By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Tyler Reddick rallied from 29th to score a strong runner-up result in Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400, capping off a positive news week for Richard Childress Racing.
On a day where non-playoff drivers really showed their muscle against the 12 playoff drivers. Some came and went due to various circumstances. Such as AJ Allmendinger finishing second in Stage 1 only for an engine failure knocking him out of the race.
For Reddick, his No. 8 Lenovo Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE continually got better throughout the 109-lap race.
This was displayed with 14 laps to go when Reddick was in sight of the lead group. Hungry for second, the 24-year-old intimidated Kyle Larson by tapping the rear bumper and put the left side wheels on the apron of Turn 13 to get the job done.
Reddick would never reach the top spot in the closing laps, but faced pressure from William Byron, who needed a win to advance into the Round of 8.
Five laps prior of Reddick passing Larson, he ended up hitting Byron, who was running second at the time. Consequently, Byron missed the chicane, forcing him to give up several spots and blended back into the race in 12th.
Cautions breed cautions and Byron ultimately rallied back to third, trailing Larson and Reddick. With two laps left, Byron lost control and hit the Turn 5 barriers with two laps remaining. It eliminated him from the playoffs, securing Reddick the runner-up spot as he had a sizeable gap on Chris Buescher.
Larson went on to score his seventh Cup win of the year while Reddick earned his third-career P2 effort.
“I am fired up because we had a really good car today,” Reddick after finishing second. “We had to start 29th because of crashing at Talladega last week and didn’t have a great pit stall because of that as well.
“It really forced our hand to be off sequence and we were in a situation there pretty early in Stage 1 where we were on new tires. I thought I had established myself in the outside and got in the wall and knocked both sides in and that hurt me a little bit.
“As the race progressed and we were in that situation where we were trying to chase Kyle down and I just knew we couldn’t change anything about what happened. It does leave a ‘what if’ in your mind. It’s like if I hadn’t crashed this car early in the race, and almost ended our day, it should have been a little bit faster.”
During the cool down lap, Reddick lost control but got it back going without harm. Things further intensified after getting out of his car when Byron needed to chat with him.
Reddick told Byron that he knew what was racing for and slid onto him at the exit of the chicane.
Byron’s response was that it hurt his outcome and he doesn’t get it.
A subdued Reddick felt disappointed about running into Byron.
“I just flat out made a mistake and ran in the back of the 24,” said Reddick. “I am trying to stay as close as I can, and we are all trying to brake to the limit of the car and I got to the bumper trying to put myself back in position again to make a pass to the inside or outside.
“I got into the back of him ever so slightly and that is all it took to unhook the rear tires. Not on purpose,” Reddick continued. “It’s just that small amount of contact that changed the trajectory that much. That was shocking to me and sure disappointing.”
Despite the low point, Reddick was amazed at RCR’s efforts at The ROVAL. Thanking them and Kaulig Racing (Allmendinger’s team) for making him and Austin Dillon (finished 15th) competitive.
“It’s gone in the right direction really well,” said Reddick. “Having AJ come in and be a part of Kaulig Racing and work on making our stuff better on the Xfinity side, and now on the Cup side, has really helped.
“Our team worked really hard in the off season to clean up and make better what was our worst type of racing. A year ago here, I was absolutely terrible and just dreading getting to it, but now with this car, we felt like we had the best shot to win. Its just a shame to not take advantage of it.”