KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Fourth time’s a charm.
Tyler Reddick can finally say he wins at Kansas Speedway.
“I got lucky, and I was able to get to the top of (Turn) 3 to get to the inside of Kyle Busch,” Reddick explained after the race. “I was just able to find clean air and was able to carry the momentum onward. It just seemed all day long, when you got beside someone down the frontstretch, this TRD engine would just pull down the straightaways and we would go right by them.”
Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. Fortunately for Reddick, his No. 45 23XI Racing team have been both. A second-place last week at Darlington Raceway followed up today by his fifth career NASCAR Cup Series victory has set an early tone in the hunt for the championship.
All of the surrounding chaos has put Reddick to the test. He was all smiles knowing he had prevailed.
“It was perfect honestly,” he continued. “We had a really, really good MoneyLion Toyota Camry TRD all day long. Everyone at 23XI – when we come here, we mean business. We didn’t have the outright pace that I think Bubba (Wallace) and Denny (Hamlin) had. At times, we were pretty solid, but we were just caught behind them. The caution came, it gave us another opportunity, especially with those cars that stayed out or took two tires.”
Kansas has raced well for Reddick but has treated him poorly since NASCAR’s NextGen car. He was a favorite in each of the last three races but failed to score the victory. There was added pressure that 23XI had been undefeated at the track, whether their drivers or owner won. Reddick was the only one left in the stable to be winless at the 1.5-mile oval.
Sunday finally changed that.
“We joked last week or so that Tyler was the only driver that sits in our competition debriefs without a win here, so it’s only appropriate we got it for him finally,” laughed crew chief Billy Scott. “We just had a good package. In all honesty the Toyotas on mile-and-a-halfs have been strong for a long time, and here Kurt started that off with driving us in the direction we needed setup-wise and such. It’s just carried over. They’ve got each other to feed off of. They all sit there and talk about what makes it work and got good notes and just in the end they’re executing, they’re comfortable here, and thankfully it’s still working.”
The short track of Bristol Motor Speedway can create more of that chaos. This time around, however, the win locks Reddick into the next round of the Playoffs, no matter what happens in his race.
“Last year was the heartbreaker,” reflected Reddick. “Two years ago we just weren’t great, and we went into Bristol and missed it by a couple (points). But last year we had those wins. We come to (Kansas) a year ago and have a flat while leading and fall out very early. So we went into Bristol (last year) in a bad spot and then got caught up in a wreck.
“To be able to have a lot of points scored – I’m sure even if we didn’t win today and finished second or third, we would have had a lot of points to lean on going into Bristol, so that was just the goal all along. I want to win races, but we don’t want to take the risks in the first round. I think as we keep going along and we get further in and we don’t have the points to start that some of the cars at the very front of the leaderboard do, we’ll have to get more aggressive, but it was very nice to get five playoff points today and gain a few more as we go on to the next round.”
There’s a noticeable breath of fresh air for the 27-year-old, and he’s ready to press on a charge into this 2023 Playoff hunt.
“We’ve put ourselves in contention these last two weeks to get some good finishes.”