HOMESTEAD, Fla — Myatt Snider continued the recent theme of first time winners in NASCAR. The Richard Childress Racing driver becomes the second straight first time victor in the Xfinity Series as he bested Tyler Reddick by just .085-seconds in a Saturday night thriller.
Snider, learned from the first overtime restart to capitalize on the second. He spun his tires on the first attempt on Lap 172 which allowed Reddick by. Shortly after though, AJ Allmendinger spun in Turn 1 to bring out the eighth and final caution of Saturday’s Contender Boats 250.
On the second overtime restart, Reddick chose the top lane. Most thought it was the best lane for him. The California native has had so much success up top at the Homestead-Miami Speedway and you’re giving him the top lane on what was the final restart.
The low lane had to block a run on the inside as well as hope no one came through the middle as well. That’s where Snider restarted from in his No. 2 Chevrolet.
But, Snider learned from spinning his tires on the first attempt to get a better launch the next time around and cleared Reddick by time they exited Turn 2. He’d lead the final two laps en route to his first victory in his 36th career NXS start.
“Yeah, I guess I learned my lesson on that first restart, ‘cause I spun the wheels,” said Snider, who won in his 36th start in the series. “Then I saw Tyler spin the wheels on the next one, and I knew I might have a chance.
“Just a shout-out to all these RCR guys, (sponsor) Taxslayer, all these people that supported me over the years. It’s been a rough journey, but we’re here with a win, and I can’t complain.”
Last Saturday it was Ty Gibbs winning at Daytona in what was his first career NXS start overall. Reddick though, joins Austin Cindric as playoff contenders with Gibbs not running full time this year.
Reddick, initially finished runner-up for his eighth top four result in as many tries at Homestead. He was sixth, third and second respectively in the Truck Series before finishing fourth, first and first respectively between 2017-2019 in Xfinity competition. He was fourth as a rookie in Cup last year before coming back to NXS on Saturday to finish runner-up. Unfortunately, his No. 23 Chevrolet failed Post Race inspection for ride heights and was a DNQ.
Brandon Jones finished third in his No. 19 Toyota while Daniel Hemric and Jeb Burton rounded out the top five. Here are my main takeaways with how Snider was victorious.
Chaos At The End, How Snider Got In Position For The Win
It was looking like this was going to be Noah Gragson’s race to lose. The JR Motorsports driver didn’t hit pit lane during the caution for Stefan Parsons during the second stage which allowed him to save an extra set of tires for the final stage. It was a gamble, but he’d still finish third in the second stage.
Now, with one extra set, he was in the front runners seat for the win. Gragson though, had contact with Snider not long after the restart to start the final stage and not only had some left rear damage, he had some right side damage from getting into the Turn 3 SAFER barrier as a result.
His momentum stalled, but as luck would have it, a caution came out for his teammate Justin Allgaier when he tried to clear Riley Herbst off Turn 2 on Lap 97 and brought out the fifth yellow of the day. Gragson, hit pit lane with the rest of the field on that ensuing caution but had a lengthy stop for repairs. He’d restart on Lap 102 in 27th place. Seven laps later though, he was back inside the top 10. Still, he had one extra set of tires left compared to the others.
Gragson, got a caution on Lap 109 to help bunch the field back up. Due to everyone just pitting on Lap 99, only Brett Moffitt among the main contenders hit pit road. Like Gragson, he had an extra set of tires left on the rest of the field and he chose to take it. That paid off too.
As the final run went on, Gragson and Moffitt pounced. They’d end up 1-2 in the end, with Moffitt passing AJ Allmendinger for the top spot on Lap 130. Then, Gragson got him on Lap 136. They’d battle for the lead over the final laps, but lapped cars altered the show from there on out.
A lapped car got in Moffitt’s way with 10 to go and he got into the SAFER barrier. He cut a tire as a result and had to pit. Now, Gragson who was running low on fuel, was over 8 seconds up on second place Reddick.
He could slow down and save fuel in hopes of getting to the checkered flag. While doing so, David Starr slid up in front of him in Turn 3 and he had no where to go but ram into the back of Starr. The end of the night for the leader now which handed the lead to Reddick under caution with three to go.
“What are you going to do,” Gragson said after a visit to the infield care center. “We dominated the last three races here, including this one, and have stuff like that (happen). We were saving fuel. I was half-throttle the last 30 laps, and we were still pulling away.”
Snider, had a phenomenal pit stop and would win the race off pit road for the first overtime restart. After spinning his tires on the first restart, he got the better of Reddick on the second one en route to a victory.
Pit Strategy Helped An Entertaining Race – Kaulig on the wrong end of it in the end
The first stage saw a caution for Stefan Parsons on Lap 25. That set up an interesting strategy call. To pit, or not to pit? If you pit, you’d potentially have one less set of tires on everyone else in the end. If you don’t pit, you’re a lame duck.
