. In 2019 on the Xfinity side, he was like, man, I hate road course racing; I'm not very good at it. He's pretty good at everything he does, so for him to say that, it was a little bit of a challenge. We came here and we ran really good in the Xfinity car.
So I was excited when they put this race on the schedule. This is a great place. It's a cool place to come for the 4th of July. I give Tyler a lot of the credit for success on the road course stuff. We've obviously got to put a good car underneath him, but he's went above and beyond on effort to get better at road course racing.
I think that's a nice little cherry on top for him to know that he's worked that hard to get as good as he has on these places, so I think it's pretty special for him to actually win on a road course for the first time.
Q. Earlier this year at Kansas he told me about when you were coming up through racing your brother labeled you with the nickname P2 for all the times you placed second. Now you're finally P1.
RANDALL BURNETT: Yeah, that's nice. I can finally go to my brother and tell him he can't call me P2 anymore. That comes from me racing late models and finishing runner-up all the time in the late model stock deal.
It's kind of funny, they labeled me that throughout the years, and of course we've finished second with Tyler I think five or six times now. They give me a lot of trouble for that, so it's finally really good to break that.
Q. Richard, you've come so close to that first win so many times, so many near misses. When a guy finally gets over the hump and gets that first win, how much weight can be lifted off his shoulders just in terms of future progress from that point forward?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, I think he said it well when he was talking about Tyler putting the effort in. He does work really hard at it. Both drivers work really hard. I was going to bring him over and talk to him like we did here, and just sit down and talk some. I knew this would be a good shot he had at winning this race, and he was over at the road course at Charlotte on the go-kart track practicing.
We talked a little bit up here this morning that we knew what we could do here to get it right.
As far as being nervous at the end of the race, four or five laps to go, I said, we just don't need a caution. Then with two to go I guess it was, the 3 blew a left front rotor coming into 5, and I said, here we go again, here's that caution. But he was able to get off and go straight and saved the day for us.
Q. Randy, obviously three road courses this year, three first-time winners. It's commonplace out here; I think three or four Xfinity winners out here have been first-time winners. Why do road courses seem to produce more first-time winners?
RANDALL BURNETT: That's a great question. I don't know that there's a specific reason for it. I think a lot of it's circumstantial, like how the cautions fall, hot your pit strategy falls. Today's race we obviously didn't have any cautions except the stage cautions, so it was pretty straightforward. I know we came in with a game plan that we felt like we were far enough out in points that if anybody else had won, we were going to be in a whole lot of trouble.
We came in and we elected not to take any stage points. We called the race aggressive to try to give ourselves track position. We said that. We said that in the truck. We all talked about it, and we're like, we came here to win, and that's what we're going to try to do today. We called the race that way.
I think Sonoma is the same way; the 99 did a similar thing there.
Obviously the race at COTA was pretty crazy at the end with Ross.
I don't know. I don't know why road courses produce a lot of first-time winners. I don't know. I enjoy road course racing. I like it. I think it's a lot of fun, especially with these Next-Gen cars. It's a lot of fun for these guys with big brakes and everything that we've got on these things.
Q. Randall, Richard kind of hit on it, but the hub failure by the 3, what was going through your mind when you saw a team car have that issue?
RANDALL BURNETT: Well, a lot of teams had saw some issue with some cracking in the rotors, this, that and the other. NASCAR allowed us to change rotors if we thought it necessary.
Everybody took a look at their rotors. I know the 3 had a little bit of problem with theirs. This place is a little tricky and we're still learning a lot about the braking system on these new cars. It's a little bit tricky in the fact that their straightaways are so long and at the end of the them there's such a high braking zone or high pressure on the brakes to get low down for the next corner, especially at like into 1, into 5 and into Canada Corner back there that it kind of shocks the rotors and sometimes you'll see when they have a big heat change at a rapid pace, they'll sometimes crack a little bit. We saw a little bit of that in practice.
I was a little bit surprised we didn't see a little bit more of that in the race actually.
Fortunately for ours, we looked pretty good in practice, and I wasn't overly worried about it, but there was definitely some teams that had some issues.
Q. Randall, when you talk about aggressive in terms of pit calling, I know your last two stops you guys followed Chase in, so in one sense it was easy. I know the first stage you went in a lap early. When you're talking about aggressive, what do you mean in terms of aggressive calling because it seemed like you were kind of shadowing the 9.
RANDALL BURNETT: So the first -- we've got to be in the first stage, we had fell far enough back that the time that we need to get on pit road and get to the commitment line is about five and a half, six seconds here, from the time behind the leader at that point. We had fallen just behind that the first stage, so that's what made us pit three laps instead of two laps from the end. We were close enough the second stage, we were within I think four seconds at the end of that one, so we were able to pit with him.
