By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
Despite being the defending NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion, Tyler Reddick feels like he is making his debut at Pocono Raceway this weekend.
Although Reddick finished ninth in the Pocono Green 250 last year, the series ran the restricted aero duct package that weekend. This year, his No. 2 TAME THE BEAST Chevrolet Camaro SS team will the same package that the series has utilized all season long.
Reddick is not alone as less than half the field entered for Saturday’s race had competed at the 2.5-mile ‘Tricky Triangle’ with a similar aerodynamic package that the series will use this weekend. The package that the Xfinity Series will be using may allow for shifting as drivers attempt to keep their momentum on the long straightaways.
“I really can’t take anything from last year since we had that different package we were running at Pocono, so this weekend almost feels like a debut for me,” Reddick admitted. “It’s going to be a completely different ball game from last year to this year.
“We may be shifting again, which is something I’ve always found to be challenging. The straightaway speeds are going to be a lot higher than they were last year, too. Some of the guys in the series who raced at Pocono two years ago will definitely have a one-up on me. However, I have a lot of faith in my No. 2 Tame the Beast team headed into the weekend.”
The Richard Childress Racing driver earned his second victory of the season last weekend in the Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Just 11 races into the season, Reddick has already earned the same number of victories he did on route to his championship with JR Motorsports last year.
The 23-year-old has also earned more top-five finishes this season than he did in his championship season. Reddick has earned eight straight top-five finishes this season. The worst finish for the Corning, CA native this season is 14th, after he was swept up in a wreck in overtime at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“We’ve got some good momentum going right now after capturing our second win of the season and continuing our streak of top-five finishes,” Reddick explained. “I know this week and next week will be challenging, but I also thought the same thing going into Charlotte so if we work as hard as we did that weekend we’ll be in a good spot.”
Entering Pocono, Reddick has a 65-point lead over Christopher Bell. He is one of four Xfinity regulars to have earned a win this season, including Bell, Cole Custer, and Michael Annett.
Pocono is guaranteed to have a fourth different winner with none of its’ previous winners entered. Xfinity regulars have never won at the Long Pond, PA track.