RACING

OPINION: A bittersweet victory for Richard Childress

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In the hot Indianapolis sun on the last day of July, Tyler Reddick took Richard Childress Racing to victory, and yet there was a chill in the air.

Reddick is expected to leave the company in 18 months for 23XI Racing and Richard Childress is not happy. Reddick has made a long-term decision regarding his future after Childress only chose the 2023 option on his contract. And so, even after winning for the second time in five races, there was no sideways unease and the post-race scene reeked of awkwardness.

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“We had to talk before the announcement was made, but we didn’t really talk until [Sunday] since the announcement was made,” Reddick said. “Fortunately, winning softens some things, I think.”

Time will tell us.

Childress has made no secret of his feelings in recent weeks, including telling Fox Sports that he thinks Reddick did things unprofessionally. Sunday night in Indianapolis, he again spoke about the difference with Reddick compared to when Kevin Harvick also left his company. Harvick signed with Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2014 season but still had a year left with Childress.

“Kevin and I discussed his whole deal, and we made a joint announcement,” Childress said in his post-race interview with NBC Sports in Indianapolis. “He won four races that year and we almost won the championship. This one didn’t happen that way.

It’s a bit of historical revisionism on the part of Childress when you look at the stories from that time. Word had leaked about Harvick’s future plans, leading Childress to be asked about the report. His answer: “I have a contract for 2013 and it’s 2012. I’m not talking to you about anything (about this).”

When asked if Harvick informed him of his departure after the 2013 season, Childress replied, “You have to go talk to them. Do not talk to me about it. »

Childress looks just as irritated now. Following Reddick’s announcement, he was retired from competing in further Xfinity Series races for Big Machine Racing in the #48 car. Childress and Big Machine have a partnership and the team has moved to be close to the RCR campus.

The RCR No.8 has embraced the bricks as one, but Reddick’s planned move to the 23XI in 2024 still stings team owner Richard Childress. Motorsport footage

Indianapolis should have been a joyful time for a company trying to re-establish itself as a competitor. Reddick gave Childress multiple wins in a season for the first time since 2017. And there were celebrations on the bricks, but there was no denying the underlying tension.

Many of the questions Reddick faced centered on his relationship with Childress and the company.

“I told him that as long as I’m racing here, I’ll do everything I can to win races for this team, and I’d love to win a championship or two with this team,” Reddick said. “I’m going to be more committed – I feel like the older you get, the smarter you get, the more you find ways to work really hard, and I’m just going to work as hard as I can for this team because there’s a lot of great people in that team. A lot of great people at RCR and a lot of great people, not just on my car but in the RCR shop who work really, really hard on these cars, and they helped me go as far as a driver. I’m just going to give them everything I’ve got.

Reddick spoke to the team ahead of his announcement but still admitted it was difficult. But he insists that on his side, nothing will change in relation to his approach.

“My level of engagement, if any, is probably a bit higher, but we’re not talking like it’s much higher,” he said. “I just know we’ve had time to keep working on our cars and improving them and growing as a team and going in the right direction and now it’s like, okay, we’ve got a crash This is the end of the road we have together.

“It puts a lot of pressure on me to keep finding more, because we always try to bring our best to the circuit. But when you know the end is – it’s not really close, but we knows when it’s going to be – we have to take advantage of every possible moment and I feel like at least for me it’s a good thing. I think it really pushes me hard, and I think it pushes the team to push hard, we all work very hard together to give our all and win as many races as possible.

Reddick also attempted to play down the perceived awkwardness with Childress in the win lane.

“We have to shoot the name they give and kiss bricks, drink champagne, drink beers,” he said. “[I told him] I’m happy to add to her collection of Brickyard Rings and Victories. He’s had a few before me, and I’m happy to help add to that. I want to add everything I can with him before my time is up.

Reddick didn’t feel the same thrill, or at least not that he would admit, calling it a normal victory lane and interaction with Childress.

“Yeah, winning helps.”

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