By David Morgan, Associate Editor
Now that the checkered flag has fallen at Texas Motor Speedway, the four top NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers in the field can turn their attention to next week’s opening race of the annual Dash4Cash at Bristol.
While Kyle Busch was celebrating in Victory Lane, Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe, and Michael Annett qualified themselves for a possible $100,000 payday should they win on the half-mile, high banked bullring next Saturday.
Reddick looked to be in the hunt for the win throughout the afternoon, starting the day in third place and running in the top-10 for the majority of the day. He would finish stage 1 in sixth place, which he followed up with a third-place finish in stage 2.
The defending series champion would lead three times for 19 laps before eventually crossing the finish line in the runner-up position, 0.861 seconds behind Busch.
“Another race weekend, another fast No. 2 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Chevrolet Camaro,” said Reddick. “My Richard Childress Racing team has been putting in the work both at the shop and at the track, and it shows with our results. We have a good string of top-five finishes going right now.
“Today, we just struggled a little bit finding a good balance that worked for both Turns 1 and 2 and turns 3 and 4 since they’re so different here at Texas Motor Speedway, but we really hit on something at the end of the race and the car came to life. If I could run the top line for restarts and then continue it during a run, the handling was much more consistent throughout a run.
“We’re so close to putting RCR in Victory Lane for the first time this year. We just need a little bit more. I’m excited to have qualified for Xfinity’s Dash 4 Cash event at Bristol Motor Speedway. I’m really having so much fun driving these Camaros this year.”
If there was one driver that was the class of the field all day long, it was Christopher Bell. The Oklahoma born driver, who calls Texas his home track looked to have everyone covered on Saturday, winning the pole and stage 1, as well keeping his Toyota up front for 127 of 200 laps.
As the race was winding down, it appeared that pit strategy was going to come into play with fuel an issue for most of the field. Before that happened, the caution flag flew, bringing everyone to pit road for service ahead of the final restart.
Bell’s team elected to take two tires, while Busch took none and the track position gained as a result was too much to overcome in the run to the checkered, leaving him with a third-place finish on the day.
Despite the disappointment of not coming away with the victory, Bell noted clinching a spot in the Dash4Cash was a welcome consolation prize.
“He wasn’t better than us anywhere, he just had track position there,” Bell said. “I don’t know, I was really starting to struggle there on that long run, so whenever they said we were putting two tires on I was all for it. I didn’t get any better, and those guys didn’t slow down.
“A very disappointing day, but we’re in the Dash 4 Cash, so that’s pretty cool. My goal was to make sure that we were in the top-four Xfinity guys. Very frustrating to lose one like that, but really proud of this team. This Rudd Supra was extremely fast and the class of the field.”
Had the caution not fallen, Briscoe looked to be in the catbird seat as one of the few drivers that could have stretched their fuel to the finish, but things don’t always work out as planned and Briscoe was left with a fourth-place finish instead.
“It’s gonna be pretty cool getting to race for $100,000,” said Briscoe. “It’s not every day you get to do that, so I’m looking forward to it. I really feel like we should have been in Victory Lane if that caution didn’t come out. We were gonna be the only car able to go on fuel, so it seems that always happens in those situations, but I’m just really proud of all my Nutri Chomps guys.
“We were literally a 13th to 16th-place car all day long and just kept working on it and getting track position and was able to salvage a top five out of it. We just have to get better throughout the weekend, I’ve got to get better and I feel like once we put it all together we’re gonna be really hard to beat. We just have to get all the pieces together, so I’m looking forward to Bristol and hopefully win $100,000.”
Last, but not least was Annett, who ran just outside the top-10 for the majority of the day as his team struggled to get a handle on his JR Motorsports Camaro. With a pit stop looming in the closing stages of the race, Annett wasn’t going to be able to make it all the way to the finish without one final trip down pit road for fuel.
Taking advantage of the late race caution, Annett restarted 10th for the final six-lap shootout, climbing his way to sixth at the end of the event to capture the final spot in the Dash4Cash.
“Man, we had to fight like crazy for that sixth-place finish today,” said Annett. “Our Pilot Flying J Chevrolet Camaro was a little free all day on take-off, and we couldn’t get back to the gas as aggressively as some of the other guys. We had a great strategy for the end of the race, and our Pilot Flying J pit crew got us spots on pit road all day. That last stop, we took tires and made a couple of adjustments, and that let us gain four spots, so that’s a good, good day.
“The big thing is, we are in the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash next week in Bristol, so that’s a big win for all of us and for JR Motorsports.”