Late race contact between two NASCAR Xfinity Playoff drivers turned physical at Kansas Speedway Saturday.
Tyler Reddick and Cole Custer were fighting for the win after a late race restart with just five laps to go and both drivers inside the top five. Shortly after the green flag the two cars made contact sending Custer into the wall. Custer was able to hang on to his Ford but had to settle for an 11th place finish while Reddick finished second.
After the race was over, an obviously frustrated Custer, who led a race high 85 laps, walked to Reddick and put a hand on his shoulder. The two were soon on the ground joined by several crewmembers and others who appeared to try and intervene. Custer was soon pulled from the melee, Reddick a short time later.
“Cole’s mad, I’m disappointed in myself and upset for him,” Reddick said. “I understand, if I was in his spot how I’d feel, so I understand that. There was more hands than words before we began to talk. Then from there a lot of people were jumping in; at that point, (you’re) just trying to defend yourself. It is what it is. It’s part of it.”
“We went through one and two there and Reddick couldn’t hold his car on the bottom and washed us up into the fence,” Custer said. “I just wasn’t very happy with it and was just going to tell him that and he went berserk on me. I guess that is part of it. I just wasn’t very happy with it. He just said, ‘Don’t touch me,’ then he started grabbing on me.”
Custer blamed Reddick for starting the scuffle.
“I thought I could just go up and talk to him, but he went berserk when I put a hand on him,” Custer said. “I wasn’t trying to rough him up. I just put a hand on him.”
Reddick said he was just trying to defend himself.
“If he’s going to put a hand on me, I’m going to gladly put two on him as well,” Reddick said. “I have no problem talking, but before words were really exchanged there was hands on people. I’m not just going to sit there and let him grab ahold of me without grabbing ahold right back, that’s just the way it is.”
Reddick was also frustrated that some of Custer’s crewmembers joined in the tussle.
“Some guys want to take cheap shots and hop in on somebody that’s not really giving someone else any attention,” he said. “It’s just between me and him, that’s the way it should have been but obviously it didn’t go that way.”
He accused one of putting him in a headlock and pulling him to the ground.
“I know who it did,” Reddick said. “I know whose face it is, don’t know his name, don’t care to, but I’ll remember that.”
The two drivers now have to race each other again. Both are favorites in the Playoffs which will end at Homestead in November. Saturday, Reddick wasn’t sure if the two drivers might meet and clear the air.
“I really don’t know if talking is going to stop us from doing something at the next couple of races or not,” he said. “I don’t know if he wants to talk to me, I’d like to talk to him; just to get an understanding of at least where we’re at. If he’s upset and doesn’t want to give me any room going forward, then I have no problem with that I understand it.”
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