Tyler Reddick, eliminated from NASCAR’s postseason last week, found the checkers Sunday to win the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.
In the NASCAR Cup Series’ first Round of 12 race, which will be followed by races at Talladega Superspeedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway’s road course before the next round of cuts, it was non-playoff driver Reddick and his Chevrolet who drove to victory lane for the third time in 2022.
A multitude of blown tires, plus a nearly one-hour rain delay on a long day-into-night in the hot Lone Star State, hampered the racing at TMS, which set a new record with 16 cautions.
Driving the No. 8, which will be piloted by Kyle Busch in 2023, Reddick said he didn’t know if the tires would hold up on the way to his first career oval win.
“I was extremely worried, I’m not going to lie,” said the Richard Childress Racing driver, who finished 25th and fell below the cut line last Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. “On that last run, the right sides were vibrating really, really hard.”
Joey Logano, Justin Haley, Ryan Blaney and Chase Briscoe completed the top five.
Christopher Bell was the first playoff contender to have problems in the 334-lap race when he cut a right rear tire on Lap 78 to bring out the fourth caution period.
Championship competitor Alex Bowman — running in the top 10 — soon followed suit on Lap 97, losing control of his No. 48 Chevrolet and crashing into the wall in Turn 4.
Bell — who had maneuvered his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota back to seventh — wrecked the No. 20 between Turns 3 and 4. He then was forced to retire his Rheem-sponsored Camry.
“We were hoping to get out of here with a good points day and be able to ride around at Talladega (next week) and survive the race,” said Bell, who finished 34th. “Now, it looks like we’re going to go there and try to race.”
The race’s most frightening wreck occurred on Lap 168 when Cody Ware’s No. 51 Ford struck the Turn 4 wall hard, roared out of control down pit road and slammed the wall of Bowman’s No. 48 pit stall — fortunately vacant at the time.
Ware slowly got out of the car and had to be tended to on pit road. He was taken to the TMS infield care center and later released.
While leading the race on Lap 184, playoff points leader Chase Elliott smacked the wall after his right rear tire started to come apart. He ended up 32nd.
“We’ll go to Talladega and try to survive over there and get a win next week,” said Elliott, the 2020 champion, of the high-speed, dangerous Alabama superspeedway.
Blaney collected the 10 playoff points for winning Stage 2.