You know, just shorten the stages. Some guys stay out for points, things like that. That's what I meant by calling it a little bit aggressive. But here I think it was pretty straightforward you're going to have to do that right off the bat. The pace falloff wasn't near as bad as it was last year I don't think, so it kind of leaned towards doing that, short pitting the stages to try to keep your track position when the caution came out.
Q. For both of you, I know the saying is "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," and I'm sure those runner-up finishes were great finishes, but it's not those wins. There have been some tough times admittedly the last few years. What got you through and what got you guys to this moment today? For you, Richard, what got you, and for Randall, what got you and this team together to get to this moment?
RANDALL BURNETT: I think a lot of hard work by a lot of people, honestly. We worked hard up at RCR, worked hard with this Next-Gen car getting it off the ground in our shop. We've put a lot of effort into this deal and worked really hard up there. We've got some great people up in the shop. We've got ECR engines. They're a huge help for us.
I don't know, I think just everybody carrying their weight and pulling together and pulling the rope in the same direction. I think it's come a long way since I've been there. I started there in 2017 on the Xfinity side, and I think the 8 team and the 3 team work together about as good as any teammates I've ever seen, a lot of support there between the two teams, so that's something special to have, and I think it helps us grow our company.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, I think he hit on about everything. I think it's just never give up, never quit, keep digging. I think that's what we all did. We all keep talking about winning. Being able to win here is just a feather in the hat to everybody at RCR and ECR.
Q. What does it mean, Richard, to get the win, get in the playoffs, get that potential for extra bonus money for down the road with the way the charter system is and all the things that a win means for an organization and being able to get that for the first time in a couple years?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: You know, I think this win puts the 8 in the Chase, and that's what we put a lot of effort into this race, because this would be the race we knew he could win. I told him this morning he was going to win. We were able to pull it off.
Getting in the Chase, we don't just want to get in the Chase. We talk about being a contender for the championship, and I think we can. I truly think that we will be a contender for the championship when we get into it. Now we've got to get the 3 in, so we've got to put a lot of effort there.
Q. Richard, I think going back to Ryan Newman's final win with you, the last four RCR wins have been really last-minute pit strategy calls or the Daytona 500 which was a last-lap incident. This race you went out, you took it convincingly, it was yours. Does this feel different than those last batch of wins that this team has earned?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, I think anytime you go out and beat the best, it feels good. Like I said earlier, to beat Chase, he's won how many out of the last how many. He's won a lot of the road courses. To be able to go out and beat him, I think that gives us a lot more strength going into the Chase, and I think when you drive and you go out there and you beat him and you win the race, that's what you've got to do.
Q. Randall, was it you who told Tyler over the radio I think maybe seven laps or something like that, out the windshield, don't look in the mirror; was that you?
RANDALL BURNETT: That was Derek. I was talking to Derek, too, trying to keep him calm. Derek does a great job on that. He's our spotter. He does a really good job. Him and Tyler work really good together. Derek does a good job with Tyler like helping him manage traffic, helping him manage everything, especially when he was leading like that. Just letting him know, hey, man, you've got plenty of pace here. The 9 is using his stuff up behind you trying to get to you and he's using it up and just trying to keep his cool with him, and Derek does a great job with that.
Q. Over the years what kind of coaching does Tyler respond to the best in these kind of high-tension scenarios?
RANDALL BURNETT: I think the way Derek handles it is pretty good. Just give him enough information. Don't overly coach him. Don't coach him every corner but give him enough information so he understands what's going on around him, so he understands, hey, I'm pushing 95 percent, the 9 looks like he's pushing 100 percent behind us so I can pace myself, and Derek does a good job of helping him manage that.
Tyler doesn't need a whole lot of cheerleading a lot of times. Sometimes he gets down on himself a little bit and beats himself up if he makes a mistake. I think that's the biggest thing with him is you've just got to keep him pumped up and let him know we can't dwell on it; we've got to get on with it and go about our day.
Q. Richard, I believe it's the second win for RCR at this track, Menard went out in the Xfinity a couple years ago. What does a win at Road America mean for you and the organization?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: You know, this is a great track. I love coming up here. Brandon Gaughan won his first race here, also, and so did Paul -- not his first. It may have been the last race here. I can't remember. One of them did.
It's just a special place. It's just a challenging racetrack, and the drivers -- a lot of it's in the drivers' hands, how they can do it, attack it, and not overdo it. He had some good coaching today from Derek, and I'm just happy to be up here again at my old age still winning. That's all I can say.
