Xfinity Series News (7159)
NASCAR Xfinity Series News
Chase Briscoe finished out the NASCAR Xfinity Series season for the No. 60 team with a 13th-place finish in the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“I think we did a really good job all weekend long and just continuing to build on it,” said Briscoe. “Even in qualifying I felt like we made really good gains round to round and then at the start of the race we weren’t necessarily great and we continued to make it better and better. We still weren’t quite where we needed to be, but from the start of the weekend to the end of the weekend it was a lot better, so hopefully we can come back next year and be a little bit better.”
Briscoe’s steady Saturday started by advancing to the second round of qualifying and putting his Nutri Chomps Ford Mustang in the 13th position to begin the 300-mile race. After struggling to find the balance on handling all weekend, Briscoe continued to battle in the first segment of the race. He would complain of a loose handling car, ultimately finishing 16th at the stage break.
Crew chief Mike Kelley brought Briscoe down pit road at the caution for four fresh tires, fuel and chassis adjustments to help with handling. The changes made Briscoe’s Mustang tighter in the corners, and he slid through turn four on the first lap of stage two before collecting himself. He would surrender several positions after the slide, but on the long green flag run started to see the benefits of the changes. He would conclude stage two in the 17th position.
Briscoe would come down pit road again in the stage intermission for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments to fine tune his turning, leaving pit road in the 18th position. The Nutri Chomps Ford Mustang sprang to life in the final segment, and Briscoe began to motor forward through the field. Briscoe was clocked running lap times similar to the top five contenders in the race, and was able to work his way back up to 13th as the final segment ran caution-free.
Ryan Reed, driver of the No. 16 Drive Down A1C Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang, capped off a consistent day with an 12th-place finish in the final race of the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“We had moments of where the car was really good,” said Reed. “In the second practice, we were really good at firing off and put it top of the board there, but we just couldn’t ever get it to turn across the center like we needed in our Ford Mustang to be competitive and compete up in the top 10 and top five all night.”
Reed’s team worked on the Lilly Diabetes DriveDownA1C.com Ford Mustang all weekend to improve handling, paying off when the team topped the speed charts in Friday afternoon’s final practice. Reed would again have speed in his Mustang Saturday morning, advancing to the final round of qualifying and securing the 11th starting position.
Speed in the Mustang was consistent throughout the race, with Reed finishing the first two stages in 10th and 11th place, respectively. With track temperatures changing as the race went on, Reed’s handling worsened and he faded to 13th midway through the stage. With no cautions in the final segment, all Reed could do was maintain his position, ultimately finishing the season finale 12th.
Tyler Reddick book-ended his rookie NASCAR Xfinity season run – with wins in the season-opener in Daytona Beach and again Saturday evening in the Homestead-Miami season finale.
But a stellar championship field kept him honest – truly settling the season trophy among themselves. Last year’s Homestead winner Cole Custer finished second- a full 6.9-seconds behind Bell in the race and therefore second also in the title chase. But his effort was still good enough Saturday to give Stewart-Haas Racing its first Xfinity Series owner’s championship.
Richard Childress Racing driver Daniel Hemric was fourth in the race and seven-time season winner Christopher Bell drove his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota home to an 11th-place finish after a late race green flag pit stop to change a tire. They finished third and fourth in the title chase.
Reddick led 44 of the race’s 200 laps - including the final 37. Custer was out front for 95 laps and Bell led nine too. All four championship-eligible drivers spent the majority of the day among the top–five.
Custer who set a race record, leading 182 of the 200 laps in his 2017 victory, won the pole position Saturday morning and paced the field for the opening 93 circuits Saturday afternoon. Pit strategy later in the evening, however, shuffled the leaders. Reddick was able to take the lead, pitting three laps before Custer and forcing the Stewart-Haas driver to play catch up. While Reddick was able to hug the wall and excel in the track top-line and pull away, that line didn’t work so well for Custer.
“Congrats to Tyler," Custer said immediately, sitting on pit wall after the race. “He could run the wall better than I could and I was so far back from my pit stop and strategy. Once I got there [back to the front group] my tires kind of equaled out and he could run the top and I couldn’t keep up with him.
“I couldn’t’ do it. I don’t know if I just need to practice I guess.”
His team owner Tony Stewart - a three-time Cup championship driver, who also fields a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup championship-eligible car for Kevin Harvick in Sunday’s race – was happy for the owner’s title. But he felt badly Custer’s stellar season-long effort fell a little short.
“We're proud as an organization to win an owner's championship, but we wanted to do it with our driver winning the driver championship," Stewart said. “Cole did an awesome job all year. The whole team did an awesome job all year. That's the hard part about the last race is it's down to a one race deal, and we just fell a little short.
