2018 Memorable Moments Countdown No. 1: Reddick’s Wild Ride Gives JRM Two Straight NXS Championships

Ron Lemasters | 12/21/2018

2018 Memorable Moments News Tyler Reddick XFINITY Series

From winning by inches at Daytona to hoisting the big trophy in Miami, Tyler Reddick's championship run is our most memorable moment of 2018.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Dec. 21, 2018) – Tyler Reddick joined JR Motorsports in 2018 to take over the defending championship-winning No. 9 car driven by William Byron in 2017. A rookie himself, Reddick was fresh off an 18-race stint in the series in which he’d already won a race, and hopes were high that he could do the same for the team owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kelley Earnhardt Miller and Rick Hendrick.

As it turned out, Reddick won two races...and the second straight NASCAR Xfinity Series championship for JRM. It was also the third overall for the organization and the third won by a rookie driver. Chase Elliott (2014) and William Byron (2017) won their titles in conjunction with earning Rookie of the Year honors, as did Reddick.

The 22-year-old Californian started off his career with the team in historic fashion with a record-setting victory at Daytona International Speedway in the season opener. He and teammate Elliott Sadler battled on the final lap, with Reddick throwing blocks on Ryan Truex to stay the leader of the top line heading to Turn 3. Sadler, an excellent restrictor-plate racer, had the preferred low line off the final corner, but Reddick kept his foot in the gas and was side-by-side coming to the checkered flag.

As they broke for home, Reddick dived his BurgerFi Chevrolet down toward Sadler to side-draft, and the two crossed the finish line in what was apparently a dead heat. It wasn’t...Reddick won the race by 0.0004 seconds, the closest margin of victory in NASCAR history regardless of series. The fact that it came in a race that featured five overtimes was impressive as well.

After that, what could the young driver do to top it? It took 32 more races to find out.

Reddick, who by virtue of that memorable debut victory was already qualified for the NXS Playoffs, had 25 races to figure things out before the elimination style playoff format began. Working with defending championship crew chief Dave Elenz, the pair had ups and downs on the road to the Playoffs and started the seven-race stint to determine the champion as almost an afterthought and certainly held underdog status among the 12-driver field.

What do underdogs do well? They surprise you. Reddick played that script into a championship in the winner-take-all final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway...which is also in Florida. Reddick put together a solid run to the Championship 4, emerging as the lone JRM representative in the final quest for the big trophy. Sadler and Justin Allgaier, who won the regular-season championship and five races during the season, were not able to advance to the finale after having been in it the past two seasons.

As the race went on at Homestead, it looked as if the title would come down to Christopher Bell and Cole Custer. Looks can be deceiving.

Reddick had said that his path to the championship would be up next to the wall on the 1.5-mile Homestead layout, and for a 22-year-old, he proved remarkably prescient.

Elenz called Reddick to pit road under green one lap later than Bell, on lap 144, and that set the No. 9 team up for success. Once he got off pit road, Reddick put his Chevrolet—carrying the same BurgerFi paint scheme he’d won with in February at Daytona—on the high line, inches off the wall, where he never wavered. Custer was the leader, having not yet pitted, and Reddick had a lot of ground to make up.

When Custer did come for tires and fuel, on lap 148, Reddick was still on the march. As Custer exited pit road with fresh tires, Reddick blazed past entering Turn 1. Bell was the leader, by virtue of pitting a lap earlier, and it took several laps to make up ground. When Reddick, still in the high line, caught up, Bell tried to take the outside away, but could not keep the spot. Reddick swept around the top side off Turn 4 with 37 laps remaining.

In the closing laps, Reddick bolted out nearly seven seconds over Custer to take the checkered flag and post a bookend to the season and earn the championship to boot.

That put a huge exclamation point on the 2018 season for Reddick and for JRM. Two straight championships in a business where winning is all that matters is a memorable moment for the ages.

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • February 16 02:30 PM ET
    Daytona 300Daytona International Speedway
  • February 23 02:00 PM ET
    Rinnai 250Atlanta Motor Speedway
  • March 2 04:00 PM ET
    Boyd Gaming 300Las Vegas Motor Speedway
  • March 9 04:00 PM ET
    Xfinity Series 200 at PhoenixISM Raceway
  • March 16 05:00 PM ET
    Xfinity Series 300 at FontanaAuto Club Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Ford EcoBoost 300*

Homestead-Miami Speedway | 11/17/2018
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Tyler Reddick (P)40400
2Cole Custer (P)4035-5
3Daniel Hemric (P)4033-7
4Christopher Bell # (P)4026-14
5Elliott Sadler2255-1785
6Matt Tifft2254-1786
7Justin Allgaier2251-1789
14Michael Annett632-3408