By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
“Two Doors Down” was probably Tyler Reddick’s main tune out of the Dolly Parton discography, as it was nothing but the number two that truly defined his afternoon in Saturday’s Alsco 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway as his No. 2 pink and white Dolly Parton Chevrolet Camaro started and finished all three stages in second, even ended up second in laps led and in the Dash4Cash.
“It’s funny because we were two in Stage 1, two in Stage 2, and we finished second in Stage 3,” said Reddick. “Really impressed with the speed in our Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. It was a good day.”
With the tale of twos aside, Reddick made the most of his compelling paint scheme. Not because he wore Parton’s iconic hairdo during pre-race, but also on the track, where it could’ve been homesick blues in the state of Tennessee.
The outside pole sitter took the lead from pole sitter Cole Custer on Lap 26, where he would hang on to for almost the entire duration of the opening stage. That is until the last lap when Justin Allgaier blew by Reddick for the race lead and at first appeared that Allgaier had the superior car. However, looks were deceiving as spotter Derek Kneeland botched the call after assuming that the stage had already ended, resulting Reddick to slow down the way he did.
“It’s a shame because I thought the stage ended one lap too soon. We should’ve gotten that stage point,” Reddick on the mistake.
Despite the costly error, Reddick took second in the stage and was best of the rest for the time being as Allgaier held on to the lead without any legitimate threat. Meanwhile, Reddick had to deal with Christopher Bell, who was looking to take second away and also the $100,000 bonus as he was also competing for the Dash4Cash.
Then on Lap 165, both Reddick and Bell nearly saw their days changed after Jeremy Clements lost control of his No. 51 All South Electric Chevrolet Camaro, right in front of the second-place battle and both escaped without running into him. This resulted the second stage ending under caution, with Reddick taking second.
That’ll all change when Reddick’s crew couldn’t break their woeful habit second time of the afternoon. Reddick’s left side, notably the jack falling off, halted their pit stop and it dropped the defending Xfinity Series champion from second to seventh heading into the final stage.
Despite the setback, Reddick’s machine flew like a butterfly and soared his way up to fifth. Then on Laps 189-190, it was go-time as he made a tremendous two-car pass on the bottom, getting by both Custer and Austin Cindric for third. He would hang on to that position for a good period of time before taking second as Allgaier fell out of the race and finished 30th.
Dealing with a tight car in the closing laps, Reddick was still inside the top-three and after the fourth caution came out for Harrison Burton hitting the wall on Lap 261, he brought his car to the pits to make small adjustments. Reddick restarted fourth and gradually pick pocketed back his way into second.
Reddick would save the last dance at “The Last Great Colosseum” with Custer, who was giving it his all to get by him to the point that both competitors hit the wall, but kept on trucking. As Bell went on to win the race and the $100,000 Dash4Cash bonus, Reddick held off Custer for second, marking his fourth straight top-five finish this season.
When asked about if the wall contact played a role into not having enough to Bell, Reddick said it had little to no implications due to the durable composite bodies, but instead needed more speed and a quicker stop as he knew that Bell is one of the toughest to beat when he’s out in front.
“These composite bodies are just durable as they can be, but I just needed a little more there to get past Christopher,” said Reddick. “The unfortunate part is when I’m behind him, it’s hard to make the pass.
“We would’ve went into that last stop behind him, but we just needed to find a little bit more there on pit road just to edge him on that final restart. But it’s great to have Dolly Parton and her businesses on the car. I wish we could’ve done something better second for her, but I had a blast out there in that pink car.”
Due to his pair of runner-up stage finishes, Reddick scored the most points among the 37-car field with 53 points to Bell’s 52 and extended his championship lead to 13 points heading into next Friday’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway in Virginia, where he hopes to score his first top-five at the 0.75-mile track as his best finish to date is seventh last September.