NASCAR: Reddick, Gragson win in Texas

(Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service/MRN) They say everything is “bigger” in Texas and certainly NASCAR‘s Round of 12 Playoff opener at Texas Motor Speedway lived up to the billing. From Playoff consequences to a red-flag delay to bumper-banging aggression, tire fall-off and record statistical marks, there was no shortage of competitive drama in Sunday‘s AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500.

Ultimately Richard Childress Racing‘s Tyler Reddick prevailed as race winner — taking the green flag by 1.190 seconds over Team Penske‘s Joey Logano in a final 24-lap green flag run to the checkered flag. It was the 26-year-old Californian’s third career victory and first win on an oval after claiming trophies on two road courses earlier this season.

“We had a lot of issues today, I‘m not going to lie,” Reddick said with a smile, listing a number of setbacks from pit-road mishaps, vibrations in his No. 8 RCR Chevrolet to holding off a hard-charging Logano, who has now taken the NASCAR Cup Series championship lead by 12 points over Trackhouse Racing driver Ross Chastain.

The outcome made it four straight wins for drivers without championship eligibility to open the postseason, denying the 12 remaining playoff drivers an automatic berth into the next round. Reddick had qualified for the 16-driver playoff field but was eliminated after last weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Justin Haley finished third on the day with playoff drivers Ryan Blaney (Team Penske) and Chase Briscoe (Stewart-Haas Racing) rounding out the top five. Erik Jones, Byron, Sunday‘s race pole-sitter Brad Keselowski, reigning series champion Kyle Larson and Hamlin rounded out the top 10.

Byron holds onto the third playoff spot, 13 points behind leader Logano. Larson is fourth (-14), followed by Blaney (-15) and Hamlin (-22).  Elliott and Sunday‘s 12th-place finisher Daniel Suárez are seventh and eighth in the Playoff standings, both 26 points behind Logano.

Briscoe, Austin Cindric, Bell and Alex Bowman (who finished 29th) round out the top 12, with Bowman 56 points behind leader Logano and 30 points out of the eighth-place position that would advance to the Round of 8.

For a complete recap of Sunday’s race, follow this link to MRN’s website.

(Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service/MRN) Noah Gragson parked his No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at the start-finish line, emerged through his car‘s roof flap and raised his arms in triumph, taking in the loud cheers from the Texas Motor Speedway grandstands as he celebrated a historic fourth consecutive NASCAR Xfinity Series victory Saturday afternoon in the Andy‘s Frozen Custard 300.

It was a series-best and career-high seventh win on the season for the 24-year-old Las Vegas native and automatically reserves his spot in the next round of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs. That fourth consecutive victory is significant historically as well — tying one of the longstanding records, set in 1983 — by Sam Ard.

Eight playoff cars finished in the top 10. Stewart-Haas Racing‘s Riley Herbst was fifth, followed by playoff driver Josh Berry (JR Motorsports), Sheldon Creed, playoff drivers Sam Mayer (JR Motorsports) and Ryan Sieg (Ryan Sieg Racing). C.J. McLaughlin was 10th — the first top 10 of his career.

With two more races remaining in this opening playoff round — at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and the Charlotte Roval road course — Gragson‘s win is an automatic berth into the next playoff round. Allmendinger and Gibbs are second and third in the standings, 26 and 27 points respectively, behind Gragson.

Eight of the 12 Playoff drivers will advance following the Roval race.

Riley Herbst (-1), Hemric (-8), Jones (-13) and Jeremy Clements (-29) whose car retired early with an engine issue, now find themselves in the bottom four of the playoff standings going to Talladega.

For a recap of Saturday’s race in Texas, follow this link to MRN’s website.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:30 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, and cats Oliver, Bow and Libby.

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