23XL Toyota driver Tyler Reddick took a 2-lap shootout win in the Hollywood Casino 400 NASCAR Cup playoff race at Kansas Speedway.
Reddick held off a charging fellow Toyota driver Denny Hamlin by 0.327s in a final sprint to the flag after a late caution when Chris Buescher became the latest victim of a Goodyear exploding tire.
Reddick was one of several drivers to take four tires on the final pitstop and came from 5th on the restart to charge to the lead on the bottom with one lap to go.
Reddick led only the final two laps in the 268-lap event
Hamlin had the fastest car late in the race and was headed to victory before that final restart. Hamlin blew the win because he once again tried to screw Kyle Larson on the final restart, and he let Reddick get away for the win.
Who can forget Hamlin crashing Larson out in the Spring Race. Larson led the most laps, but a spin put him back, and he had to fight to get back up toward the front.
Beaten by a car he owns, Hamlin took the defeat philosophically. The second-place run leaves him 49 points ahead of teammate Martin Truex Jr., the first driver below the current Round of 12 cut line.
“Well, the 5 (Kyle Larson, behind Hamlin in the top lane for the final restart) was just laying back so much,” Hamlin said. “I was trying to back up to him. Should have just kind of focused forward, probably.
“It gave the 45 (Reddick) an opportunity to get up there in front of us. Just kind of sleeping on the restart, looking in the rearview instead of looking in the front.
“Just another really, really fast car – just didn’t need that caution at the end.”
With the win, Reddick and Larson, the winner last weekend at Darlington, are the two drivers guaranteed to advance to the next round of the playoffs.
Erik Jones came home third ahead of Larson, with Joey Logano rounding out the top-5.
A handful of playoff-eligible drivers found trouble in the 400-miler, with Toyota drivers Martin Truex Jr. and Bubba Wallace suffering the most dramatic setbacks. Truex, the regular-season champ, completed just three laps before a tire puncture forced his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing entry into the outside wall. He finished last in the 36-car field.
Martin Truex Jr. finished last when his Goodyear tire exploded.
With the suspension on his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota damaged beyond repair, Truex retired to the garage in 36th place and fell seven points below the cut line for the Round of 12.
“Just unfortunate and very unlucky,” Truex said after exiting the infield care center. “I took off really tight, and I knew something was up, and then cut a right rear. Not really sure what happened, obviously, but it blew in the worst place possible.
“I hate it for my guys. We had an awesome Bass Pro Toyota Camry. We were going to have a great day, just not sure what we need to do to get some luck here.”
Q. You are through to the Round of 12, Tyler.
TYLER REDDICK: I knew Newman said I could get my hand off my wheel, but I got my body out doing that burnout.
But just an outstanding job by this whole 23XI team. We had really good pace, but just couldn’t get ahead of Denny there, but chaos ensued, people stayed out, some took two tires, and the bottom lane opened up. Pretty crazy.
Q. Describe going from fifth to first, and like you said, they were on all kinds of different strategies. You had the four fresh.
TYLER REDDICK: Yeah, four fresh tires and sitting in there and slide up. Just hats off, like I said, to everybody at 23XI. This Toyota Camry TRD had a lot of pace, and we’ve had really fast cars with this Money Alliance scheme, and it’s really great to get it back to Victory Lane.
Q. Showing everybody else, too, that the 45 is to be reckoned with all the way to Phoenix?
TYLER REDDICK: Well, I hope so. I just think we came here in the spring, I broke the streak, and I didn’t get the 45 back in Victory Lane, so I came back here motivated to get it where it belongs.
Q. What happened on that final restart? Looked like you didn’t get going.
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, the 5 was just laying back so much. I was trying to back up to him. Should have just kind of focused forward probably. It gave the 45 an opportunity to get up there in front of us. Just kind of sleeping on the restart, looking in the rear view instead of looking in the front.
Hats off to the Yahoo team, Camry TRD team, just another really, really fast car, just didn’t need that caution at the end.
|1||45||Tyler Reddick (P)||—||268|
|2||11||Denny Hamlin (P)||0.327||268|
|4||5||Kyle Larson (P)||0.642||268|
|5||22||Joey Logano (P)||0.823||268|
|6||9||Chase Elliott (P)||1.300||268|
|7||8||Kyle Busch (P)||1.330||268|
|8||20||Christopher Bell (P)||1.570||268|
|9||6||Brad Keselowski (P)||1.656||268|
|11||4||Kevin Harvick (P)||1.886||268|
|12||12||Ryan Blaney (P)||1.939||268|
|13||1||Ross Chastain (P)||2.038||268|
|14||54||Ty Gibbs #||2.043||268|
|15||24||William Byron (P)||2.253||268|
|23||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (P)||5.903||268|
|26||34||Michael McDowell (P)||-1||267|
|27||17||Chris Buescher (P)||-1||267|
|32||23||Bubba Wallace (P)||-4||264|
|36||19||Martin Truex Jr. (P)||-265||3|