DOVER — Tyler Reddick came out on top in the battle of youth that broke out in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Friday night.
Reddick took the lead with seven laps to go and held off a hard-charging Daniel Suarez for the victory in the Lucas Oil 200 at Dover International Speedway.
It is the second victory this year for the 19-year-old who also won the season-opening race at Daytona.
“The only thing we wanted more than one win was two wins,” Reddick said.
NASCAR Cup Series regular Kyle Busch had won the last two and three of the last four truck races at Dover, but sat this one out making it a wide-open race.
Busch’s team was still in competition for the win though as Erik Jones, who turns 19 today, led 50 laps and was out front after the final pit stop after taking two tires.
Jones got hung up in lap traffic which allowed Reddick to reel him in and pulled to his bumper with 10 laps left. Reddick needed two more laps to complete the pass and Jones fell back to finish in third.
“Just didn’t have enough tire left for the end,” Jones said. “It’s just a shame we couldn’t bring it home. … They thing just got so loose, I just couldn’t hang on to it.”
With Busch not racing, the spotlight turned to the next generation of NASCAR talent.
Cole Custer, a 17-year-old, led the most laps with 67 but dropped out of contention for the win due to a costly mistake on the final pit stop when his crew didn’t pack enough fuel in to back it to the end of the race. Custer finished 13th.
Of the 200 laps, 191 were led by drivers 21-years-old or younger.
Suarez didn’t lead a lap but mounted the closest challenge to Reddick. He drove within three tenths of a second to Reddick in the final laps thanks to lapped traffic but Reddick was able to find clear air to sail to victory.
“To be honest I feel like we had a faster truck but traffic was everything,” Suarez (23) said. “I feel like we’re getting closer and closer. We’re learning a lot and hopefully we can get a win soon.”
Ryan Blaney, a 21-year-old, started on the pole and led 33 laps but had to settle for seventh. Blaney is teammates with Reddick.
Reddick’s day didn’t start off too well when he was involved in an incident with Jennifer Jo Cobb on lap 15.
Reddick was trying to maneuver around the slower truck of Cobb when they made contact and she spun around on the frontstretch, hitting the inside wall. Cobb exited her truck and walked up the track to motion at Reddick while he was driving by.
Cobb was eventually restrained by NASCAR officials and led into the ambulance to the infield care center. Cobb was called to the NASCAR hauler after the race.
FAISON BACK ON TRACK: C.J. Faison, a Seaford native, will make his debut in the NASCAR XFINITY Series today in the Buckle Up 200 presented by Click It or Ticket.
Faison will be driving the No. 26 Toyota Camry. He was 29th fastest in the final practice session on Friday.
Faison has raced at Dover in the K&N East Series and the Camping World Truck Series. The last time he competed at the Monster Mile was in 2013 when he led the most laps in the K&N race but blew a tire and ended up finishing 24th.
XFINITY ROUNDUP: The XFINITY Series had a pair of practice sessions on Friday and a Dillon ended up leading both of them.
Ty Dillon paced the first practice while older brother Austin Dillon topped the second. Qualifying is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. with the race beginning at 2:30 p.m.
Ellis brings extra incentive for Dover truck race
Camping World Truck series driver Ryan Ellis welcomed a contingent of family and friends in the stands for Friday’s race. He considers Dover, along with Richmond, to be his home track since it’s only an hour or so from the family home in Fairfax, Virginia.
“It would be one of the coolest paces to win or have a top 5,” he said Thursday before a C-17 orientation flight at Dover Air Force Base.
It’s not often a driver has the chance to win before family and relatives, he added.
Ellis has made five starts at Dover, racing either trucks or in the Nationwide series, now called XFINITY. He drives the No. 1 Silverado for MAKE Motorsports.
DiBenedetto has strategy in place for Sunday
Matt DiBenedetto, driver of the 83 Toyota Camry for BK Racing, arrives in Dover running for the Sprint Cup rookie of the year title. Some “good runs” of late have him more optimistic on gaining ground on teammate Jeb Burton, current points leader.
“As a team we’re a little more organized,” he said Thursday before a C-17 orientation flight at Dover Air Force Base.
DiBenedetto knows how to get around Dover quickly. He holds the track record in the K&N series, set in 2009 when he logged a 155.166 mph lap.
“The 400 laps at Dover, honestly, are tough,” he said. “It’s one of the hardest tracks on the circuit, one of the physically most demanding.
“You’re tense all the time,” he said.
His strategy for Sunday is to “rehydrate and stay out of trouble.”