By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
“The Tricky Traingle” had a lot to offer, both good and bad, for Xfinity Series points leader Tyler Reddick, who had his work cut out for in Saturday’s Pocono Green 250, leading a single lap in the 103-lap contest.
Fresh off a victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway last Saturday, Reddick appeared to be on his way of scoring back-to-back victories, but on the final turn of the final lap, his No. 2 Tame the Beast Chevrolet Camaro got sideways, allowing Cole Custer got get by and win his third race of the season by 0.226 seconds.
Although Reddick scored his 10th top-five in 12 races this season, he felt dejected of losing a bid of a third Xfinity Series win this season under those circumstances.
“This Richard Childress Racing Camaro was really good in the first half of the race, but we lost the balance in the second half on our Tame the Beast Chevrolet,” said Reddick. “It’s kind of a shame that we worked really hard to get to the lead there. It was so tight the last three laps and tried to get some rear brake in it, covered the yellow line really well. I just got a little too aggressive I think and the car got sideways, gave it right back to Cole.”
Before coming up short, Reddick already had a challenging race after giving up his sixth starting position due to a transmission change. Therefore, he had to start at the rear of the field. His period towards the back didn’t last long whatsoever as he worked his way up to 15th after the opening lap and once the first caution came out for a crash by Brandon Jones, Reddick was inside the top-10.
After Stage 1, Reddick saw himself in third and collected eight stage points. His No. 2 team would make a slight chassis adjustment on their next pit stop. The change worked out as Reddick went from 18th when he started Stage 2 to ending up second, collecting an additional nine stage points.
The championship leader however, was battling a tight Camaro and it proved to be a detriment in the final stage as he felt the first two stages was when his car was stronger. This still didn’t stop Reddick from being a front running car, but he would face another hurdle at Pocono.
While pitting for only right side tires and fuel, a tire violation meant he had to serve a drive-through penalty, putting him out of race-winning contention. Then Reddick caught a lucky break when contact between Austin Cindric and Jeffrey Earnhardt at The Tunnel Turn, sent the latter around, bringing out the sixth caution.
It allowed Reddick to be back in contention and approached the caution period to pit for new left side tires and more fuel. Reddick said the call by Randall Burnett, Reddick’s crew chief, wasn’t a major concern.
“I’ve never really taken left side tires before,” said Reddick. “It was a great call by Randall and all of our No. 2 team.”
On the restart, he was inside the top-10 but quickly moved his way up to fourth entering Turn 1. Behind him, Justin Allgaier spun to bring out the final caution of the race.
This gave Reddick another shot of capturing his third win in the last four races, and once the green flag dropped, he pushed the leader of Custer to the front. Before entering the corner, Reddick successfully pulled the crossover move and ducked to the bottom, clearing Custer.
From there, Reddick had the race in the bag, but an ill handling car was still troublesome and once he took the white flag, he even made slight contact towards the wall at the end of the frontstretch. Reddick was able to hold on to the lead until the final turn when his car became extremely vulnerable, giving Custer the opportunity to snag the lead and was the guy celebrating instead of the points leader.
The Californian described the final laps being a defining moment for his tight car, including his stint out in front.
“I heard he kind of drove it a little bit deep there, so I tried to really get it stopped and make sure to cover the bottom. Felt I had a really good restart to get by Cole, but I was just so tight,” Reddick on the restart. “Even out front in clean air, I was way too tight to really hold the bottom that well. I probably could’ve held the bottom better.”
Reddick will head to Michigan with a 77-point lead over Christopher Bell and is ahead of third-place Custer by an additional 22. He stated that he’s given Custer too many freebies in the Xfinity Series and hopes one of these days, it’ll be in his favor instead of the other way around.
“I’ve done that with Cole a few times here on the last lap. Maybe one of these times, I’ll quit giving it to him, but he had a really good car all day. It was fun battling with him. Hope the fans enjoyed it because I didn’t – getting passed on the last corner, but that’s racing.”