Tyler Reddick steals Hollywood Casino 400 win, punches ticket to Round of 12
FiredUp Network Sports Writer
Monday, September 11, 2023
Photo Credit: Yahoo! Sports
While 23XI Racing only has three wins in its short time in the NASCAR Cup Series, two of them had came at Kansas Speedway.
First, it was Kurt Busch who earned his last ever win in the spring race of 2022, before Bubba Wallace switched to the No. 45 car and won the fall race that same year. Then, team-owner Denny Hamlin, albeit racing for Joe Gibbs Racing, won the spring race at Kansas in 2023.
Whatever it is, something about Kansas suits this Toyota squad. Come the 2023 fall race, they wouldn't be denied.
After Hamlin dominated the late stages of the Hollywood Casino 400, a late caution saw some drivers, namely Erik Jones, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch take two tires on the final stop. That opened the door for Tyler Reddick to jump Hamlin in the pack, make a three-wide pass for the lead coming to the white flag, and steal the victory for his second win of the season.
The win was 23XI's fourth win in NASCAR, and remarkably, it's third at Kansas with three different drivers. Toyota as a whole has now won seven of the last nine races at the speedway. Reddick's win makes him the second driver to have officially advanced to the Round of 12.
Finishing second was his boss Hamlin, who was seemingly caught sleeping on the overtime restart, allowing Reddick and others to sneak through. Despite losing a sure victory, it was a solid result to rebound from his 25th place effort last week at Darlington, and keep a solid points cushion.
Third was Jones in the No. 43 Legacy Motor Club Chevy. The team run by Jimmie Johnson, whose struggles have been well-documented all season, earned its best result of 2023. Jones ran up front all day long, and nearly won the race with a two-tire call at the end.
Fourth was Kyle Larson, who led the most laps of anybody in the field, fell towards the back on a poor strategy call to stay out of the pits in Stage 2, before climbing back up to the top five. Another big-time finish for the other driver guaranteed a spot in the next round.
Joey Logano came home fifth after a rough day was salvaged by taking two-tires for overtime. He nearly won the race too, before his and Jones' great battle allowed Reddick to come by.
Chase Elliott finished sixth after leading laps, ahead of Kyle Busch in seventh, Christopher Bell in eighth, Stage 2 winner Brad Keselowski in ninth, and Alex Bowman in tenth.
As for the rest of the playoff drivers, Kevin Harvick finished eleventh after having solid pace despite reported balancing issues all day, while Ryan Blaney fell to 12th after being in the top ten most of the afternoon.
Ross Chastain had a quiet 13th place run, while William Byron finished 15th after an early spin damaged his rear diffuser. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ended 23rd, Michael McDowell finished 26th after a fuel strategy gamble didn't fall his way at the end, and Chris Buescher came home 27th after a right rear tire failure ended a top ten run.
The two biggest underdogs McDowell and Stenhouse Jr. are both well below the cut-line after Kansas, and head into the final race of the first round in a must-win situation.
But the big stories were the two Toyotas of regular season champion Martin Truex Jr. and Bubba Wallace. Truex Jr. started third on the grid, and fell outside the top 20 in the opening few laps with an extremely tight race car, before blowing a right-front and hitting the turn 3 wall to end his day 36th.
Meanwhile, Wallace was running comfortably in second place, looking to potentially repeat at Kansas to advance to the next round, before he blew a right-rear tire, and subsequently suffered a bent toe link to finish well off the pace in 32nd.
Both drivers are now below the Round of 12 cut-line heading into the final race of the opening round at Bristol Motor Speedway. Should Truex Jr. be eliminated, it would be a massive upset given how many points he was ahead of the elimination zone just two races ago with the great season he's had.
1. Kyle Larson (advanced)
2. Tyler Reddick (advanced)
3. Denny Hamlin (+49)
4. William Byron (+41)
5. Brad Keselowski (+33)
6. Ryan Blaney (+25)
7. Kyle Busch (+24)
8. Ross Chastain (+18)
9. Chris Buescher (+13)
10. Christopher Bell (+13)
11. Joey Logano (+12)
12. Kevin Harvick (+7)
13. Martin Truex Jr. (-7)
14. Bubba Wallace (-19)
15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-22)
16. Michael McDowell (-40)