By David Morgan, Associate Editor
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – The “Big Three” of the NASCAR Xfinity Series – Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, and Cole Custer – will be heading to the Cup Series in 2020, but before making the leap to the big leagues, the trio made sure their final season in the Xfinity Series was a memorable one.
Reddick may have come away with the championship for the second-straight season, but all three were instrumental in shaping the landscape of NASCAR’s second tier series in 2019.
The three combined for 21 wins on the season, with Bell leading the way at eight victories. Reddick made six trips to Victory Lane, while Custer captured the checkered flag seven times. If anyone was going to win the championship, they were going to have to go through one of the three to get there.
Now that their tenure in the Xfinity Series is over, the Cup Series beckons for all of them. Reddick and Custer will stay in-house at their respective teams, with Reddick staying with Richard Childress Racing and Custer moving up with Stewart-Haas Racing. Bell remains in the Toyota camp, taking over the No. 95 ride with Leavine Family Racing, a technical alliance partner of Joe Gibbs Racing.
“It’ll be a lot of fun racing Cole and Tyler for Rookie of the Year next year,” said Bell. “It’ll be interesting to see how each of us adapt to the next level. I guess Cole and Tyler have a little bit of a head start on me with a couple Cup starts, but yeah, it’ll be a lot of fun. I’m ready for the next chapter.”
While Reddick, Custer, and Bell have their own thoughts about the move to the Cup Series next season, what their competitors said about their presence in the Xfinity Series speaks volumes about the impact that they were able to make in the series.
“It’s going to be disappointing to see them go,” said Justin Allgaier, who battled the three in Saturday’s championship race at Homestead. “They’re great competitors, they’re fun to race against. They kicked our butt a lot this year.
“To look at the seasons those three had, it was big. But you know what, that’s what happens. That’s what you’re supposed to do; you’re supposed to come in this sport and win and be able to move on to the Cup side and get that opportunity, and they’ve done that, and it’s fun to watch.”
Though they may be moving on next year, the 2019 Xfinity Series campaign will forever be known as the year Reddick, Custer, and Bell took the rest of the field to the woodshed.
“It was perfect it came down to us three,” Reddick said. “At some point at the end of stage 3, whether it was before the caution or whatever, we were battling, man, and that green flag pit stop, we were just battling like we have all year long.
“It’s just awesome we were able to come out on top on the deal, but a lot of times this year the 20 and the 00 have bested us, too. Been a lot of fun racing them. I’m looking forward to racing them along with some really talented other drivers on Sundays, and it’s just crazy that us three were able to win so many races and we were racing against each other so much. It was a blast.”