BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) — Tyler Reddick trailed Cole Custer and Christopher Bell during the latter stages of this NASCAR Xfinity Series race.
There was no need to try to pass them.
"As much as I wanted to run down the guys in front of us, it became very obvious that they weren't going to make it on fuel," Reddick said.
Sure enough, Custer and Bell had to make pit stops, and Reddick took the lead with about 10 laps remaining. It was smooth sailing the rest of the way for Reddick at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday. He won for the third time in the past five races and the sixth time in his career.
Reddick increased his series points lead to 89 over the second-place Bell.
"We just had to run our race at the end there and just make sure we saved enough fuel, in case we had an overtime at the end of the race, but it didn't fall that way," Reddick said.
Noah Gragson battled to a second-place finish, followed by Michael Annett and Paul Menard.
Menard, the pole winner, won the first stage, and Bell won the second stage. Reddick won the 125-lap, 250-mile race by 1.5 seconds in his No. 2 Chevrolet — although he did not lead until lap 115. Menard led a race-high 56 laps.
Custer ended up 12th and Bell was 13th.
"We had a really fast Mustang. I really wanted to win here for Ford in their backyard and everything," Custer said. "We got the track position and got up front and I think we had the best car here. I don't know how much the 2 was saving there but the strategy just didn't work out for us. That one kind of stings but I definitely feel like we had a fast car."
Reddick has finished in the top 10 in every race but one this season. He had six top-five showings before his first win, at Talladega.
"To be that good every single race, my confidence going into the race ... is just higher than it's ever been before," he said. "Even when things don't go our way, we're still having fun. If we have a bad stop or we slide through, we're not freaking out. It's not the end of the world, because we know we're good enough as a group to get back up there."
Crew chief Randall Burnett seconded that.
"We have a lot of fun." Burnett said. "He slid through the box that first stop a little bit. Instead of making a big deal out of it, we asked him if he could reach the brake pedal. So we were just teasing him a little bit. We like to have fun. We take it very seriously, but I think we work well because we like to have fun and we know we've got each other's backs. He's done an incredible job this year."
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