Tyler Reddick avoids tire troubles to win at Texas Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 on Sunday.
The second round of the 2022 playoffs kicked off with a 500-mile race at Texas Motor Speedway. It was a hot weekend that limited the handling ability of several next-gen racecar drivers. Texas Motor Speedway’s surface is extremely slick, and it seems that drivers have to tiptoe around this track to avoid spinning out. With a NASCAR Cup Series championship on the line, we will see which drivers throw caution to the wind with aggressive driving and strategies heading into the Round of 12.
Pole Sitter, Brad Keselowski Brings the Field to Green
Brad Keselowski won the pole position in qualifying Saturday afternoon, and he had the honor of bringing the field to the green flag. He was able to lead the opening 33 laps before he slid up the track in the first turn. Keselowski fell back to third as Joey Logano took over the race lead.
On lap 40, Martin Truex Jr spun around coming off the fourth turn to bring out the first caution of the day with the leaders coming down pit road for service. The field struggled to keep control of their cars as there were four more cautions in the first stage with drivers spinning in the third turn of the 1.5-mile track.
Kyle Larson held the lead on the final restart with four laps remaining in the first segment. He was able to hold off Denny Hamlin to win the opening stage.
Tire Troubles Lead to a Record 13 Cautions
Drivers continued to have issues coming into the second stage. Ricky Stenhouse Jr held the lead for the first eleven laps, but he eventually fell off the pace. Harrison Burton was able to control the top spot until Christopher Bell lost a tire and spun into the wall coming off the fourth turn.
Chase Elliott jumped out front coming out of the caution where he led around 25 laps. On lap 168, Cody Ware spun and hit the wall hard in the fourth turn to bring out another caution. Chase Elliott and Chris Buescher also wrecked shortly after ending both of their days. Before the race ends, drivers will see a record 13 cautions at Texas.
After Chris Buescher’s incident, Ryan Blaney controlled the restart with nine laps remaining. He was able to clear the field to close out the second stage with the victory.
Tyler Reddick Avoids Tire Troubles to Win at Texas
Tyler Reddick made an early pass on Michael McDowell for the lead to begin the third stage. Drivers continued to lose control as Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr had separate incidents, losing track position and taking them out of the race respectively. Ricky Stenhouse Jr returned for a short stint before Tyler Reddick once again passed him for the lead.
The race ran green for 20 laps before Stenhouse Jr spun around from third place. On the restart, Tyler Reddick continued to set the pace. He was able to avoid all the tire issues to close out the remaining 23 laps in the race and win at Texas Motor Speedway. Reddick becomes the fourth non-playoff driver to win in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff.
Tyler Reddick’s win comes a week too late as he has already been knocked out of the playoffs in the Round of 16 elimination race at Bristol. Regardless, the win was solid in a grueling race of attrition. Reddick’s win still leaves the playoff standings wide open with two races left in the Round of 12.
Alex Bowman and Christopher Bell had the worst luck in the Cup Series playoff field. With both wrecking out early in Sunday’s race, they are basically in a must-win situation.
Closer to the cutline, the points are much closer. Daniel Suarez and Chase Elliott both sit four points above. Chase Briscoe is four points under with Austin Cindric at 11 points under the cutline.
With Talladega next up on Sunday, the playoff picture will most likely be completely different.
Bell and Bowman will have to be smart to find a win and survive the carnage that comes at Talladega Superspeedway. The 2.66-mile track is known for ruining the hopes of championship contenders, and someone will surely feel that pain next Sunday.