Tyler Reddick’s debut with JR Motorsports came in style.
It took five overtime periods, but Reddick held off JRM teammate Elliott Sadler in a photo finish to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
Reddick and Sadler exited off Turn 4 side-by-side and that’s how they crossed the finish line. They were tied through thousandths of a second and NASCAR needed to review video to determine the winner.
Ryan Reed ended up third, Kaz Grala was fourth and Garrett Smithley claimed a career-best fifth-place finish.
The is Reddick’s second in the Xfinity Series. His first win came last season at Kentucky while competing part-time for Chip Ganassi Racing.
“This feels amazing,” Reddick said in Victory Lane. “This is hell of a way to start the year off with JR Motorsports.”
The win all-but ensures Reddick, 22, will compete in the series playoffs this season.
“Ryan Reed and Ryan Truex, those guys were giving me good pushes as I was really struggling on some of those restarts to get going,” he said.
“I was holding back there on the last restart and (Reed) gave me one last really good push to get back up to Elliott. I don’t even know how close it was at the line, but it was real close.”
The race ended up in a second overtime when an 18-car wreck erupted on the restart lap of the first overtime. It went into a third OT when Spencer Gallagher and Ross Chastain wrecked on restart lap of the second overtime.
The race went into a fourth overtime when Ryan Ellis and Kyle Larson got together to bring out a caution. It went into the fifth when Dylan Lupton wrecked on the restart lap.
“I really wanted to win this race today,” Sadler said. “I got black-flagged during the race for absolutely no reason, in my opinion, but that’s the way it goes.
“I’m glad a JR Motorsports car went to Victory Lane, I just wish it was us today.”
Two top contenders for the race win – Chase Elliott and Sadler – were penalized on Lap 95 by NASCAR for locking bumpers on the track.
Both drivers had to make a pass-thru on pit road under green-flag conditions. With 21 laps remaining, they had fallen to 34th and 33rd.
They were saved from falling a lap down when a multi-car wreck erupted on Lap 98 to bring out the caution and bunch the field.
On the restart with 16 laps remaining, Larson led the way and Sadler and Elliott were already back to 14th and 15th, respectively.
Elliott moved out front on Lap 48 and then feverishly blocked multiple attempts by Larson to reclaim the lead before holding on for the Stage 2 victory.
Aric Almirola ended up finishing second, Larson third, Daniel Suarez fourth and Gallagher completed the top-five.
“This has been a lot of fun,” Elliott said during the break. “These guys have been pretty aggressive.”
Joey Logano was in the thick of the battle for the lead but he experienced an engine issue on the last lap of the stage and dropped back to 16th place at the line.
Following pit stops during the stage break, Almirola came off first and took over the lead on the restart.
When the green-flag waved to start the final segment, Sadler held the lead followed by Larson, Justin Allgaier, Almirola and Reddick.
Larson reclaimed the lead shortly after the restart.
Matt Tifft pit under green on Lap 43 with a flat-right-rear tire but no caution was displayed.
On Lap 48, Elliott made his way around Larson to claim the lead for the first time in the race with Gallagher tucked in right behind him.
Larson held off a powerful run from Logano, who started from the rear of the field, to claim the victory in the first 30-lap stage.
Allgaier ended up third, Reddick was fourth and Sadler rebounded from the back of the field to complete the top-five.
“It’s all about battling back from adversity and I feel that we did that in the first segment.” Sadler said after being the first driver off pit road during the stage break.
Austin Cindric got loose on Lap 11 and hit the wall in the frontstretch which trigged a multi-car wreck that collected seven other cars.
Among those involved were all three Joe Gibbs Racing cars – Christopher Bell, Suarez and Brandon Jones. Bell’s damage forced him to go immediately to the garage. Cindric’s day was also over.
“Probably racing a little too aggressive there to start the race,” Cindric said in the garage. “I just wanted to get to the third stage, to be honest.”
Said Bell about his short tenure on the track: “We knew coming into Daytona there could be a mishap. We tested at Atlanta and it’s one of my favorite race tracks so I am excited to get there.”
Sadler flat-spotted his tires during the wreck and was forced to pit road to take a new set of tires earlier than the team had planned.
The race restarted on Lap 15 with Larson in the lead followed by Daniel Hemric and Logano.
With 10 laps remaining in Stage 1, Larson continued to lead the way.
|24||36||Alex Labbé||Chevrolet||142||1 lap|
|25||76||Spencer Boyd||Chevrolet||142||1 lap|
|26||21||Daniel Hemric||Chevrolet||140||3 laps||5|
|27||28||Dylan Lupton||Ford||137||6 laps|
|28||40||Chad Finchum||Toyota||136||7 laps|
|29||42||Kyle Larson||Chevrolet||134||9 laps||57|
|30||78||Ryan Ellis||Toyota||133||10 laps|
|31||7||Justin Allgaier||Chevrolet||124||19 laps|
|32||3||Austin Dillon||Chevrolet||122||21 laps|
|33||35||Joey Gase||Chevrolet||122||21 laps|
|34||22||Joey Logano||Ford||121||22 laps||26|
|35||98||Aric Almirola||Ford||121||22 laps||3|
|36||86||Brandon Brown||Chevrolet||121||22 laps|
|37||5||Michael Annett||Chevrolet||106||37 laps|
|38||54||Gray Gaulding||Toyota||82||61 laps|
|39||20||Christopher Bell||Toyota||11||132 laps|
|40||60||Austin Cindric||Ford||10||133 laps|