PLYMOUTH, Wis. – It was a dogfight between two pilots, pure and simple.
It was Tyler Reddick who beat pole winner Chase Elliott in the intense mano-a-mano battle of Sunday’s Kwik Trip 250 at Road America.
The win was Reddick’s first in the NASCAR Cup Series, making him the fifth winner this season. As the 13th different winner this year, Reddick reduced the Playoff bubble by one position.
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With seven races remaining before the cutoff race at Daytona, there are currently three playoff positions available on points. Reddick’s victory knocked 10th-placed Kevin Harvick below the playoff line.
Elliott dominated the first two stages but failed to win either, opting to stop before the end of the races to preserve his track position. And on the final green-flag pitstop on lap 44 of 62, Elliott narrowly beat Reddick off pit road to start the final green-flag race.
But Reddick kept Elliott in his sights.
“I knew he was fast, but we could stick with him for the long haul, which told me that if we cycled through that last one…that pit streak, we’d be close or around him (on pit road), (and ) we would have a big shot.
“I couldn’t quite get around it. We were close at hand. Luckily I just waited for the right opportunity and was able to take advantage of it in turn 6.”
In effect. Reddick closed in on Elliott on Lap 46 and pulled ahead of the #9 Chevrolet into Turn 5, getting the nose of his #8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet next to the left rear panel of Elliott’s car.
Reddick even raced up the hill in Turn 6 left and cleared Elliott from the corner. Elliott fought back in turns 7 and 8, but Reddick cleared into the carousel.
At the time, the pass was for third place, as Denny Hamlin and Harrison Burton still had pit stops to make. On lap 47, Reddick passed Burton for the lead and gradually pulled away in the closing laps.
He crossed the finish line 3.304 seconds ahead of Elliott and 21.138 seconds ahead of third-placed Kyle Larson.
Reddick, who was 100 yards from victory at the Bristol Dirt Track in April when Chase Briscoe overshot the final corner and flipped him sideways, couldn’t have picked a better spot to pick up his maiden victory.
“What better place than Road America?” Reddick said. “I love the fans. I love this race track. Being here on the 4th of July weekend is so special, and just a huge thank you to (sponsor) 3Chi and the special paint scheme we had this weekend -end.
“I love that they come on board this year and try their luck with a youngster like me, and we did. We won a race.
Elliott took second with grace, acknowledging the mistakes he made in the final run.
“First off, congratulations to him,” Elliott said. “I know he came very close to that first win, and I’ve been down that road, and it can be tough. I’m happy for these guys. They deserve it.
“For us, just proud of our NAPA team. I didn’t do a very good job there. I just let it stay close enough to put the pressure on me there when we had decent tires and could never get enough of a gap. I made a few mistakes. I was gaining a gap there a few times and made a few mistakes and let it come back close enough to get me out of sync and then after that I started to struggle.
“Obviously it was super hard to get to someone to pass him. It was impressive that he was able to get up there and capitalize on my mistakes. … I felt like we probably needed by a bit, but I think we were good enough to win, so it still hurts.
MORE: Elliott leads most laps, takes second place
Trackhouse Racing teammates Ross Chastain and Daniel Suárez finished fourth and fifth respectively, as the Chevrolets swept the top five spots.
Chris Buescher, Austin Cindric, Michael McDowell, AJ Allmendinger and Harvick rounded out the top 10. Martin Truex Jr. drove the top-ranked Toyota to a 13th-place finish.
Briscoe, who started second, won Stage 1 and Ryan Blaney took the Stage 2 victory, which took him to five stage wins this season. Blaney finished 11th with Briscoe 14th.
The next NASCAR Cup Series race is scheduled for next Sunday (3 p.m. ET, US, NBC Sports app, PRN, SiriusXM) at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Remarks: So far this season, all three road courses have produced first-time winners: Chastain at Circuit of the Americas and Suárez at Sonoma Raceway in addition to Reddick. … Harvick trails Christopher Bell by 20 points for the final playoff-eligible position. Elliott leads the series standings by 33 points over Blaney. … Elliott led a race-high 36 laps. Reddick led the last 16. … Reddick’s victory was also the first for his team leader, Randall Burnett.
The post-race inspection was completed at the NASCAR Cup Series garage at Road America without any major issues, confirming Reddick as the race winner.
Input: Staff Reports