Q. You guys were mentioning at the end there where Austin was having trouble? Does Tyler kind of owe Austin one for him pulling off?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: No, no, he just did what he had to do. He would have got off. We just didn't want to see a caution. We talked to him earlier, him and the 14 and 2, there was about five of them back there racing and beating and banging, and he got knocked off -- 19 knocked him off in the corner over here. I said, oh, here we go, here's a caution. So he gathered it back up, so they had a good race, and we won. That's what counts.
THE MODERATOR: Richard, one final question. I know the sponsor on Tyler's car today is a newer one to RCR. What does it mean when sponsors can get their first win, as well?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: You know, to Justin Turner right here, he's the owner of 3Chi, and for us to get NASCAR to let us bring in -- it's a Delta 8, correct? I just asked for some a while ago. I had a back operation. My back is bothering me. So I'm going to use it tonight. To be able to bring a company in, a whole new category to racing, and to be able to have 3Chi on the car on our first win with Tyler, that'll go down in history. We made history by bringing -- and Justin reaching out and taking a gamble on us.
I think at Indy, you seen us at Indy that's where you talked to us, that's where the company is out of, and to be able to bring a win for them and to let people know how important to have them in our sport is, it's a big win for all of us.
THE MODERATOR: Randall and Richard, congratulations again on this victory. I know you will enjoy this one, and we thank you for spending some time with us.
Race strategy was the name of the game for Harrison Burton and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team in Sunday’s Kwik Trip 250 at Road America.
On three separate occasions, crew chief Brian Wilson elected to stay on the track longer than many of his competitors. His strategy worked twice and had great potential a third time had there been any caution periods in the final 32-lap segment of the race.
As it was, Burton finished 22nd and earned nine Stage points, giving him 24 points for the day.
The Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang took the green flag from 23rd place. In the first 15-lap Stage on the high-speed, 4.048-mile road course, Wilson left Burton on the track as many others made pit stops prior to the end of the Stage. Burton moved up to sixth place at Stage end, earning five Stage points.
His stop during the ensuing caution flag dropped him to 27th for the start of the second Stage. Wilson employed the same strategy again, and Burton moved up to seventh place at the end of that segment, earning four more Stage points.
In the final segment of the race, the team elected to run long again. Burton cycled into the race lead for one lap and had dropped to fourth place before making his final stop under the green flag with 13 laps remaining.
He rejoined the race in 27th place and began working his way forward. The team’s thinking at that point was that if the yellow flag did fly before the checkered flag, numerous drivers ahead of Burton would make pit stops, cycling him forward once again.
Had that happened, Burton would have stayed on the track for the remainder of the race, as his tires were relatively fresh at that point.
But as fate would have it, the race was completed with no caution flags for incidents on the track.
Still he gained five spots to finish 22nd.
Burton and the No. 21 team will return to the track next Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway with Freightliner as the primary sponsor.
Race Winner: Tyler Reddick of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Chase Briscoe of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)
SHR Race Finish:
● Kevin Harvick (Started 28th, Finished 10th / Running, completed 62 of 62 laps)
● Chase Briscoe (Started 2nd, Finished 14th / Running, completed 62 of 62 laps)
● Cole Custer (Started 10th, Finished 15th / Running, completed 62 of 62 laps)
● Aric Almirola (Started 24th, Finished 28th / Running, completed 62 of 62 laps)
● Kevin Harvick (11th with 479 points, 145 out of first)
● Aric Almirola (12th with 452 points, 172 out of first)
● Chase Briscoe (16th with 422 points, 202 out of first)
● Cole Custer (27th with 295 points, 329 out of first)
● Harvick earned his 10th top-10 of the season and his first top-10 in two career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Road America.
● This was Harvick’s third straight top-10. He finished fourth June 12 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and 10th in the series’ previous race at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway.
● Harvick’s 10th-place result bettered his previous best finish at Road America – 27th, earned last July.
● Briscoe earned his ninth top-15 of the season and his second top-15 in two career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Road America.
● Briscoe won Stage 1 to earn 10 bonus points and one playoff point.
● Briscoe led once for four laps – his first laps led at Road America.
● Custer earned his fourth top-15 of the season and his first top-15 in two career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Road America.
● Custer’s 15th-place result bettered his previous best finish at Road America – 17th, earned last July.
● Tyler Reddick won the Road America 250 to score his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory. His margin over second-place Chase Elliott was 3.304 seconds.
● Reddick was the 13th different winner in the 18 NASCAR Cup Series races run this season.
