Tyler Reddick had risk versus reward on his mind as he battled teammate Austin Dillon for the win at Texas Motor Speedway.
“As much as it’s my responsibility to win for this Cat Oil and Gas Chevrolet, I don’t want to take a win opportunity away from either RCR car,” said Reddick. “I was just trying to race as hard as I can without getting the 3 in a position where he lifts, slides up, makes me lift, the cars behind us have an opportunity there to win that race. I just tried to do it as best as I could.”
Reddick and Dillon lined up on the front row for three restarts inside the final 25 laps. The rookie Reddick led the way when the race went green with 23 laps to go, having inherited the top spot by taking fuel only on his final pit stop. But Dillon quickly snatched the lead away, and Dillon held control through the remainder of the race.
Dillon won for the third time in his NASCAR Cup Series career while Reddick picked up his career-best finish in the series. It was the first time since Talladega 2011 that Richard Childress Racing ended a race 1-2.
“I’m not going to lie, he did a really good job in the restart zone of keeping me from getting into a rhythm, being able to work with the 18 [Kyle Busch] behind us, who is one of the best,” said Reddick. “(Busch) had me all jacked up (and) couldn’t give me the pushes that he was wanting to give me for himself to battle with the 3. Just got to continue to work on that.
“A lot of these restarts throughout the year, we’ve been in mid-pack, we haven’t had the opportunity to play with that on the front row. Just came down to that launch. That’s something that I didn’t do a great job of during the last couple of restarts.”
The race restarted for the final time with two laps to go. Dillon chose the inside lane and put Reddick to his outside. Once Dillon launched at the restart, he was clear of the field and Reddick fell in line behind to the finish.
Texas was the seventh top-10 finish for Reddick this season and his second top-five effort. Reddick is 17th in the overall standings and in contention for a playoff spot, which Reddick wants to chase by being aggressive with the team’s strategy calls such as Sunday at Texas. But Reddick also knows he can’t take a good car and crash out of a race when he needs to make up points.
Dillon has clinched a spot in the playoffs with his win, and Reddick has eight races to do the same or erase the 14 points he sits behind the final spot on the playoff grid. Either way, Reddick hopes an RCR sweep of Texas pushes the organization in the right direction.
“We’ve been looking for validation for a long time, what’s the right way to go, which direction we need to take our cars and team,” he said. “It’s been really hard to search and find that with how much the track position plays into the handling of your vehicle. Today we saw the capability of both of these cars.
“Once you got our Chevrolets in that better track position, clean air, it showed itself. It’s going to be a big confidence booster for myself, Austin. It’s going to push the guys back at the shop, the men and women back at the shop, to work hard to give us fast race cars, from the upper management all the way down. A nice little uplift to take us into the next race Thursday at Kansas, a good track for me.”