Rusty Jarrett/Motorsport Images
Chase Elliott couldn’t shake Tyler Reddick in the final stage of Sunday’s race at Road America, which made the difference for the race win.
Elliott finished second to Reddick as the Richard Childress Racing driver scored his first career win. But it was Elliott who had been untouchable most of the afternoon and led a race-high 36 laps. When the final stage started, Reddick became the only driver who could keep pace with Elliott and hounded him until the final round of green-flag pit stops.
Elliott and Reddick came to pit road for the last time on lap 43. Elliott just barely beat Reddick off pit road, and Reddick immediately began pressuring last year’s race winner.
On lap 46, Elliott lost fourth place to Reddick as the pit cycle was still ongoing. It was the pass that decided the race because Reddick eventually got around Harrison Burton for the lead and then began driving away.
It's the race … within the race! @chaseelliott is able to hold off @TylerReddick! #KwikTrip250 pic.twitter.com/Xj0oMiCPYZ
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) July 3, 2022
“For us, I’m just proud of our NAPA team,” Elliott said. “I didn’t do a very good job there. I just let him stay close enough to pressure me there while we had decent tires and never could get enough of a gap. I made a couple mistakes. I was gaining there a couple times and made a couple mistakes and let him get back close enough to get me out of sync and then after that, I just started struggling.
“Obviously, it was super difficult to get to somebody to pass them. It was impressive he was able to get up there and capitalize on my mistakes. Happy for those guys. I appreciate the effort out of our team. Wish I could have done a better job. I felt like we probably needed a little bit, but I think we were good enough to win, so those always hurt.”
Elliott faded to over three seconds behind Reddick at the finish.
Elliott started from the pole and was never passed for the lead on track. He put in a dominating performance despite telling his team before the race started that he felt there might be an issue with his steering on the right-handers.
No one in the field, until Reddick came along, could hang with Elliott. He routinely drove away from the field when in the lead and, by pitting before the end of both stages, gave other drivers a chance at the top spot.
Elliott and Reddick combined to lead 52 of the race’s 62 laps.
“These cars are very aero sensitive and even more nowadays, even more than last year’s car,” Elliott said. “As the season goes on and everybody’s car has become more of the same as we learn what everybody needs in their vehicles, every car is going to become the same manufacturer to manufacturer and as that becomes the case, track position is going to become more and more of a premium. That’s just motorsports nowadays. Aero is huge, and you can’t unlearn, so that’s the road we’re on.”