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Kickin The Tires

Reddick, Nemechek and Bell continue to impress in the Cup Series

Photo By: Nigel Kinrade Photography / NKP Photo

By Sarah Handy, Staff Writer 

Three of the six NASCAR Cup Series rookie contenders; Tyler Reddick, John Hunter Nemechek and Christopher Bell continue to impress in 2020.

Since the season opener at Daytona and following Bristol, the three of them combine for five top-10 finishes, and 12 Top-15 finishes in nine events.

Here’s a breakdown of how they’ve performed so far in 2020. 

Tyler Reddick:

(Photo By: Nigel Kinrade Photography / NKP Photo)

Tyler Reddick scored his best NCS finish of seventh at Darlington Raceway as the series returned to on track racing due to the COVID-19 pandemic back on May 17.

At the time, Reddick said, “It was a wild day for us though. We never gave up, and all in all, it was a great day. A seventh-place finish is a great way to come back, and we’ll look to build momentum from here.”

Momentum did build as he followed up Darlington with a finish of 13th when the series returned to the track ‘Too Tough to Tame’, a few days later.

The series then headed to NASCAR’s backyard, Charlotte Motor Speedway where he ticked off finishes of eighth and 14th.

Unfortunately, when the series headed to Bristol, Reddick’s streak of four finishes in the Top-15 came to a halt, due to being involved in a wreck on lap 228 of 500.

Reddick will see Atlanta Motor Speedway next Sunday for the first time in a Cup car in his No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. In two previous starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series he has finishes of 19th and fifth, respectively.

John Hunter Nemechek 

(Photo By: Nigel Kinrade Photography / NKP Photo)

John Hunter Nemechek kicked off his first full-time season at NASCAR’s elite level with a solid 11th place finish in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

With the west coast swing next on the schedule, he managed to capture three Top-25 finishes in that three-race span.

Then his first NCS Top-10 happened when the series returned to racing at Darlington in mid-May.

Nemechek started the Real Heroes 400 from the 34th position but was able to work his way all the way up to ninth as the checkered flag flew.

The next four events would find him with three finishes in the Top-16 in his No. 38 Ford Mustang for Front Row Motorsports, including back-to-back 13th place finishes at Charlotte and then Bristol yesterday evening.

“It’s a challenge at Bristol to stay on the lead lap, let alone finish top-15 after the day we had,” stated Nemechek. “I’m so proud of my team for sticking with me and never giving up. We fought hard and still came out of it P13. Thanks to Scag Power Equipment for coming on board with us again. I’m looking forward to getting back after it at Atlanta next weekend.”

As the series heads to Atlanta, Nemechek will also see the track for the first time in a Cup car. In NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, he’s made two starts at the track with finishes of fourth and 20th.  However, he does have one win in two starts at the track in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. That win came back in 2016.

Christopher Bell 

(Photo By: Nigel Kinrade Photography / NKP Photo)

There is no question that Christopher Bell completely dominated the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2018 and 2019. The two seasons saw a combined 11 poles, 15 wins, 38 Top-five and 41 Top-10 finishes.

His transition to the No. 95 Toyota for Leavine Family Racing was one many awaited to see.

His NCS debut at Daytona however didn’t yield a great result right off the bat with a finish of 21st – due to a crash.

The west coast swing produced finishes of 33rd, 38th (engine) and 24th.

Then came NASCAR’s return in mid-May at Darlington, where Bell kicked things off with a 24th place finish. His third Top-25 on the season.

But wait – It gets better.

In his last four starts he hasn’t finished worse than 21st, this includes three finishes inside the Top-11. In addition, Bell earned his first NASCAR Cup Series Top-10 in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which also happens to be NASCAR’s longest race.

Following the 600, Bell said, “I think we are headed in the right direction,” explained Bell. “We have to obviously keep making gains – getting a little bit faster, me doing a better job. We’re gaining on it. We are creeping up on it. I think we snuck a little bit of a better finish out than what we probably deserved, but we will take it after the first couple weeks.”

The series returned to Charlotte a few days later where Bell saw that 21st place finish but yesterday evening in the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Bell captured his second Top-10 finish in his last three starts.

“We struggled a little bit early, but we continued to make progress on the JBL Camry. I felt like for a time there we had a contending car, which was good,” said Bell. “We battled back and have begun to see some results, which is good. It’s nice to be getting some results after the start of the season we had. We are continuing to build and get better, which is the goal.”

“Just keep learning. I’m a rookie and I’m learning more every race. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) is new with this Cup Series package, and as we continue to go back to the tracks we are continuing to grow and learn as a team.”

Bell also heads to Atlanta for the first time in the Cup car, but he has fantastic NASCAR Xfinity Series results on his resume. In his two NXS starts at the track he has one win and another finish of third.

Remainder of the Rookie Class 

 

Quin Houff

(Photo By: Nigel Kinrade Photography / NKP Photo)

Quin Houff who pilots the No. 00 Chevrolet for StarCom Racing did run a part-time schedule last season, but it was when the series returned to competition at Darlington Raceway (Race 2) that Houff captured his best finish in the NCS. He went on to finish in the 26th position. Houff also finished 27th at Bristol for his second Top-30 finish on the season. 

Brennan Poole

(Photo By: Nigel Kinrade Photography / NKP Photo)

Poole who pilots the No. 15 Chevrolet for Premium Motorsports kicked off his first full-time season and NCS debut with a solid 16th place finish at Daytona. Poole has continued to be consistent earning his second Top-25 finish with a 24th place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. In addition, Poole has five Top-30 finishes. 

Cole Custer

(Photo By: Nigel Kinrade Photography / NKP Photo)

The driver of the No. 41 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing has continued to be fairly consistent as well. Custer earned a 9th place finish at Phoenix Raceway earlier in the season and in addition to his one Top-10, he has earned two Top-15 and five Top-20 finishes. However, an unfortunate accident at Bristol left him with a disappointing 35th place result. 

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