Tyler Reddick’s up and down NASCAR Cup Series season has been on a downward trend the last two weekends with rough outings at Talladega Superspeedway and Dover Motor Speedway.
Reddick admitted Tuesday afternoon that his No. 8 Richard Childress Racing team is working hard to figure out why it’s been a feast or famine season. No one is satisfied chalking it up to just being off at whatever track the series visited that weekend, and everyone on the team has each others back when it comes to keeping motivated and pushing forward.
An engine issue 31 laps into the race at Talladega resulted in an early exit. At Dover, Reddick struggled with his Chevrolet and also hit the wall a few times.
“It’s not easy,” Reddick said about everyone keeping their minds right. “When you have a weekend like Talladega where you don’t really get a chance to go up and fight and contend or get in the mix, and then have another weekend (at Dover) where it almost felt the same way…. We were able to fight most of the race, and it looked like we were getting ready to be in a spot where we were going to get a 15th or so finish out of it before I spun out off Turn 2.
“So it is difficult, but the nice thing is we have a lot of tracks on the schedule that we like, and so when you have a rough go of it as we did at Dover, it’s always good to be going to a place like Darlington right after because we all really enjoy going there as a team. We’re always able to seemingly get it right at some point in the weekend. … So every time we got there, we feel like we have an opportunity to run good — we’re learning a lot about the track and the car, and I’m learning a lot of what I need to keep in my car to run up front with the veterans who know the track really well. Hopefully, we can figure out exactly what it is we’ve been missing a little bit here in these longer races so we can stay up front and stay in the mix.”
As soon as he walked out of Dover, Reddick hit the reset button, ready for what was next. What helps is that Reddick is keeping busy this week by preparing for Darlington twice, as he’ll be in the Xfinity Series race the day before for Big Machine Racing.
“Yeah, coming off a tough weekend, it’s probably even better I’ll be on track even more than normal,” said Reddick.
Reddick has four top-10 finishes through 11 races, with his two best chances to win races taken away through circumstances not of his own doing. Leading at Fontana, where he was out front for 90 laps, Reddick had a tire go down and, as he was falling off the pace, William Byron got loose underneath him at the exit of Turn 2 and crashed them both.
Three weeks ago at Bristol, Reddick led 99 laps, but in Turn 3 on the final lap, Chase Briscoe failed to pull off a slider attempt and sent them both spinning. Reddick still managed to finish second.
However, three DNFs and an average finish of 18.5 have Reddick falling back in points. Reddick is 16th in the standings going into Darlington, and as far as the playoffs go, he and his team are counting points while also still hunting for that elusive first win.
“We try and be aware of everything,” Reddick said. “We don’t want to turn a blind eye to something and pretend it’s going to be OK. It’s important to know what’s going on. We don’t really have to look at the point standings to know that the last month hasn’t really been good for us in points, so that does add to the frustration of what’s going on.
“We’ve been fortunate that we’ve had some repeat winners now; that’s been good for us. But there are a lot of drivers left, ahead of us, behind us that have all shown speed and the capabilities to go out there and win. So, we need to get back to being one of those drivers and teams who were doing that like at the beginning of the year. A win will be important and if we want to go very far in the playoffs, I think we need to win before the playoffs, and we need to keep that a goal.”