Common sense prevailed for Tyler Reddick in the final three laps Sunday at Phoenix Raceway.
Reddick could taste his first career win as he battled Chase Briscoe and Ross Chastain but knew it wouldn’t come with a banzai move. No one would have blamed Reddick for going for it, having lined up on the outside of the front row for the final restart.
“It’s very tempting, right?” said Reddick. “It’s like when someone cuts you off on the freeway, and you’re mad and want to honk at them. It’s very tempting to hit the horn. (I was) just trying to manage that. It’s a difficult thing.
“I guess for Chase both times with Ross and then me, it’s like, who’s going to lift first going off into Turn 1? It was a lot of fun. I wish I could have been able to drive it in deeper, but that was all I had. I couldn’t go any further; I would have fenced it.”
Briscoe cleared Reddick, who felt he got as good a launch as he could, in Turns 1 and 2. Kept from the race lead, the Richard Childress Racing driver went about keeping his car underneath him, his head on his shoulders, and wound up in a battle with Chastain.
Reddick finished third; his first top-five finish of the season. Briscoe won the race; his first in the series in his second year. A win by either Reddick or Chastain would also have been a first.
“I know some ridiculous, crazy move is not going to win the race for me – it’s going to lose it for me,” said Reddick. “You don’t have to break the mold to make a race-winning move. You have to still run a really fast lap time to put yourself in position.
“I wasn’t going to take something really ridiculous; It’s not like a Homestead or a road course where you can give it off in there and got plenty of room to park it.”
Sunday was Reddick’s best result in five Phoenix starts. His previous highest finish was 19th place twice.
Reddick earned points in both stages and averaged a running position of sixth. He was no lower than 13th throughout the afternoon.
“It was pretty dang intense,” he said of the final laps. “Thankfully, it was pretty easy to get a clear mind and know what I needed to do to have a shot. I feel like I did a pretty good job of that. I’ll be able to back and dissect it with SMT (data) and look at that, but I didn’t completely screw it up. So, I’ll take it.”
But the best news from Phoenix? Reddick said he didn’t experience any leg numbness, which had plagued him the previous two weekends.