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Reddick gives Big Machine Racing 1st NASCAR Xfinity victory

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

By STEPHEN HAWKINS

AP Sports Writer

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Cup regular Tyler Reddick led the final 31 laps of the NASCAR Xfinity race at Texas after a two-car pass Saturday, giving second-year team Big Machine Racing its first victory and ending a three-race streak in which three different JR Motorsports drivers took the checkered flag.

Reddick finished 1.8 seconds ahead of William Byron, who was driving for JR Motorsports in his first Xfinity race since he was the series champion for that team at 19 years old in 2017. Byron moved up to Cup the next year for Rick Hendrick, who has an ownership stake in JR Motorsports with Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Big Machine Racing is owned by music mogul and seasoned racer Scott Borchetta, who has driven in the sports car Trans-Am Series. He found the musical Big Machine Label Group in 2005, and his second-year racing team got to Victory Lane in its 45th start.

"It's a huge deal for me. I know how hard everyone at Big Machine Racing has worked to get to where they're at today, from where they started," said Reddick, who was in his second race trying to help the team make its cars better.

On lap 137 at the 1 1/2-mile Texas track, Reddick took the lead in the No. 48 Chevrolet by getting by Austin Hill and Brandon Jones through the backstretch. That came just before the 11th and final caution of the race when Alex Labbe got loose in the fourth turn in an incident that collected six other cars. There were 62 caution laps in the 167-lap race.

It was the 10th career Xfinity victory for Reddick, his first since being the series champ in 2018 and 2019 prior to becoming a full-time Cup driver.

Reddick first drove for Big Machine Racing in the previous Xfinity race at Darlington two weeks ago, and led two laps.

"We were really fast and just made a mistake late in the going ... really early in that race, got a lot of damage to our car," Reddick said. "So for us to bounce back after how Darlington went, this was really, really important to come out and run good here. ... It's pretty cool that we were able to, after Darlington, go to work and next time out here we are sitting with the trophy."

Pole-sitter Noah Gragson led the first 22 laps and 33 overall, but ended up in the wall on the eighth restart of the day after JR Motorsports teammate Josh Berry got sideways out in front of the field.

Ty Gibbs and Gragson came together trying to avoid that fray, then were hit from behind and into the wall. Gragson pitted for some repairs, but was done for good 10 laps later when a blown tire sent the rear of the No. 9 Chevrolet hard into the wall.

Gragson was 36th in the 38-car field, his worst finish in this season after being fourth or better in eight of the first 11 races.

Gragson won the first stage, and Berry the second to give JR Motorsports eight consecutive stage victories - a sweep over the past four races. The team had four drivers combined to lead 119 laps Saturday, but it was the first race in that stretch without winning, with Justin Allgaier, Josh Berry and Gragson taking the past three.

JR Motorsports driver Sam Mayer was third, and the highest-finishing Xfinity Series regular. Allgaier was fourth, ahead of Austin Hill, Ryan Truex, Berry, Riley Herbst, A.J. Allmendinger and Landon Cassil.

Allmendinger has finished in the top 10 in all 12 races this season, even after missing practice Friday because of tech issues.

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Updated May 21, 2022

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