Reddick looking to rebound from Darlington drama

This is what 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick’s featured Facebook post read on Sunday, May 13, 2024, just a handful of hours after he and rival Chris Buescher clashed heavily in the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway:

Wanted it so bad.

With 10 laps to go in Sunday afternoon’s race at The Track Too Tough to Tame, Chris Buescher and his No.17 RFK Racing Ford Mustang held station over Reddick and the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota Camry by 0.274s. Reddick motored beneath Buscher on the 23-degree banking of Turn 3. Attempting to execute a slide job maneuver on the No. 17, the Camry and Mustang collided, both cars suffering flats, their potentially winning races done


“Yeah, I really did want it bad,” said Reddick. “Darlington has been a track where I’ve ran second and third a lot and have been unable to seize the moment and go to victory lane, so yes, I was heavily motivated to get the lead back. Leading the race the way that I did all day… certainly I think it is important to mention that I felt like it was my last opportunity to attempt a pass and unfortunately it went really, really wrong really quickly for us, and the other team, as well.”

An hour before the interview with Reddick took place, retired former Cup champion and 23XI Racing advisor Kurt Busch told this writer that Reddick simply “wants more” as a Cup driver and a competitor. Wanting more is one thing, but in an era where Cup racing is extraordinarily competitive, the drivers are demanded to take matters into their own hands and, at times, forced to make things happen with the competitors they are brawling with for track position.

“Yes, that is very true,” agreed Reddick. “A lot of the cars are very close on speed and capability now. We were really, really strong at Darlington. We spent most of the day out front. When we were out front, we were really, really strong and I just knew that the more time I spent in traffic, the worst my car would get. So yes, I was just heavily motivated to get to the guys in front of me and I knew that if I got to within a car length or two that I was going to be forced to make an aggressive move. I think there is always the opportunity to go back and look at it all and learn from it and think of the alternatives, but at that time I thought it was my best shot at trying to go for the lead there.

“The crazy thing is that I think almost every NASCAR driver at this point has been the driver running into someone else’s door, or getting ran into the door by somebody else. The thing that just kind of blows my mind about the whole situation was that the contact was pretty significant, but the fact that it detonated my right rear tire and his left rear tire is the part of it all that’s the head-scratcher. Unlike the old car, these cars are really, really stout and there aren’t a lot of sharp corners anymore, so it’s a lot harder to get a flat tire. The part that is the biggest bummer in it all is that where we happened to come together, he cut my tire and I cut his, as well.”

For Reddick, Darlington was a day of what might have been. John Harrelson/Motorsport Images

On a happier note, Darlington brought Reddick’s first pole position of the season. Reddick addressed the excellent performance he believes the No. 45 Toyota race team puts forth in racing and race car preparation.

“The team always works really, really hard, but it is really, really rewarding being able to have the whole group work together like they do,” he said. “When we really, really hit it, we have cars that are as fast as what we saw on Sunday. I’m just really proud of the effort that they put forward. The road crew, the guys at the shop are awesome. The pit crew too, man. On average, they were the fastest crew in the race at Darlington all day long. That, paired with our number one pit stall from pole position, really allowed us to keep control of the race when we had the lead and also allowed us to regain control of the race in those circumstances where we would lose the lead in traffic or during a green flag cycle. Yeah, just the whole team really performed at a very high level on Sunday.”

Currently sixth in Cup Series points, Reddick has a win at Talladega Superspeedway and six additional top 10 finishes thus far in 2024.

“It’s a sport where I feel like the most competitive individuals gravitate towards and it’s also one of the hardest sports to win at week-in and week-out,” he said. “A lot of sports that I watch on television or that I attend, there is one team facing another, and in NASCAR there are 36 individual race teams out there and a number of organizations and it is really difficult week-in and week-out to be the one to win each week. I feel like we’ve been solid enough and we’ve been contending for a lot of these victories and we’ve got to close these races out when we’re that strong. That’s what we’ve been thinking about as we get ready for the All-Star race and as we get ready for the 600.

“Unfortunately with our bad finish to end the day at Darlington, we lost fifth place in points. However, thankfully we scored a lot of stage points. We scored more stage points than anybody else on Sunday, so kind of minimized the damage from our 32nd place finish. But yes, I think the big one that stands out for me is the 600. A year ago with this team, we were one of the best cars on the racetrack. We were at the front of the field and we ran over a pretty large piece of debris that tore up our car and from that point on, we were just a fifth place car. That one stung, you know? Wrong place at the wrong time. We just ran over something on the racetrack and that was such a bummer to not capitalize on that day.

“The 600 has been a good race for me. I think back to even my first race in the 600 in 2020. We’ve been able to grind out long races and get top 10 finishes and run well. Especially in the Next Gen era, man, in that 600-mile race, we’ve been really strong. We’re very excited to get back there knowing how solid we were a year ago in the 600. Charlotte Motor Speedway is becoming more and more unique with each passing season. It’s got the characteristics of all the mile-and-a-half tracks as far as speed, but just the way that asphalt has been wearing out makes it really tricky. Turns 3 and 4 there have gotten so rough. It’s got a lot of character and it’s very challenging to navigate on these tires. For me, I feel like we’ve done a really good jo of making our cars stout on both ends of the racetrack there, so I’m ready to get back there and see how much better our car is going to be this time around with our brand-new Toyota Camry that we have this year.

“Obviously we need to continue working on things, but like I said, my pit crew performed at the highest level on Sunday. If they continue to do that and we continue to bring fast race cars, we’re going to continue finding ourselves contending for these race wins. The more that we put ourselves in those positions, the more we learn from things. That is what’s going to make us better. Very soon that will start leading us to the wins we that I think we are strong enough to achieve.”

Story originally appeared on Racer