Rookie Tyler Reddick arrived in Daytona knowing his only shot to make the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs was to win the race.
Reddick gave it his best effort Saturday night, but he also triggered the first multi-car crash of the night and was criticized by his fellow competitors for it. Going for the race lead in Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 153, the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing driver swung up to the top lane to get in front of Kyle Busch. But Reddick bounced off the wall, slowed the field down, and started a chain-reaction accident.
“Slide job gone bad,” said Busch, who led 31 laps. “I just hate it for these Interstate Batteries guys — we had a good Camry all night long and made our way to the front multiple times, and we were leading a lot of laps there. Just waiting for the end, for business to pick up, and I guess business was starting to pick up, but (he was) just not clear. I saw him coming and even checked up, and we still ran into each other.”
Others involved were Erik Jones, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, Michael McDowell, and both JTG Daugherty cars in Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ryan Preece. Jones failed to finish the race and lost his chance to fight for the win and a playoff berth.
“I mean, he wasn’t clear,” said Jones. “Kyle let him in, number one, to not cause a wreck, and then he ran into the wall and wrecked everybody behind him. It’s frustrating. He had way too much speed to try to make that move up the hill with the grip that is left in the tires; we had a lot of laps on them. It’s unfortunate. He wrecked us a Pocono, and then to have this happen, two times making racing moves that were not going to work out.
“Unfortunately, it was to the detriment of us today. The Auto-Owners Camry was pretty fast. We were up front. I think we were running third when we got wrecked, so we had a shot. We needed to win — we were there, we just didn’t get it done.”
Newman said Reddick ran out of talent.
“It seems like you can win a couple of Xfinity championships and still stick your head where the sun don’t shine when the time comes right,” said Newman. “I’m just disappointed. It was kind of an average race sitting there waiting with our Guaranteed Rate Ford and never got a chance to show how good a car we had.
“I was happy that everybody stayed calm for a long time, but we proved all it takes it one goofball to make a mistake.”
Reddick was caught in the second big crash of the night on Lap 160, which ended his race. He admitted the other drivers “weren’t wrong” in their assessment of his aggressive driving and a move that was ill-timed.
“That move really hurt my chances to win the race, bringing the caution out, causing that wreck,” said Reddick. “So, they’re right to be upset. If someone made that move on me, I’d be pretty upset too. I was just too late. I was clear for a second, and when I slid up, it messed the 18 (Busch) up and caused a big wreck back there. Yeah, I totally understand them being upset.
“Obviously, there was not a lot of laps left, and when I did make the move that I was hoping I was going to complete without causing a wreck, it would have put us in a good spot to the end, it would have kept the restart from happening and the uncertainty that ended up getting us further back in the pack and causing another wreck that I was in. Yeah, it was a really stupid move.”