Winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship in 2018 was enough for Tyler Reddick to prove he might be ready for the Cup Series. Winning the Xfinity title again in 2019 only solidifies that notion. The incoming Cup rookie led 84 of 200 laps in Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway en route to his second straight series title.
Entering the Championship Round, Reddick was the regular season champion and vying for the title against Cole Custer, Christopher Bell, and Justin Allgaier. Reddick started on the pole with Custer aside him, while Bell and Allgaier were seventh and sixteenth, respectively.
Reddick and Bell, who combined for thirteen wins in 2019, battled with one another for the lead throughout the race. Noah Gragson, Chase Briscoe, and Austin Cindric also spent time in front. Briscoe, who won 2019 Rookie of the Year honours, won the first two stages. Meanwhile, Allgaier struggled to crack the top ten, while Custer fell a lap down late in Stage #2 with a loose wheel before returning to the lead lap shortly prior to the green-checkered flag.
As the race entered the final 100 laps, Reddick, Bell, and Custer ran in the top five. Briscoe’s right-front tyre went down on lap 124 for the caution, but he remained in the race. Allgaier eventually joined his championship rivals in the top ten, though he was unable to keep up.
During green-flag pit stops for the four, Bell missed pit road which forced him to go around again, while Custer beat Reddick for the lead. With less than twenty laps remaining, Allgaier hit the wall to formally end his title hopes. Custer led until Reddick passed him on lap 182, and the defending champion drove off to score his second straight title and sixth win of 2019.
Custer finished second and Bell fifth, while Allgaier ended his season with a fourteenth-place finish.
“One spot short tonight but its been an incredible season,” Custer tweeted after the race. “Thank you [Haas Automation], [Ford Performance], [Tony Stewart] & everyone at [Stewart-Haas Racing] for giving me fast cars and this opportunity. Looking forward to what’s to come in 2020″.
Reddick, who is moving up to the Cup Series in 2020 with Richard Childress Racing, is the first back-to-back Xfinity champion since Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2011 and 2012. Custer and Bell are also slated to join Reddick in the premier series, setting the trio up for the 2020 Rookie of the Year battle.