By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Editor’s note: Motorsports Tribune will be previewing the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season for the full-time drivers in the series leading into February’s running of the Daytona 500.
Years in Cup: Rookie
Career Wins: Nine Xfinity Series wins and Three Truck Series wins
Accomplishments: 2x Xfinity Series champion (2018 and 2019)
Heading into the 2019 season, few expected Tyler Reddick being a guy that would set the NASCAR world on fire after leaving JR Motorsports for Richard Childress Racing in the Xfinity Series, which many felt it was a downgrade.
Reddick wouldn’t waste any time by proving those people wrong. In fact, switching teams became a blessing in disguise as RCR put their chips on him compared to playing second fiddle to veteran Justin Allgaier at JRM.
This led Reddick having one of the best title defenses in series history, scoring six wins and led the series in top-fives (24 of 33 races), top-10s (27) and average finish (6.3). All of those attributed the Californian to head into the Championship 4 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a shot of being the first driver to win two titles for two different teams.
In a title battle for the ages, “The Big Three” (consisting of Reddick, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer) put on a phenomenal show and when the checkered flag waved, it was Reddick who tamed the competition that night and won his second straight title.
Thanks to the superb team chemistry of Reddick, crew chief Randall Burnett and the entire No. 2 RCR team, it convinced Richard Childress promoting the entire squad into the highest level in 2020, replacing Cup Rookie of the Year Daniel Hemric in the No. 8 Caterpillar Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE.
“I’m beyond grateful to everyone at Richard Childress Racing for their support throughout this entire year and continued support into next year,” Reddick on moving up to Cup. “It means a lot to me that Richard, his team, and Caterpillar believe in my ability to represent them both on and off the racetrack.
“My goal was always to get to race on Sundays, and I’m so excited to achieve that next year with RCR, ECR and Caterpillar. I’m excited to take this next step in my career with their support.”
For Burnett, it’ll be a return to Cup as he spent two seasons calling the shots for A.J. Allmendinger (all of 2016 and the first seven races of 2017) before joining RCR’s Xfinity program.
Burnett said he’s excited returning to Cup and continue working with Reddick, believing their teamwork could eventually lead to RCR heading back to its winning ways. A trait that’s been missing at RCR, who’ve only won three times since Kevin Harvick left the team at the end of 2013, and are still eyeing for its first Cup title since Dale Earnhardt in 1994.
“We had a lot of fun working together in the Xfinity Series while capturing the championship, so I’m looking forward to taking on the challenges of the Cup Series with him,” Burnett said. “Our goal is to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year, which we’ll have some tough competition for next season, but also to get RCR back to the level of competition where I know we can be.
“We’d love to be competing in the top-five during the year and contending for wins, and I think it is possible if we put in the amount of work that I know we can. It’s going to be an exciting year for us all around, especially with great partners like Caterpillar on board the No. 8 Chevrolet.”
While most people were buzzing about his 2019 Xfinity campaign, the 23-year-old also made two Cup starts in a third RCR entry. Reddick debuted in the Daytona 500 where a pit road accident defined a disappointing 27th place result.
However, his latest start in the spring race at Kansas Speedway was where he impressed the competition. Reddick worked his way up from 21st to finish an impressive ninth. Meanwhile, teammates Austin Dillon and Hemric, who will run part-time at JRM in Xfinity this season, wound up 17th and 18th respectively.
Reddick will be a part of a stacked Rookie of the Year class that’ll include the other “Big Three” drivers (Bell and Custer), John Hunter Nemechek, Quin Houff, and Brennan Poole.