OBSERVATIONS: MoneyLion 300 at Talladega Superspeedway
Every driver for themselves, trying to do whatever it takes to get to the front of the field with making sure to time every single move they make right. That is the critical to being successful with the NASCAR Xfinity Series restrictor plate package which sees everybody equal right through the field with consistent three-wide racing.
Those who followed through were rewarded on Saturday afternoon.
From the drop of the green flag, three drivers showed the determination to make whatever move was necessary – Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe, and Austin Cindric. They were rewarded when the checkered flag flew in the MoneyLion 300 with top-five finishes.
Of those three drivers, Reddick pushed the boundaries throughout the event. Sometimes he went a little too far, as notable with his contact with the outside wall during the second stage. Though despite whatever was thrown at him, he showed a constant stream of determined aggressiveness to make his way back to the front on each occasion. His move at the end to get the run on Christopher Bell with 10 to go, followed by blocking Briscoe, were the icing on the cake for the win.
Reddick has often been criticized for his all-or-nothing driving style. It got him into trouble on a couple occasions last year as he threw away races that many believed he should have won. However, he continues to show that it works for him as recall, he won the championship last year for JR Motorsports. Now he could be the perfect driver to put Richard Childress Racing in the conversation this year alongside Joe Gibbs Racing’s Bell and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Custer.
Bell appeared to be in the catbird seat for his third victory of the season, but proved late on a pair of his blocks during the final 30 laps to secure the advantage. It was like irony in watching the driver known for being aggressive everywhere else be almost a bit conservative on Saturday afternoon.
It was also odd to not see a JR Motorsports entry not in the conversation at the end of the event as they have dominated the restrictor plate events in the Xfinity Series for the past couple of seasons. However, Daytona winner Michael Annett and Justin Allgaier were taken out in a wreck together, while Noah Gragson suffered contact with the inside wall. Gragson was their highest finisher in 11th at the checkered flag.
If you are making early picks for the next restrictor plate race, you will want to include the three aggressive drivers from Saturday – but don’t forget about Allgaier. He’s the best driver in the series on the plate tracks to not have a win on his record yet. Saturday’s 28th-place finish marked his first outside of the top-eight at Talladega since 2010. He’s also shown the same ability at Daytona, despite his statistics being up-and-down, seemingly always finding a wreck while up front at the end of these races.
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