Tyler Reddick wins 2018 Xfinity Series championship for JR Motorsports
Tyler Reddick has won the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship in his first full-time season in the series. Driving the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, Reddick beat out Championship 4 contenders Christopher Bell, Cole Custer and Daniel Hemric in Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to reach the series pinnacle.
“It was an up-and-down year, but everything we had to do, we did it in the playoffs,” Reddick said. “I knew this team could make it to Miami. … I picked a really good time to get my life together and win a race. We won when it mattered most.”
The 22-year-old opened the 2018 season with a bang, winning his second career Xfinity Series race in the season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway to seal the first spot in the Xfinity Series Playoffs. The official margin of victory — 0.000 seconds — was the closest in NASCAR national series history.
Reddick led 44 laps, third-highest in the race, but soared to the lead on the strength of some pit strategy that saw him pit early in a run.
He passed Bell for the lead on Lap 164, then held off a hard-charging Custer — who led the opening 93 laps — by riding the rim at a track known for rewarding those who can run the top successfully.
The JR Motorsports driver was quiet on the radio after taking the checkered flag, soaking the win in and letting crew chief Dave Elenz and others holler out celebrations.
It was a moment of reflection for the driver, who would later say multiple times that he made too many mistakes this year.
A seven-race summer stretch that resulted in just one top-1o finish and four finishes of 25th or worse and took his name out of the championship discussion, but driver and team both righted the ship in time for the playoffs.
“It’s just a great moment,” Reddick said in Victory Lane as the moment began to sink in. “This isn’t going to be the year where the best car all year won. We had to fight really, really hard. I made a lot of mistakes. I had a lot of growing pains. These guys didn’t give up on me.”
It’s the second consecutive championship for team co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., who runs JR Motorsports with his sister, Kelley. William Byron won the 2017 series title in the same No. 9 Chevrolet. Chase Elliott earned the organization’s first title in 2014, also in the No. 9.
Reddick scored three career victories in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with now-defunct Brad Keselowski Racing from 2014-16, finishing second in the standings in 2015 before making the jump to the Xfinity Series.
Reddick will make the switch from JR Motorsports to Richard Childress Racing’s Xfinity Series program in 2019.
This story will be updated.
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