NASCAR to toast Reddick, Crafton at Xfinity, Gander Trucks Awards

Holly Cain

NASCAR will formally honor its newest NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series champions Friday at the year-end banquet at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Richard Childress Racing driver Tyler Reddick, 23, earned his second consecutive Xfinity Series title Saturday evening in the Homestead-Miami Speedway season finale after a thrilling battle for the lead between him and Stewart-Haas Racing driver Cole Custer. With the victory, Reddick becomes the first driver to win consecutive Xfinity Series championships since Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2011-12, and the Californian is the first to do so with different teams (last year he drove for JR Motorsports).

ThorSport Racing driver Matt Crafton, 43, won his third career Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Austin Hill, who had been eliminated from title contention, won the race, and Crafton finished second — best among the four drivers vying for the title. It follows historic back-to-back title runs in 2013-14, making the Californian one of only three drivers in series history to earn three championships.

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Reddick will take a pre-celebration trip to Florida‘s Universal Studios on Wednesday, joking he may have to find someone to ride the roller coasters with him because his longtime girlfriend, Alexa De Leon, is about to deliver the couple‘s first child. Reddick announced the baby boy‘s name will be “Beau.” The couple decided if he won the title, he would get to pick the name.

Reddick and two of his championship challengers — Custer and Christopher Bell — will be moving up to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2020.

Crafton heads into the banquet on the cusp on some significant historical possibility. Crafton‘s efforts tie him with Jack Sprague (1997, 1999 and 2001) for second place on the list of championships. Only NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday has won more titles (1996, 1998, 2007 and 2009).

The Sunoco Rookie of the Year Awards will also be formally celebrated. Stewart-Haas Racing driver Chase Briscoe, 24, took home the rookie honors in the Xfinity Series, earning his second career win at Iowa Speedway this season. The Indiana native finished with 26 top-10 finishes in the 33 races and fifth in the championship — best among those who didn‘t qualify for the Championship 4.

Tyler Ankrum won top rookie honors in the Gander Trucks. Even after missing the first three races of the season because he had not turned 18 yet, Ankrum rallied to earn a playoff position. The California native won his first career series race in the DGR-Crosley Toyota at Kentucky Speedway in the summer to earn a championship opportunity. He ultimately finished eighth in the standings.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards Banquet will make its Nashville debut Dec. 5, when Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch will be feted for his second Cup Series championship.

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