Tyler Reddick wins with RCR weeks after announcing split: 'Need to be a better driver now'
INDIANAPOLIS -- Can time, champagne, a few beers and winning mend the most broken of fences?
Tyler Reddick and Richard Childress will let us know soon enough.
Because in the 19 days since Reddick “crashed” a Toyota video call with reporters that included Joe Gibbs Racing driver/23XI Racing owner Denny Hamlin, Toyota Racing Development David Wilson and 23XI Racing president Steve Lauletta to make the surprise announcement of his plans to leave Richard Childress Racing after 2023 for 23XI, the 26-year-old driver said Sunday he hadn’t spoken with his team owner of four years.
Not until Victory Lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, after Reddick grabbed pole, led 38 laps and held onto his second win of the month over two final late-race restarts in Sunday’s Verizon 200. It capped a chaotic, career-altering month for Reddick, who marked his first career Cup series win July 3 at Road America, broke his earth-shattering news July 12, wound up runner-up at Pocono on July 24 (following to post-race DQs of the original top-two cars) and then won from pole Sunday.
Reddick clarified Sunday that before he hopped on the Toyota video call July 12 and shocked the racing world, he’d informed Childress of his plans and also addressed his entire No. 8 Chevy crew. There had been no communication between the driver and owner in the three race weekends since.
“But a win can smooth things right over,” Reddick said Sunday. “I told him, ‘As long as I’m racing here, I’m going to do everything I can to win races for this team. I’d love to win a championship or two with them. They’ve helped me come so far as a driver, and I’m going to give them everything I’ve got.
“I need to be a better driver now so we can go win as many races as possible together.”
Reddick pushed back against the notion that he owes his No. 8 crew or Childress anything more because of how the announcement was handled or because of how far in advance things were announced. Still, there’s an added ounce of pressure all the same that he’s found he’s putting on himself.
“But if anything, my own motivation is a little bit higher – not a significant amount,” he said. “But it’s like, now we have a hard stop. This will be the end of the road we have together, and I want to keep finding more ways to bring the best we have to the track. Now that we know when the end’s going to be, we have to take advantage of every moment possible.
“For me, it makes me push hard, and we’re all working really hard together to give it every ounce we have to win as many races as we can.”
More on NASCAR on the IMS road course:
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- NASCAR's new car proved challenging at IMS road course in Verizon 200
With Reddick’s win on the IMS road course, RCR now has its first multi-win season since 2017 and its first multi-win driver over a single season since 2013. That season nine years ago, Kevin Harvick won four times and took 3rd-place in the title chase – coincidentally the last time Childress was embroiled in loss of one of the series’ stars with news that broke more than a year in advance of the move.
The weekend of the penultimate race of the 2012 season, ESPN’s Marty Smith broke the news that Harvick had signed a deal with Stewart-Haas Racing for 2014 to follow the end of his current deal with RCR – his home for the first 13 years of his Cup career. In Smith’s news-breaking story, Childress balked at the report, telling ESPN, “I’ve got a contract for 2013, and this is 2012. I’m not talking to you about nothing (regarding that.)”
Asked if Harvick had told him he wouldn’t drive for RCR beyond 2013, Childress told ESPN at the time, “You need to go talk to them people. Don’t talk to me about it.”
More than two months later, Childress formally confirmed the news in the midst of his preseason press tour. “We had a meeting, and he told me his plans and we discussed what we were going do to in 2013,” Childress said in January 2013. Harvick, meanwhile, declined for some time to confirm any news of his plans beyond that season.
Childress didn't acknowledge the news leak, his angry comments and the two-month gap before he readdressed the elephant in the room more mildly on Sunday. Perhaps time can heal wounds or at least help write a different story.
Asked Sunday what it was like to get another win with Reddick despite the awkward way the news was broken and the long runway the pair still has together, the team owner said, “Kevin and I had talked through his whole ordeal, and we made a joint announcement. He won four races that year, and we almost won the championship.
“This one didn’t happen like that.”
Childress said Sunday that the conversation with Reddick where his driver relayed his future plans kept him up most of that next night, pondering deeply how to address his team and how to ensure his team could move forward in a productive manner. Though he said Sunday post-race that he, Reddick and the No. 8 crew would “give everything we’ve got, and then we’ll see where we go next year,” Childress confirmed Reddick would indeed drive out the end of his deal with RCR before his impending move to Toyota.
Asked if Reddick and the No. 8 Chevy crew, who are one of six entries this year with multiple wins, could win a Cinderella championship in 2022, Childress told Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass, “They’ve got a good shot. They’ve got a heck of a shot.”
In a motorsports world that’s embroiled in all sorts of driver-team contract chaos – whether it be Alexander Rossi’s long goodbye with Andretti Autosport (that included a win three years in the making at IMS Saturday), Daniel Ricciardo’s curious relationship with McLaren in F1, Kyle Busch’s inability to come to terms yet with longtime home Joe Gibbs Racing or Chip Ganassi Racing suing defending title-winner Alex Palou over his intended more to McLaren – the idea Reddick and RCR might be able to put their differences aside and elevate each other’s performance in closing their chapter together could end up being the most curious case of all.
“I wouldn’t be the road course racer I am without RCR and Chevy and the people on my team,” Reddick said. “I owe it to them, the people that have helped me get here, to do this for them. If anything, this has motivated me more than I ever thought possible before this all went into motion.”