A 15th-place finish is not the type of day Tyler Reddick is usually content with in the NASCAR Cup Series, but Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he was just happy to see the checkered flag.
“We didn’t get the finish we wanted out of that by any means,” Reddick told RACER, “but to show the speed that we did, to overcome all the crap all day long, is honestly what we needed to do.”
Of course, Reddick chuckled that he still nearly didn’t finish the race. Reddick said he was right behind AJ Allmendinger when the Kaulig Racing driver spun on the backstretch on the last lap in overtime. It cost Reddick a spot in a frantic run to the finish of the Pennzoil 400.
Sunday was the first time in three races Reddick has been running at the end of the race. Reddick was involved in crashes in the Daytona 500 and at Auto Club Speedway.
“Honestly, we were really solid all day long,” he said. “The speed we had in stage one didn’t vanish; it was there the entire race. But just about every time a caution would come out, I would just get back in front of Kyle (Busch) or right behind him and AJ (Allmendinger) would be a couple of cars behind us, so we were just absolutely boxed in all day long in our pit box.”
Busch’s team had the last pit stall on pit road near Turn 4. Reddick’s pit box was in front of Busch, and Allmendinger pitted in front of Reddick.
“That first stop, we lost all of our track position and slowly lost less and less (the rest of the day),” Reddick said. “Me and Kyle and AJ were kind of costing ourselves track position all day on pit road, unfortunately. The Monster Energy Toyota Camry had a lot of speed there that we showed when we finally got to the front.”
Reddick did crack the top 10 in the third stage. It was a long day for the 23XI Racing driver, who started 34th because he did not make a qualifying lap. Actually, Reddick’s first laps all weekend on the track were in the race because a mechanical concern Saturday resulted in the team changing engines to be safe, which kept him in the garage during practice and qualifying.
“It’s got speed,” Reddick said of his Toyota. “It had speed from the drop of the green, even without practice. It’s just a matter of if you don’t get practice or qualify, you’re not going to get a good pit stall. It’s about putting the whole weekend together. To get that (finish) out of it was a good rebound.”
Afterward, Reddick and his new team debriefed on pit road with smiles despite the rough start to the season.
“When you have a car that fast, it’s going to be really hard not to be excited and motivated,” Reddick said. “We didn’t even get to practice, and our car was dialed in — we drove from 34th to 10th or something. The car had so much speed, it was just the pit road stuff that really got us.
“We’re all feeling really good about how that all turned around. It makes me wonder how much better we would have been if we got to practice.”
Las Vegas was a much-needed step in the right direction for Reddick and company. Next comes building on it and earning the finishes they are capable.
“It’s just a matter of executing,” Reddick said. “The performance is there for sure, just whether it’s been Daytona, California or here, we haven’t done our pit crew any favors in really giving them a routine pit stop. We’re now three races in and I don’t think we’ve really had a sequence of maybe one or two pit stops all year long that was normal.
“We need normal days and if we do, I think we’ll be right in the top 10. Bubba (Wallace) was all day long, and our car was really close to his. So, top to bottom, got to show up, practice and qualify good and then go to the race from there and stay in the hunt. And get a good pit stall, so you’re not fighting that battle all day.”