Tyler Reddick challenged and conquered the most successful road course racer currently in the NASCAR Cup Series, Chase Elliott, to score his first career Cup win in the Kwik Trip 250 at Road America.
“Well, I definitely knew he (Elliott) was fast, but we could stay with him on the long run,” Reddick said. “That told me if we cycled through that last pit sequence, we’d be close or get around him, and we’d have a great shot. Didn’t quite get around him. we were within reach.
“Thankfully we just waited for the right opportunity and was able to take advantage of it in Turn 6. I thought he was going to run me back down. I started to make some mistakes and started to take care of the brakes; apparently I didn’t need to. Yeah, very good shape there. What a day.”
It took Reddick five second-place finishes before he was finally able to get the breakthrough victory in Elkhart Lake. Similar to the careers of Elliott and Kyle Larson, it took them multiple runner-up results before they could finally win a Cup race.
After that, Elliott and Larson found it much easier to get into victory lane on a more regular basis. Reddick surely hopes it’ll be the same for him, so it doesn’t take as long to reach the winner’s circle next time.
“First off, congrats to him,” Elliott said.
“I know he’s been super close to that first win, and I’ve been down that road and it can be a rocky one. I’m happy for those guys. They deserve it.”
With 17 laps to go, Richard Childress Racing stepped up big time on pit road, with the No. 8 team getting their driver on Elliott’s bumper exiting the pits for the final time.
Shortly after the fact, Reddick made his move on Elliott to take the lead and he never looked back. This is Richard Childress Racing’s first Cup win since July 19, 2020, at Texas Motor Speedway with Austin Dillon.
“It’s great to see Tyler Reddick in the winner’s circle,” Childress said. “It wasn’t a matter of if he was going to do it, it was when they were going to win. That’s what we kept telling them. Had a couple of meetings, all of us, and talked about what it’s going to take to get us in the winner’s circle, and that’s not beat yourself and be solid, and that’s what these guys did today, and they did that.
“When you beat Chase Elliott, you beat one of the best, and Hendrick’s guys, hats off to them, they’ve got their four cars in, we’ve got one of ours. We’ve got one more to try to get in. So we’re going to be a contender for the championship, right?”
Surprisingly, besides the stage breaks, the 62-lap race didn’t have any natural cautions for an on-track incident.
Seventh-place finisher Austin Cindric gave a detailed response, explaining why the race went essentially caution-free.
“I feel like some of the things about this car certainly make it more challenging to overtake and more challenging to make mistakes,” Cindric said. “I feel like there are a lot of cars that were really close and strategy was important and tire falloff was important. You get separation but you still have comers and goers, which is what this track is all about.
“Unless somebody gets stuck in the gravel trap, I guess these cars are so high off the ground you probably aren’t going to get stuck like you would before. It was definitely a physical day and always great to come up here.”
Like Chase Briscoe did in the first stage, Ryan Blaney stayed out while many of the front runners pitted, taking advantage of this opportunity to take Stage 2.
“It was nice to win a stage and come from the back and end up how we did, it was something to be proud of,” Blaney said.
For the most part, the first two stages were relatively uneventful. However, there was a notable incident when Joey Logano locked up the brakes heading downhill into Turn 5 and made contact with Bubba Wallace, sending both drivers spinning.
Things can change quickly!
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) July 3, 2022
Later on, Wallace got to the rear bumper of Logano and the No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang went off course into the grass. Initially, it appeared that Wallace got payback for the earlier incident. The NBC Sports replay showed the 23XI Racing driver never touched Logano.
As some may suggest, Wallace might’ve rattled his cage.
— Steve Luvender (@steveluvender) July 3, 2022
Stage 2 Top-10 Results: Blaney, Hand, T. Dillon, Ku. Busch, Jones, Haley, Burton, Wallace, Elliott, Reddick.
While most of the field pitted to maintain track position entering the second stage, Stewart-Haas Racing decided to keep Chase Briscoe’s No. 14 Ford Mustang on the track to secure the Stage 1 win over Team Penske’s Austin Cindric.
“Our HighPoint.com Mustang was good in the first stage,” Briscoe said. “We really needed some more playoff points and those extra stage points as the regular season winds down, so staying out for the stage win helped with that.”
The driver who started on the pole, Chase Elliott, dominated most of the race’s opening stage. Crew chief Alan Gustafson brought the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro to the pits before the end of the stage.
Similar to the road course race at Sonoma a few weeks ago, maintaining track position heading into the final stage was super important at Road America. When the field spreads out, the dirty air makes overtaking more difficult.
Therefore, pitting before the stage break made the most sense for the top performers to keep valuable track position when it mattered the most. Enough drivers pitted for Elliott to pick up a single stage point by finishing 10th.
This strategy play put Elliott back in the lead to kick off Stage 2.
Stage 1 Top-10 Results: Briscoe, Cindric, Bowman, Logano, Ku. Busch, Burton, Wallace, Jones, Haley, Elliott.
The NASCAR Cup Series returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway next Sunday afternoon, July 10 (3 p.m. ET on USA Network). In the spring event, William Byron won the first race on the new, revamped Atlanta that races like a superspeedway now with increased banking in the turns.
For drivers such as Chris Buescher, Brad Keselowski, Bubba Wallace and Austin Dillon needing a win to earn a playoff berth, Atlanta has to be the second most important race remaining in the regular season underneath Daytona.
Atlanta proved in the spring this race will be a true wildcard, with the possibility of superspeedway-style racing leading to a 14th different race winner this season and a shot to go compete for a championship.
Kwik Trip 250 Top-10 Results: Reddick, Elliott, Larson, Chastain, Suarez, Buescher, Cindric, McDowell, Allmendinger, Harvick.