Well, the first 19 cars on the restart didn’t pit. 20th on back did. Justin Haley restarted 20th, the first among the drivers that hit pit lane for new tires and he went from 20th to 10th in the first lap. He’d go from 10th to third on the second lap and third to first on the third one.
AJ Allmendinger came from 25th though to the lead and won the stage. Haley, was second. Daniel Hemric came from 3rd to finish third.
On the flip side, Austin Cindric started from the point as he led the first 30 laps, but faded to 14th on old tires.
The second stage saw a similar occurrence. Parsons brought out the caution on Lap 67. Now, the strategy was the opposite. The leaders up front couldn’t afford to pit and be down two sets of tires. They stayed out. Cindric, Snider, Ryan Sieg and Riley Herbst were able to.
Cindric, restarted 22nd. Sieg was 24th. Snider and Herbst restarted 25th and 26th respectively. They’d finish 1st (Cindric), 2nd (Snider), 4th (Herbst) and 7th (Sieg).
As you could see, tires were the big key. Gragson and Moffitt had two sets left for the final stage. The rest had just one.
With how the final stage played out, it left Kaulig on the wrong end of pit strategy, as they went 1-2-5 in Stage 1 to 8-9-18 in Stage 2 to 4-6-14 in the end.
Gragson Still Owed One From Homestead
Noah Gragson has to be wondering what he ever did to piss the Homestead-Miami Speedway off. He led 34 laps but didn’t win in the 2018 Truck Series race. He’d finish third. He led 10 laps but finished fourth in the Xfinity Series race in 2019. Last year, he led 83 laps in the Saturday doubleheader and 81 more on Sunday. He didn’t win either time. He came home third and fifth respectively.
On Saturday, there he was at the front again. After all the strategy plays, he was in the lead in the closing laps. Three to go, David Starr slid up in front of him and his night was over. He’d finish 33rd despite leading 34 more laps.
In the last three NXS starts at Homestead, he’s led 198 laps but has no wins to show for it.
Homestead Not A Strong Track For Allgaier
Justin Allgaier will admit that Homestead isn’t one of his better tracks. He leaves Saturday’s race with a 38th place result. He’s not had just two top 10 finishes, none of which in the top five, in 13 career NXS starts on the 1.5-mile South Florida race track. Allgaier, was 28th and 26th last year and 38th now this year.
Rough Start To 2021 For JRM, The 8 Car Their Best One So Far
JR Motorsports has had fast race cars this season. Unfortunately, the finishes won’t show it. They were all collected in crashes in the season opener at Daytona and finished 28-29-32-36. Last week on the Daytona road course, they were better, but only slightly. They were 7-15-26-28. On Saturday, it was another rough go of it. They were 10-13-33-38.
So far, their best car has been the No. 8 Chevrolet all-star car. Josh Berry led the way in his two races with a 27th place run in the season opener at Daytona and 10th on Saturday in Homestead. Miguel Paludo was seventh on the road course last week. Berry, has really no NXS experience while Paludo had not been in the series in nearly a decade.
Justin Allgaier has finished 28th, 26th and 38th in his three races. Noah Gragson has been 32nd, 28th and 33rd respectively. Michael Annett was 36th, 15th and 13th himself.
While I expect all four to contend for wins eventually, they just need to get things going on the two race west coast swing the next couple of weeks.
Cindric Scores Playoff Points For 3rd Straight Race
Austin Cindric had a great car early. He started from the pole and led the first 30 laps. He didn’t pit on that initial first race caution and it cost him. He dropped to 14th by the end of the opening stage. He’d fight back up towards the front in the second stage, but when another caution flew on Lap 67, he knew he could pit for fresh tires. It was the opposite of his Stage 1 strategy.
It paid off.
Cindric, rebounded to come from 22nd to win the second stage. It was setting up for a second win in three tries this season for him. But, a slow leak on his right front tire saw him back peddle in the final laps and he went from battling for the lead to eighth. He’d only finish fifth in the end despite leading a race-high 64 laps. He led 40 laps to finish seventh in 2019. He led 24 laps in a runner-up effort in Race 1 of last year’s doubleheader weekend in June. He led 60 more laps in the Sunday race last year to finish 10th.
Still, with a stage win, he’s now scored stage points in all three races with five for winning Daytona and one each the last two weeks for stage wins.
Cindric, has finished first, second and fifth for a solid start to the year.
Strong Starts To The Year For These Drivers
Cindric isn’t the only one with a great start to the season. The JGR tandem of Brandon Jones and Daniel Hemric are too with Jones having two straight top five finishes and Hemric also with two consecutive top five results including a top 10 in all three races.
Jeb Burton has fared even better. He’s not finished worse than fourth in any of the three races thus far.
Brett Moffitt was runner-up and 11th respectively at Daytona and rebounded to come home seventh on Saturday.
We’ve had three races run this year and all three have gone to overtime. Also, out of seven NASCAR national series races run in 2021, four of them have seen first time winners now.