BROOKLYN, Mich.—Tyler Reddick continues to defend his Xfinity Series title in commanding fashion.
Despite problems on pit road, Reddick masterfully conserved fuel over the final 94 miles en route to the checkered flag in the LTi Printing 250 at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday.
For Reddick, the victory marked his first win at the two-mile track and his third in his last five starts.
“I thought that caution at the end was going to be bad for us, but Randall (Burnett, crew chief) saw the potential of taking fuel only and getting out front,” Reddick said. “I just didn't want to burn a lot of fuel there. Our Chevrolet was really good but I made some mistakes on pit road and we didn't get the track position until the end there.”
"A great team effort. I didn't do the thing I needed to do on the race track but man, that was a great car and we put ourselves in position to win.”
Noah Gragson, Michael Annett, Paul Menard, Justin Allgaier, Brandon Jones, Chase Briscoe, John Hunter Nemechek, Jeb Burton and Justin Haley rounded out the top 10.
Reddick maintained a comfortable pace throughout the race. He finished third in the first stage, won by polesitter Menard, and fourth in Stage 2—behind Christopher Bell, who scored his sixth stage win.
Reddick was mired in traffic after sliding through the pit box on his first stop and falling short on his second round of service. Skill and patience enabled Reddick to recover in both segments. When Cole Custer and Bell’s strategy left both drivers without enough fuel to go the distance, Reddick bided his time riding around the bottom of the track.
Bell, who failed to acknowledge a directive to pit on Lap 78, went into fuel conservation mode and relinquished the lead to Custer on Lap 94. He dove onto pit road from second for fuel on Lap 114.
“That was our first time using code words and we got the codes mixed up,” Bell said after finishing P13. “It was just a miscommunication. My definition was a little different than what Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) had planned. Ultimately, that was a big hiccup in our day. The 00 (Custer) blew our doors off so we just have to get faster.
“That’s our biggest thing and for whatever reason on the bigger tracks right now, I don’t have the speed that the 00 has. We just have to keep working hard and get our Rheem Supra to be a little bit faster and it will be easy to clean up the miscommunication there.”
Custer led 20 laps before pitting on the next lap, turning the point over to Reddick for the first time in the race. He held the lead for the final 11 laps and finished 1.515-seconds over Gragson.
In the last 10 races, Reddick’s worst result was fourth.
"We just bring great race cars to the race track every week. All the guys at the shop work super-hard on these Chevys.
"All the guys at Richard Childress Racing just make an outstanding effort throughout the week. Their efforts back at the shop and their hours spent from morning to afternoon every single day is what is paying off in getting us back to Victory Lane so often this year."
Gragson’s second-place finish was a career-best in the Xfinity Series. Gragson received damage coming down on Lap 63. He restarted 27th and battled his way back to third on Lap 118. He passed Annett on the last lap for his third top-five finish of the season.
"We keep plugging away and don't quit," Gragson said. "I want to win one of these races so damn bad...we're close."
Reddick extended his points lead over Bell by 89 points.