● There were two caution periods for a total of two laps.
● Twenty-nine of the 37 drivers in the Road America 250 finished on the lead lap.
● Chase Elliott remains the championship leader after Road America with a 33-point advantage over second-place Ryan Blaney.
“Our HighPoint.com Mustang was good in the first stage. We really needed some more playoff points and those extra stage points as the regular season winds down, so staying out for the stage win helped with that. But once we were fighting back in traffic, things really changed. It was super hard to pass and we started to struggle. It was more difficult than I thought it would be to overcome that, but I’m proud of the guys for sticking with it and trying to get as much out of it as we could. I think we’ve got a really good setup for the next few road courses.” – Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 14 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Atlanta 400 on Sunday, July 10 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. The race begins at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by USA and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Simply put, nobody was better in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires this weekend than Hunter McElrea.
The rookie Andretti Autosport driver delivered a dominant performance Sunday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, leading all 35 laps from the pole in the Indy Lights at Mid-Ohio to score his first series win in the No. 27 car.
The victory capped one of the most dominant Indy Lights weekend performances of the season, as McElrea was never not the fastest driver in a session. McElrea led both practices, was the fastest qualifier and led Sunday’s race flag-to-flag.
CLICK IT:Official Race Results
“I’m just relieved,” McElrea said. “I knew I could do this. This weekend, I just wanted to go back to having fun and letting everything handle itself. I can’t thank everyone who has supported me. It means a lot, and I’m just really relieved and really happy with this.”
McElrea beat Andretti Autosport teammate Matthew Brabham to the finish by 2.6826 seconds. Championship leader Linus Lundqvist rounded out the podium by finishing third for HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing.
Andretti Autosport drivers followed suit to put all four team cars in the top five. Rookie Christian Rasmussen finished fourth in the No. 28 Road to Indy/Stellrecht, while Sting Ray Robb finished fifth in the No. 2 Sekady.
Robb catapulted to fifth with an electrifying pass in the final corner on Benjamin Pedersen of Global Racing Group with HMD. Robb had been hounding Pedersen over the final laps, and Pedersen locked up his tires entering Turn 12. That allowed Robb to jump alongside Pedersen and take the position.
The move cost rookie Jacob Abel a seventh-place finish, as the slight contact between the two cars in front of him caused him to lock his brakes and spin into the grass in Turn 13. He finished 11th in the No. 51 Abel Speedwagon.
McElrea was challenged a few times on the 13-turn, 2.258-mile permanent road course. The first came in Turn 4 on the first lap after taking the green flag, when Lundqvist, who started second, tried to stay side-by-side with McElrea and the two made slight contact.
From there, it was McElrea’s race to lose. By Lap 20, he had a nearly six-second lead on Brabham and more than 15 seconds on Lundqvist. But a Lap 23 caution bunched the 13-car field on his gearbox for one last shot at the dominant driver.
Entering Turn 1, James Roe spun the No. 12 TJ Speed Motorsports entry. The Irishman got stuck in the gravel trap and needed to be pulled out, forcing a full-course yellow. It was the only caution of the day.
As the race resumed on Lap 25 for a 10-lap dash to the finish, McElrea quickly pulled away.
McElrea, a New Zealand native who was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Australia, is the fifth different winner in eight Indy Lights races this season. He is the third driver this season to score his first career win, following Danial Frost on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and Rasmussen at Road America.
The other two race winners this season are Brabham, at St. Petersburg, and Lundqvist, who has four wins on the season.
McElrea was relieved finally to add his name to the list of Indy Lights winners in 2022, a feat he likely should have accomplished in the season-opening race on the Streets of St. Petersburg.
The second runner-up in last year’s Indy Pro 2000 championship was nearly as strong at that race in February, scoring the pole and leading the first 11 laps. But a mistake from the lead put McElrea in the wall and ended his day early.
“Ever since St. Pete when I threw that one away, it was really mentally tough,” he said. “I’ve probably been letting that affect me too much, still just trying to force it a bit much.
“I hope this sets the precedent for the second half of the season. I think for sure this weekend is as perfect as they get. It’s very good for the rest of the year.”
Lundqvist extended his stronghold on the championship with his sixth podium finish of the season. He leads Robb by 87 points. Brabham rose two positions to third, 96 points back. McElrea climbed three spots to fourth, 98 points back.
Indy Lights is back in action Saturday, July 23 for the first oval race of the season at Iowa Speedway. Indy Lights at Iowa Speedway begins at 12:15 p.m. (ET), live on Peacock Premium and INDYCAR Radio Network.
Indy Light Series PR