Tyler Reddick takes Texas: Elliott, Bell among playoff contenders who had rough rides
Tyler Reddick took the checkered flag at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, the fourth non-playoff driver to win in four playoff runs in 2022.
Reddick beat Joey Logano to the stripe by 1.19 seconds to record his third career NASCAR Cup Series win.
“We had a lot of issues today, I’m not going to lie,’’ Reddick said, listing a number of setbacks from pit road mishaps, vibrations in his No. 8 RCR Chevrolet to holding off Logano, who has now taken the playoff lead by 12 points over Ross Chastain.
William Byron, who finished seventh, and Denny Hamlin, who finished 10th had a literal “run-in” late in the race. Byron said he felt Hamlin ran him up on track causing his No. 24 Hendrick Chevrolet to hit the Turn 2 wall and damage his car.
In retaliation, Byron bumped Hamlin’s No. 11 JGR Toyota during a caution that ended up sending Hamlin spinning into the infield.
“It was really hard contact,’’ Byron said, adding, “I didn’t mean to spin him out over there, but obviously I’m pissed off and not going to get run like that. We’ve always raced together so well, so I don’t know what it was all about.
Hamlin, 41, took exception to the hit, and tapped his Toyota into Byron’s Chevy multiple times after his infield spin. He still appeared miffed after the race.
“I don’t think we touched, but obviously he sent us through the infield under caution,’’ Hamlin said.
There were a record 36 lead changes and a record 16 caution periods – including a 56-minute red flag period for rain just after Ryan Blaney claimed the Stage 2 victory.
Chase Elliott had tire issues and finished 32nd, dropping him to seventh in points, only four points above the cut-off line heading to Race 2 of this three-race championship round at Talladega next weekend.
“It’s not a great position to be in for sure, but it is what it is now,” Elliott said. “I hate it for our No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet team. We were actually decent here for once, and that was nice while it lasted. We’ll go to Talladega and try to survive over there, get a win next week and go on down the road.”
Christopher Bell, who came into the race ranked sixth after turning in the best Round 1 Playoff showing of any of the 12 championship-eligible drivers, suffered tire issues that ultimately eliminated him from competition on Sunday as well, dropping him to 11th place in the playoff standings, 39 points behind eighth-place Daniel Suarez with eight drivers advancing to the next round of the playoffs.
Justin Haley finished third on the day with playoff drivers Ryan Blaney and Chase Briscoe rounding out the Top-5.
Erik Jones, Byron, polesitter 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 Suarez 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.
The second race of this Round of 12 comes Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway in the YellaWood 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Bubba Wallace is the defending race winner. Chastain won at Talladega this April.