“We might have made a mistake on the strategy, on pitting too late. But like Cole said, he got to his bumper there, and I thought we were going to be in good shape there, and then just the balance shifted on him.
“You know, you take the lump, and at the same time, like I said, we're excited about the championship on the owner's side. But the goal was to win Cole a driver championship. We would get ours that way, as well.
“We'll just come back next year and try again and try to get him one, but excited that we were able to get Ford their first one for the weekend here and hopefully get another one for them tomorrow for sure.”
Bell, who won a series best seven races this year, was equally as disappointed. But like Custer, he’ll be back again in 2019 to try again to claim the season championship.
“Ultimately just wasn't fast enough tonight," Bell said. “It's disappointing to end our season like that, but really proud of everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing and everyone on this team 20 group. They work really hard to bring really fast race cars to the track every single week, and winning seven races is something that I'm super proud of and super thankful for and wouldn't trade the world for.
“Excited to get back and do it again in February.”
Hemric, who finished fourth in the No. 21 RCR Chevrolet, is the only one among the four championship-eligible drivers who did not lead a lap Saturday. He maintained a top-five running position for the vast majority of the race, but couldn’t legitimately challenge for the lead.
“About 20 laps into the run I thought our car would really, really come on," said Hemric, who moves up to the Cup Series in 2019, driving RCR’s No. 31 Chevrolet.
“I thought it was really going to pay off for us, but whenever we went to that next to last green flag run, and I saw the 9 car [Reddick] was the first one to pit, it was borderline like if you don't pit within a lap of that, then you're committed to run a long time.
“You know, I applaud [crew chief] Danny Stockman for at least making a gutsy call to try to stretch it as long as we could, hoping a caution would come out. It never did, and we got to a point where we had to pit, and by that point we had lost, I don't know the numbers exactly, but probably at least nine to 12 seconds to the leaders as early as they pitted.
“Just not ideal. Just cautions and stuff didn't fall the way we needed them to give ourselves a shot, but I thought we did a good job of making our race car the best we could throughout the night, and just didn't have enough.”
Tyler Reddick was the only driver of the Championship 4 who really liked it on top, and his willingness to run the wall paid off with a race win and a NASCAR Xfinity Series title.
Charging forward in the top lane, even though it meant an occasional brush with the outside wall, Reddick pulled away from pole winner Cole Custer during a long green-flag run to the finish to win Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 by 6.902 seconds.
“I picked a really good time to get my life together and decide to win a race,” and elated Reddick said in Victory Lane.
In fact, Saturday’s win was the third in Reddick’s career and his second of the season. Reddick won the 2018 opener at Daytona International Speedway by .0004 seconds over JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler, who finished 14th on Saturday in his final start as a full-time driver.
At Daytona, Reddick’s margin of victory translated to roughly three inches. At Homestead, it was a no-doubter. Once he passed fellow Championship 4 competitor Christopher Bell for the lead on Lap 164 of 200 and stayed within inches with the wall lap after lap, he quickly pulled away for the win, the championship and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.
“I just knew we had to execute,” Reddick said. “I thought we had a chance if we just made it to Homestead. I like this track—it rewards my aggression. Tonight, we hit the wall a lot, but the car kept in one piece, enough for me to get to the end.”
Pit strategy also played out in Reddick’s favor. Bell came to pit road under green on Lap 141, and Reddick followed a lap later. Custer didn’t bring his No. 00 Ford to pit road from the lead until Lap 147, after losing roughly two seconds per lap, and exited 8.006 seconds behind Reddick.
Bell passed Reddick for the lead on Lap 154 but within 10 laps the seven-time winner had used up his short-run speed and surrendered the top spot back to Reddick.
“He went out and attacked, attacked, attacked all night, and it paid off for him,” Bell said of Reddick’s effort. “I was good on the bottom, and I had glimpses of hope, but we just weren’t fast enough.”
Custer took second from Bell on Lap 165 and closed to within 2.7 seconds with 30 laps left, but Custer couldn’t find speed at the top of the track and quickly lost ground.
“I think if we could have run the top better, we could have won,” said Custer, who led the first 93 laps before losing two positions on pit road during stops under caution after the second stage. “We got so far behind (after the exchange of pit stops), and once I caught him, our tires got equaled out, and then he started running the top, and I just couldn’t keep up with him.
“Congrats to Tyler. I’m happy for him, but it’s frustrating.”
Trying to run the top lane, Bell smacked the wall on Lap 181 and had to pit with a flat right-rear tire on Lap 190. He finished 11th, one lap down. Championship 4 driver Daniel Hemric ran a distant fourth behind Reddick, Custer and John Hunter Nemechek. Hemric was 17.836 seconds behind Reddick at the finish.
Austin Cindric finished fifth, followed by Ryan Preece and Justin Allgaier, the last driver on the lead lap.
