RACING

NASCAR Reddick driver gears up for more after first Cup win – Orlando Sentinel

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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — Tyler Reddick finally earns his first Cup Series win and likely a NASCAR playoff berth.

It doesn’t release gas now.

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Richard Childress Racing driver and his team have bigger goals than just qualifying for the playoffs.

“We’re talking about being a championship contender, and I think we can. I really think we’ll be a contender for the championship when we get there,” team owner Richard Childress said Sunday after Reddick’s win at Road America.

It’s a strong statement for a team that only picked up its first Cup victory on Sunday in Reddick’s 92nd career start. But Reddick had come close enough before — five finalists before his Road America win — and was defending NASCAR champion Kyle Larson’s preseason pick as surprise driver of the year.

So it took a buildup to get on the path to victory and now Reddick will look to continue his newfound momentum at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, where NASCAR races this Sunday and Reddick was a contender in the spring until a crash late.

Reddick had admitted just a week before Road America how frustrating it had been to miss out on that decisive first Cup win. He had driven his partner, Alexa, crazy as he struggled to take the next step.

“I would say I was pretty miserable,” Reddick said. “I don’t think Alexa liked being with me when I was second. Yeah second place isn’t a bad place to finish. But we’re here to win races.

His first victory came on the course where he experienced one of the weak moments of his career.

Reddick recalled a disastrous performance at a 2018 Xfinity Series race at Road America that left him wondering if he had what it takes to succeed as a top-level driver.

“This is pretty much where things could have gone two ways,” Reddick said. “It could have gone one way where I was pretty much giving up…I don’t think I had it. But I had a lot of good people around me who believed in me, got me back to where I needed to be, and from then on things got a lot better.

“It’s really crazy that this is the place where I got my first victory, because this place four years ago made me question everything.”

This win showed how far Reddick has come as a road course driver since the start of his career.

“He was like, ‘Man, I hate road racing. I’m not very good at it,” recalls crew chief Randall Burnett. “He’s pretty good at everything he does, so for him to say that was a bit of a challenge.”

Burnett credited Reddick with working tirelessly to make himself more comfortable on road courses.

“I think it’s a nice little icing on the cake, for him to know that he’s worked so hard to be as good as he has at those places,” Burnett said. “So I think it’s pretty special for him to win on a road course for the first time.”

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Reddick has generally had far more good days than bad days while racing in the Xfinity Series, where he won back-to-back Xfinity titles in 2018 and 2019 and secured the seat of the No. 8 Chevrolet driving Childress. He was surprised by the significant jump in the competition when he secured his Cup round.

“We were slapped with the reality of what Cup racing is,” Reddick said. “I must have learned a lot in the last three years in the Cup Series as a driver.

It also meant making sure he didn’t ruminate on his second places too much and instead focused on understanding how the experiences could make him a better driver. Reddick didn’t even blame his heartbreaking finish at Bristol this year when he led until Chase Briscoe tried to pass him in a move that sent both cars out of control. Kyle Busch passed both for the win.

“Yeah, it kinda eats at you, but again I try to look at it, ‘How can I learn from this? How can I learn from Bristol?'” Reddick said. wrecked, but I had a gap and I let him pull me down and get there. I gave him an opportunity.

Reddick’s team made sure the frustrations never boiled over. They all knew a win would come sooner or later.

“It wasn’t a question of if he was going to do it, it was when they were going to win,” Childress said. “That’s what we kept telling them.”

Now they are ready for more.

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