Tyler Reddick made one wrong move Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The Richard Childress Racing rookie was on his way to a career-best finish when he nearly threw it away one lap before the finish. Reddick took the white flag in the Dixie Vodka 400 but thought it was the checkered, and his No. 8 team had to quickly get the driver hustling again before he starting giving away positions.
Fortunately, all was well as Reddick crossed under the official checkered flag in the fourth position. In 14 career starts in the NASCAR Cup Series, the result is not only Reddick’s best but his first-ever top-five finish.
“I’m really proud of my Chevy Cares Chevrolet team and the effort we showed today,” said Reddick (pictured at left, above). “We had really good speed and were able to run up front pretty much all night long. The men and women of RCR and ECR did a great job preparing us with a fast race car to bring down to my favorite track on the circuit. We were able to use that speed to our advantage and race into the top 10 within the first 30 laps, and we were able to maintain that track position.
“We fine-tuned our car from then on out for the rest of the race and tried to make it better to runt the fence. It was tough, though, because sometimes the top seam worked better instead of the fence, so figuring out which lane was best to use at what time was tricky.”
Through the random draw, Reddick started 24th but was inside the top 10 before a caution flew on Lap 21. So familiar with finding speed at the track given his success in the Xfinity Series the last two seasons, including two wins that clinched the championship, Reddick was maintaining in the first set of corners and making time through Turns 3 and 4, which spotter Derek Kneeland called their “money end.”
Reddick finished third in Stage 1 and second in Stage 2. His average running position throughout the 267-lap race was 3.92, and he mixed it up for the top spots with drivers like Chase Elliott and eventual winner Denny Hamlin.
Off the final round of green-flag pit stops, Reddick again started to make up ground on the leaders. In the last 20 laps, the top four cars were within two seconds of each other, and Reddick was again using his favorite lane against the fence to track down Ryan Blaney for the third position. He grabbed the spot with nine laps to go only to have Blaney take it back a lap later.
In the post-race loop data, Reddick was tops in the fastest laps run at Homestead. His 48 fastest laps run were better than Hamlin’s 31. Reddick was the second-fastest driver on restarts.
“We got a little too tight by the end of the night to really make the fence work like I wanted, but all in all, it was a solid effort,” said Reddick. “I’ve won the past two times I’ve come here, granted in the Xfinity Series, but it was so fun to be ripping the fence with three of the best tonight in the NASCAR Cup Series. It was a hard-fought battle and one we can build momentum off of.”