Reddick is the third JR Motorsports driver in five years to win the Xfinity championship as a rookie, following Chase Elliott (2014) and William Byron (2017), both of whom now drive for Hendrick Motorsports in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. All three rookie champions have driven the No. 9 Chevrolet for JRM.
“(Crew chief) Dave (Elenz) had a great strategy tonight that cycled Tyler into the lead,” said team co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. “And Tyler had the speed and the nerve to run the laps he needed to keep the lead.
“I’m telling you, to run on that fence like he did at the end of that race, that takes some precision. He did such an amazing job doing that, and he earned the victory tonight and the championship.”
Following an outstanding rookie season, Tyler Reddick is now the NASCAR Xfinity Series champion.
The driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet capped off an extraordinary season in grand fashion – by capturing the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship with a stirring victory in Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
To take the title, Reddick outdueled his Championship 4 competitors Cole Custer (second), Daniel Hemric (fourth) and Christopher Bell (11th).
The Corning, California native showed his talent on the racetrack throughout the entire season and won the opening race of the season at Daytona in the closest finish in NASCAR national series history, immediately securing his spot in the Playoffs.
Once the Playoffs began, Reddick upped his performance to another level, recording a top-10 finish in all but one postseason race. Reddick finished the season with two wins, seven top fives and 20 top 10s.
Reddick was also crowned the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year.
The title is the second consecutive driver championship for JR Motorsports and third in the last five years. The team also won the 2014 title with Chase Elliott and 2017 with William Byron.
The No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford won the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series Owner Championship, finishing second ahead of fellow Championship 4 owner contenders No. 20, No. 21 and No. 42. It is the first NASCAR Xfinity Series owner championship for Stewart-Haas Racing.
On the strength of 15 victories, Chevrolet won the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series Manufacturer Championship.
Brett Moffitt, a kid with a moustache reminiscent of Leo DiCaprio—yet already a journeyman driver at age 26—is the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion after a decisive victory in Friday night’s Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
In a race that featured a minimum two cautions, both for planned stage breaks, Moffitt drove away from the rest of the field after taking the lead from fellow Championship 4 contender Noah Gragson on Lap 99 of 134.
Moffitt finished 2.000 seconds ahead of pole winner Grant Enfinger, who passed Gragson for the runner-up spot during a cycle of green-flag pit stops at the 103-lap mark. Gragson ran third, 5.006 seconds back.
GMS Racing teammates Justin Haley and Johnny Sauter didn’t factor into the title battle. Haley ran eighth, and Sauter, trying for a second series championship, battled a loose handling condition all race long and finished 12th, the last driver on the lead lap.
Driving for underfunded Hattori Racing Enterprises, owned by former driver Shigeaki Hattori of Japan, Moffitt picked up his sixth victory of the season (and second straight) and the seventh of his career. More than 20 years ago, Hattori won the first of his two Indy Lights races at Homestead after leading 64 of 67 laps in a Lola/Buick.
“That was the longest 20-30 laps of my life," Moffitt said of the final run to the checkered flag. "Man, I was just glad we could get to the white flag without a caution and clean sailing. We had a great truck all day.
"It's unreal. We all know the story by now. We didn't know if we were going to race this whole year. I didn't if I would have the opportunity to run for a championship, even after we got our first win. Everyone pulled together hard here.
"We've had so many partners who came in at clutch moments and got us to the race track.”
Hattori fought sponsorship issues throughout the season, and Moffitt has yet to announce a deal for next season, but that didn’t deter the driver of the No. 16 Toyota from battling Gragson from a restart on Lap 68 until he finally prevailed on Lap 99—after two concerted runs at his rival for the title.
"I just got my tires a little too hot the first time I got next to him, and I probably didn't commit enough to the move,” said Moffitt, who competed in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series before landing the ride with HRE. “I kind of let them cool down and ran the top trying to get some momentum.
"He was kind of backing up, and we could still run the bottom really well, which is kind of unusual for Homestead.”
Moffitt lost the lead briefly but gained three seconds on Gragson in the championship battle when the drivers came to pit road for their final stops, Gragson on Lap 101 and Moffitt one circuit later. After returning to the point on Lap 106, Moffitt wasn’t challenged the rest of the way.
Sauter’s performance was surprising, too, in that his team never hit a workable setup.
“It was awful,” admitted Sauter, who couldn’t find the form that carried him to Victory Lane six times this year. “Just no grip. We laid an egg tonight. When you suck that bad, you just go home and ask yourself, ‘What the hell happened?’”
Stewart Friesen finished fourth and Sheldon Creed fifth. Matt Crafton, John Hunter Nemechek, Haley, Jesse Little and Ben Rhodes completed the top 10.
Myatt Snider, who finished 14th, claimed Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors for the series.