Tyler Reddick cruised to his first NASCAR Cup Series win on Sunday, continuing his season-long trend of first-time road winners.
Each of the first three road races this year had its first winner. Reddick broke through at Road America after Ross Chastain won at Circuit of the Americas and Daniel Suarez at Sonoma.
“What better place than Road America?” Reddick said. “I love the fans. I love this track. Being here on the Fourth of July weekend is just so special.”
Richard Childress Racing’s driver won by 3.304 seconds over defending champion Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports. All other drivers were more than 21 seconds behind Reddick.
Kyle Larson was third, followed by Chastain and Suarez.
Elliott was on pole and led most of the day as he looked to follow up his win last week in Nashville with another.
No one has won more than two races through the first 18 events on the Cup Series calendar. It is the first year that no one has won at least three of the first 18 races in the series.
Elliott and Reddick were both well ahead of the field before the pit stops with about 20 laps remaining in the 62-lap race. Elliott had a narrow lead over Reddick coming out of the pits, but Reddick eventually got ahead of him as they headed back to the front of the pack.
“I just waited for the right opportunity and was able to take advantage of it on the 65x corner,” Reddick said.
Reddick took the lead once all the cars in front of him pitted.
Reddick had a chance to win when he ran away at Bristol in April. Reddick and Chase Briscoe were battling for the lead that night when both cars spun out of control, allowing Kyle Busch to slip past them for the win.
“This year has been one big mistake all year,” Reddick said. “Today we finally did it.
Elliott was seeking his eighth career Cup Series win to tie Tony Stewart for second — one behind Jeff Gordon’s nine.
And he seemed well on his way to getting there.
Elliott dealt with an apparent steering problem early in the race. He complained of an apparent brake problem midway through.
Still, he was still in firm control for most of the day. Elliott did not win either of the first two stages simply because he pitted near the end of each.
Briscoe won the first stage and Ryan Blaney took the second stage.
“I think we were good enough to win,” Elliott said. “It always hurts.
Scott McLaughlin gets the win in front of his visiting parents
Scott McLaughlin scored his second career IndyCar win on Sunday, which may go down as one of the most special victories of his career.
The New Zealander won at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio with his nervous parents watching from the pit lane. McLaughlin didn’t see his family for 31 months due to the pandemic, but his parents were finally able to leave New Zealand for the Indianapolis 500 in May.
Wayne and Diane McLaughlin booked the trip to maximize their visas and schedule nine IndyCar races on their tour of the United States. It took four to see their only son drive his Team Penske to victory lane.
When he won his first street race in February in St. Petersburg, Florida, had to celebrate with his parents via FaceTime.
“I really wanted to win with mum and dad,” said McLaughlin, who has won three consecutive V8 Supercars championships in Australia.
The race took a turn when five different Chevrolet drivers dropped out with various problems and Andretti Autosport began to struggle internally.
Alexander Rossi and Romain Grosjean kept hitting wheel to wheel and their final contact took the wheel out of Rossi’s hands, leaving him unable to turn as both cars veered off course.
“What the hell is wrong with him?” Grosjean shouted.
So he was less than pleased when he later received team orders to help Rossi finish.
“What do you want me to do? Just block everyone behind me and not continue?” Grosjean asked.
When he said yes, Andretti Autosport expected Grosjean to hold up traffic to help his teammates, the Frenchman declined.
“Because Rossi put me in the wall, I’m not going to protect him,” Grosjean replied.
Grosjean was then informed of the stakes via team radio: “Rossi isn’t a lap down, you are.”
Rossi finished 19th, Grosjean was 21st and Colton Herta spun mid-race to finish 15th, the best of Andretti’s four-car fleet.
IndyCar champion Alex Palou finished second for Chip Ganassi Racing and Honda and Will Power put in a great drive to put the second Penske driver on the podium. Power was penalized in qualifying, started 21st, spun in the opening laps and drove through the field to finish third.
The race had the potential to improve the IndyCar standings after the top three drivers in the standings – Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson, Power and Penske teammate Josef Newgarden – all had poor qualifying efforts. That put Pato O’Ward, who was fourth in the points, on the pole with a chance to close out the main field in the fight for the title.
Instead, he and Arrow McLaren SP team-mate Felix Rosenqvist were two of the five Chevrolets to retire early, with Ericsson retaining his position in the standings. He leads the Power by 20 points.
Rinus VeeKay finished fourth for Ed Carpenter Racing, followed by Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Ericsson.
Jimmie Johnson finished 16th for his best road or street result. He won 11 positions on the track.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.