TALLADEGA, Ala.—Tyler Reddick wasn’t going to allow a trio of mishaps to derail his path to Victory Lane in the MoneyLion 300 on Saturday.
Reddick hit the wall. He hit Noah Gragson. He was busted for speeding down pit road. Most teams would have been disheartened after the right side of the car was destroyed, particularly at a track as aero-dependent as Talladega Superspeedway.
But the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing team didn’t fold.
“I had to risk it for the biscuit,” Reddick said after collecting the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus and scoring his first win with RCR. “I wasn’t going down without a fight.”
Sometimes the battle makes the victory that much sweeter. Reddick not only picked up his first win of the season, but he also delivered the first career victory for his crew chief Randall Burnett, who called 106 races sans win.
“With all the adversity we went through today, to be able to get back up there and fight for the win was pretty amazing,” Burnett said. “It said a lot about our team. We feel like we gave up a couple this year, so far, so it’s nice to kind of redeem ourselves.
“It’s really cool to get your first win at Talladega, for sure. There’s never a dull moment here. And I think anybody watching this race today would agree. It was cool to get up there. Tyler is just an amazing talent. He’s all over it. We’re having a lot of fun with it. We really enjoy it. And bringing fast cars every week doesn’t hurt either.”
Reddick took the lead on Lap 1 then won the first stage. A speeding penalty on Lap 27 knocked the driver back to 30th for the Lap 32 restart. He finished 10th in the second stage despite slapping the wall and multiple trips to pit road for repairs.
“It was just a wild day,” Reddick said. “We had a great car. The day started out great. We were doing everything we needed to do as a team. I had a hiccup on pit road. We lost a couple of spots from there. That put us back.
“I don’t know what happened. I like running close to the wall—and just ran into it. I don’t understand it. But where I hit it, there’s a plate that connects two segments of wall—I think they had a gate there—and it killed the right side of our car and it was coming apart the second part of that stage. I was still able to score stage points then come down pit road and work on it. The day just kept getting crazier.”
A debris caution on Lap 66 enabled the team to work on the car, but 20 laps into the final stage, Reddick tangled with Gragson—a move he later regretted considering that the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevy was the only car he could rely on to draft.
Reddick survived a seven-car wreck that eliminated two of the Dash 4 Cash contenders—Cole Custer and Justin Allgaier—on Lap 95. Before the race returned to full song, NASCAR called the seventh caution for debris on Lap 103 as Reddick returned to the point.
With the No. 2 RCR Chevy ahead of pack, he was able to avoid the eighth and final caution on Lap 109 involving Jeffrey Earnhardt, John Hunter Nemechek, Jeremy Clements, David Starr, Timmy Hill, Alex Labbe and Allgaier.
Following a 14-minute, eight-second red flag delay, Reddick led the field to green on Lap 112 with two laps to decide the race. He held off a charge from both Christopher Bell, then Gray Gaulding to collect his fourth Xfinity Series win in his 60th-career start. His margin of victory over Gaulding was .127-seconds on the 2.66-mile track.
Bell, Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric, Nemechek, Justin Haley, Josh Williams, Landon Cassill and Chris Cockrum rounded out the top 10. And Reddick, the defending Xfinity champion, increased his advantage in the standings by 32 points over Bell.
But the race highlighted the growing camaraderie between Reddick, Burnett and spotter Derek Kneeland—who previously worked with both Reddick and Burnett at Ganassi Racing. This is a trio that truly enjoys racing with each other. All three have competed behind the wheel and their chemistry shows.
“Derek and Randall already knew each other from their days at Ganassi,” Reddick said. “I knew Derek from my days at Ganassi Racing when I was running part-time. The dude is always on it. He’s very passionate about racing. He’s very passionate about what he does. That’s something I really enjoyed about him. With the unfortunate thing that happened to Ganassi’s Xfinity program this year, Derek was looking for a spotting gig. As soon as he opened up, I got him immediately—and Randall was on board with it because he worked with him before.
“Me and Randall, we just spent a lot of time together. He was at the championship party we had at Whisky River. Like from Day 1—season-ending—even as we were celebrating my championship, we were getting to know each other. Having a few drinks together. Having fun together. That just pushed along everything.
“He’s raced dirt. He’s raced asphalt. His brother owns Millbridge Speedway. So he loves racing like I do. We have a lot of things we can relate on. He and I just get along really well. It’s a great relationship. And it’s crazy to think that this is his first win, but I was really happy to get him his first win, too.”