HOMESTEAD-MIAMI, Fla. — The “Big 3” delivered, as they have been all season, once again on Saturday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
At times, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer were both looking like the were heading towards the title, but Tyler Reddick ultimately came out on top.
Making the final pass for the lead with 19 laps to go, Reddick traded slide-job moves with Custer before ultimately coming out on top.
“It’s all about this race team,” Reddick said. “I was just honored to pilot this Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. This ‘Tame the Beast’ Chevrolet was just so fast, and just hats off to Team Chevy and all those guys for working on this Chevrolet, and all the guys at ECR (Earnhardt-Childress Racing) for giving us great power.
“I’m losing my breath, I’m that excited. This one means so much. It was just a lot better year and it was really cool to go back-to-back.”
FORD ECOBOOST 300 – STAGE 1
The entire race seemed like a full on brawl from start to finish. Reddick started on the pole, and through a handful of cautions, including one for a piece of debris caught in the outside wall, he looked to have the upper hand early.
That debris caution, however, split up the strategy between championship contenders, as Reddick and Custer opted to pit before the stage break, while Bell and the other title contender, Justin Allgaier, opted to save a set of tires for the stage break caution.
On the ensuing restart, Reddick, Custer, and the 2019 Xfinity Series Rookie-of-the-Year, Chase Briscoe, cut their way from the middle of the pack back to the front. Briscoe bested the rest, and took the green-checkered flag to win Stage 1.
FORD ECOBOOST 300 – STAGE 2
The entirety of the second stage almost went caution-free, and due to the split strategy, it was now Bell’s turn, as well as Allgaier’s turn, to cut through the field.
Early into the stage, Custer found his way to pit road for an unscheduled pit stop. Custer had a loose right rear tire, and ended up a lap down to the leader after a lengthy stop.
Austin Cindric ended up with the lead after an incredible restart on the stage restart. Cindric kept his advantage over the Championship 4 contenders, and held on to win the stage.
As the field came to the end of the stage, the caution flag flew just before the final lap was completed. Justin Haley and Harrison Burton collided on the frontstretch, resulting in the No. 11’s bumper going missing.
Just before the caution had flown, Custer managed to get his lap back from Cindric, and would be back in contention for the championship in the final stage.
FORD ECOBOOST 300 – FINAL STAGE
The stage went under caution almost as soon as it began, as the replacement rear bumper for Haley flew off, ending Haley’s race.
About 20 laps after the next restart, the final caution of the race flew when Briscoe blew a tire after contact with the outside wall.
With 72 laps to go, and one more pit stop on top of that, the green flag flew for the final time with Reddick and Bell battling up front.
Custer had worked his way back into contention, but due to his unscheduled stop from the previous stage, was on one less set of tires should a caution come out.
As the laps wound down, the caution flag never flew again.
Bell had attempted to pit before the rest, but missed pit lane in the process, having to go back around the track after already slowing down once.
Allgaier ended up actually pitting first, but he was banking on some help to get him back into contention.
Reddick and Custer pitted together a few laps later, in that order, but flip flopped on exit with Custer ahead.
Bell still had the lead over Allgaier when it cycled through, but Custer and Reddick were coming.
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The duo made easy work of Allgaier, and when they got to Bell, it was no contest.
With 30 laps to go, the chess match began. Custer in the lead, Reddick in second with better long run speed.
Reddick made the move in Turn 1 with 20 to go, but Custer fought back the following corner. The slide job was unsuccessful, and Reddick began to pull away.
Allgaier smacked the wall and blew his right rear tire. No caution. He wound up in 14th.
Bell’s tires were at a disadvantage from the short pit, and he had lost too much time missing the pits. Bel came home fifth.
Custer made one last attempt at closing back in, but went too deep and hit the wall, finishing the day in second.
Reddick, the champion from a year ago, went back-to-back, the first driver to win consecutive titles with two different teams in NASCAR history.
The victory was Reddick’s sixth of the season, and ninth of his career.
Reddick moves from Richard Childress Racing’s Xfinity program to their Cup Series program in 2020. He will be racing against Bell and Custer next season as well, as they will all be competing for the Rookie-of-the-year honors.
Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com