INTERVIEW: Tyler Reddick on Clash 2.0 and beyond

INTERVIEW: Tyler Reddick on Clash 2.0 and beyond


INTERVIEW: Tyler Reddick on Clash 2.0 and beyond


Tyler Reddick led 51 of the first 54 laps of the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Coliseum for Richard Childress Racing before a drivetrain issue sent him to the sidelines. While that DNF was bitterly disappointing, the Coliseum performance seemingly lit a match beneath Reddick as he would soon collect his first career Cup victory at Road America. Triumphs at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course as well as Texas Motor Speedway would follow. For 2023, Reddick has moved to 23XI Racing, where it all gets started for him tonight at the Coliseum.

Q: Tyler, does the quarter-mile track here inside this place remind you of mini sprints and dirt late model racing stuff you did as a young guy?

Tyler Reddick: Yeah, it’s somewhere along those lines. When I was in my teens and running some sprint car stuff and dirt late models, a lot of the tracks we raced on were quarter-miles, or about that size. Being a former dirt racer and coming here and doing this, there’s not a lot of parallels, but you certainly have to hustle the car here. You have to ask the car to change direction pretty quickly. You’re not really babying the car at all like you would with a more traditional stock car. Yeah, there are some things about it that are pretty cool, but I haven’t really ever done anything that compares to this race here, to be honest with you.

Q: This place was kind to you last year, at first. You led 51 of the first 53 laps before exiting the race with mechanical issues. That has to inspire some confidence?

TR: It’s unknown. When I say unknown, it’s the switching of teams as I went over to 23XI Racing and Toyota. The strengths and weaknesses are different for everybody, but certainly from what I have seen as far as the trajectory of the team and the path that they’re on and with the rate that they are improving, that it was the right move to make to come here for sure. The team definitely wasn’t happy with their performance here last year, but everyone here has learned a lot about this car in one year’s time. A lot has changed. We are prepared for this race. We were pretty excited about how the car has felt. Again, though, this is a weird one. The teams and manufacturers don’t really get a chance to scan the racetrack and go to the in-depth levels that they do at the other tracks to help out the simulator programs. Again, this track does have some unknowns, but I think we’re pretty close. The nice thing is that the waiting is over and we’re going to find out here in a little while where we stand in the field.

Reddick’s MoneyLion Toyota explores the unique Coliseum circuit during practice. Nigel Kinrade/Motorsport Images

Q: The move from Richard Childress Racing to 23XI Racing for this 2023 NASCAR Cup season was a profound one for you. Substantial change and all, how do you feel within the 23XI Racing team? Do you feel like you’re already in step with everyone inside your particular race team?

TR: Yeah, honestly I do, but we haven’t really had the on-track opportunities. We tested a few weeks ago out at Circuit of The Americas for Goodyear and the handling of the car and things of that nature, unloading there was really, really impressive. We obviously have some things to work on just as any other team does, but yeah, I feel confident with where they are at, and where they are going, and with the rate of improvement and progress that the team has carried out since they’ve started.

Q: Denny Hamlin has spoken about your winning attitude. Looks like you and the 23XI Racing effort can really be a force in 2023…

TR: Yeah, that’s our hope, for sure. But there is a process, right? The Cup series is very tough to compete in and there are certainly going to be some things that we’re going to go through as we learn and grow together as one team. The vision here is that there is one team. We just have two cars. We’re all able to work really well together. Bubba (Wallace) has been here and Kurt (Busch) is staying in the loop and helping me in this transition, as well. Yeah, we are all really excited to see what this year brings. Over the winter everyone feels like we’ve made some progress with the cars and it has been a bit of a waiting game to see how it all translates into the real thing on the racetrack.

Q: How are you working with crew chief Billy Scott?

TR: The first test went really well, I thought. What’s also cool about how all that went down is that me and Billy do have some history with one another. He was at RCR in an R&D role and when we did testing and whatnot back then, he would go along. There was already a relationship there between us. We didn’t have to start from scratch, if you will. Me and Billy are in a good place, but when we get put it tough situations for the first time, we’re going to have to navigate all that. But with how everything has been so far, I feel pretty confident with where we are at.

Q: Following the Clash, you guys immediately head out to do races at Daytona, Fontana, Las Vegas and Phoenix. How do you like these tracks that make up the opening swing of the Cup Series?

TR: Fontana, for sure, is the one that I’m really excited about. This will be the last time that we race on the 2.0-mile oval there. The history and the character that racing surface has makes it a real challenge just to get around there by yourself. And then when you slam 35 really tough Cup teams out there, it makes for a really wild race. I’m very excited about getting to Fontana. Las Vegas is another one that I’m excited about. Phoenix, for me, is really important. It is definitely not one of my favorite tracks, but that’s where the championship will be decided at the end of the year. Going in there and really trying to get a feel for what we need to come back there with is going to be extremely important, as well.

Q: What’s your impression of racing a Toyota so far?

I mean it’s really impressive, the level Toyota operates on. The TRD family treats the drivers really, really well. They talk about how it is one big family and it really is. I’m getting to know everyone over there. My boss, Denny Hamlin, drives for them. With the lineup they have, we all get along really well and I’m looking forward to how that alliance and partnership goes throughout the year as we continue to learn about our cars and the direction that we want to take over the course of the year.

Q: You’ve got an entirely new and different manufacturer, car and race team before you. A complete fresh start?

TR: I’m extremely excited. Yeah, getting to work with partners like Monster Energy, MoneyLion, McDonald’s and the Jordan brand is just excellent as they are all really high-profile brands. I’m getting to know them and having Kurt Busch around to kind of break the ice has been a nice thing for me to have as well. It is really exciting to get to work with new partners that are really involved and really care about their relationships with their drivers. Through the year these relationships will grow and it’s an exciting time for me right now, for sure.