By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Wrecking in qualifying is possibly one of the worst things that can happen to a driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series as Tyler Reddick found out. Reddick had to climb from starting last in the field for the first time in his Xfinity Series career to finish inside the top-10 at ISM Raceway.
Some strategy by Reddick’s crew chief, Dave Elenz, put Reddick’s No. 9 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Chevrolet Camaro SS in lead in the final stage of the race. The caution that Elenz was hoping for never came, forcing them to make a green flag pit stop. The gamble did, however, move Reddick inside the top-10 for the first time in the DC Solar 200. The duo ultimately finished the race in 10th.
What forced Elenz and Reddick to make that gamble was an incident in qualifying. Reddick pancaked the right side of his Chevrolet Camaro SS in the first round of qualifying. The JR Motorsports rookie never completed a lap in the session, forcing the Daytona-winner to start 40th.
The late-race gamble was not the only time Elenz and Reddick made a strategy call. Reddick stayed on track after the end of Stage 1, and lengthy rain-delay, to lead a handful of laps. He was quickly swallowed up by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup driver Kyle Busch, fellow JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier, and eventual race-winner Brad Keselowski.
The 10th-place finish was Reddick’s third top-10 of the season and ninth of his career. He slips from the points lead to be just one point behind his JR Motorsports teammate, Elliott Sadler. Reddick is still the only Xfinity Series driver locked into the Playoffs, being the only series regular to score a victory.
Now Reddick will prepare for his first trip to the 2.0-mile Auto Club Speedway for the Auto Club 300 on Saturday March 17.