OBSERVATIONS: Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
While the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series continues to explore different packages to make the racing better, it seems the NASCAR Xfinity Series has the right method to the madness.
The hot temperatures on the Charlotte, North Carolina afternoon produced a slick race track, in return delivering the fans a show. With drivers searching for grip through the beginning stages of the event by using the middle lane that was coated in the traction compound, to trying to run as close to the wall as possible in the later half, there was a never a dull moment during the Alsco 300.
It also seems the flange-fit composite bodies being made mandatory for the 2019 season has made a big difference. While a bit of wall contact used to end someone’s day in the past, there is now the possibility to receive repairs and make a comeback. As a result, fans were entertained with seeing whether their favorite driver would be able to drive through the field, like Jeffrey Earnhardt overcoming a spin for a third-place finish.
As the tide continued to turn, nobody was able to throw Tyler Reddick off of his game. The master of rim-riding rose to the top in dominating fashion, pacing 110 of the 200 laps en route to winning the event. The defending series champion had a rough campaign en route to surprising at the year-end with the title last year. However, it seems he is leaving nothing to chance in using the lessons learned to finish races and do so up front.
His performance only shined that much more by the struggles of his closest competitors in the title hunt – Cole Custer and Christopher Bell. Custer finished 24th after contact with the outside wall late, while Bell placed 31st after running over debris and blowing a tire.
Ideally, though, Bell could’ve made his situation better by electing to head down pit road rather than ride around under caution with the flat, allowing it to blow the fender apart as it tore to shreds. His teammate Brandon Jones made the smarter decision in pitting immediately, and was able to fight back to run top-five late in the race before fading to 10th on older tires late.
The issues for both Bell and Jones could’ve been prevented if a caution for debris on the track was thrown by NASCAR. It seems that the sanctioning body missed the boat a couple times on Saturday, as they failed to throw the yellow flag late in the first stage for the same reason, resulting in nose damage for Custer.
Kaulig Racing also raised a couple red flags today with their decisions. Austin Dillon had to get out of the car with 40 laps to go as a result of his ribs getting too hot from the heat, and carbon dioxide from crush panels being pushed in due to wall contact. The team elected to put Daniel Hemric in the car when Dillon’s complaints began. If you know there’s an issue, why would you put a driver in that is also scheduled like Dillon to run 600 miles on Sunday?
On the flip side, it seems that JR Motorsports knows what they are doing as they placed all four of their entries in the top-seven at the checkered flag. Justin Allgaier led the way with a runner-up after taking four fresh tires late, while Noah Gragson overcame a pit road penalty to finish fourth.
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