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In the Fast Lane with Tyler Reddick

For the most part, all Tyler Reddick's done is win, win, win. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

For the most part, all Tyler Reddick’s done is win, win, win. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

With the sense of humor of Kenny Wallace and the tenacity of Kevin Harvick, Corning, Calif. native Tyler Reddick doesn’t take much for granted with his racing career.  Certainly, the 23-year-old defending NASCAR XFINITY Series Champion has worked hard to be where he is today.

Coming off a championship season that was book ended by wins at Daytona and Homestead, Reddick took his talents to Richard Childress Racing’s No. 2 Chevrolet team in 2019.  While transitioning from the thriving JR Motorsports campus to a well-established organization, Reddick has turned up the wick with his performances.

In this case, Reddick has three wins and the points lead following the LTi Printing 250 at Michigan International Speedway.  By and large, the cagey racer has balanced maturity and aggression on the track this year.

Still, Reddick strives towards a balance towards achieving results on the track while enjoying life with his hobbies.  In the long run, one could say he won’t experience stock car fatigue with his tried and true mindset.

Recently, I caught up with Reddick to not only discuss his stellar start, but to also showcase more of his personality.  Needless to say, this is a racer possessing character and wit.  With that in mind, let’s get “In the Fast Lane with Tyler Reddick!”

Rob Tiongson :  It’s been a terrific year for you as you’ve scored wins at Michigan, Talladega and Charlotte and you hold the points lead as of press time.  As the defending champion, how happy or how excited are you about your strong start to the year and being at your new home with Richard Childress Racing?

Arms raised in victory. (Photo Credit: Daniel Overbey/TPF)

Arms raised in victory. (Photo Credit: Daniel Overbey/TPF)

Tyler Reddick :  As you said, it’s been really exciting.  As you’ve noted, the start to our year has been really good.  Things are going well even on days that should be, what you would call, a trainwreck of a day.  We still have been able to recover from those moments.  And one of them, we’ve won a race and another, we rebounded and kept our streak of top-fives alive.

It’s just been an outstanding effort by everybody with me coming into this team over the offseason.  I was just really feeling the positive vibes and motivated energy from all of the people within the shop.  As if I could get more motivated, coming off a championship, they did.  They got me fired up that much more.

Rob Tiongson :  You made the transition smoothly from JR Motorsports to Richard Childress Racing this year.  With the strong start you’ve had and the factors around it, do you feel that the transition has been smooth and do you feel a chip on your shoulder to prove you can win the championship again?

Tyler Reddick :  I mean, yea.  We all know how hard it is to go back-to-back with the current points format.  Definitely cushioning ourselves the best that we can right now and the regular season’s going to help us that much more when it comes down to Playoffs time.  You know, I just want to go out there and have fun and run as well as I can for my team and try to be smarter than I was last year, for sure.

Rob Tiongson :  Along the way, you’ve made some starts this year, including the Daytona 500 and at Kansas.  Does it sometimes feel too good to be true knowing you’ve been able to race a few times in the Cup ranks?

Reddick's made his presence known in NXS and Cup races this year. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

Reddick’s made his presence known in NXS and Cup races this year. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

Tyler Reddick :  It’s pretty crazy.  I mean, to make my first start for Richard, not in the XFINTIY car, but in the Cup car, it’s actually pretty crazy.  I didn’t think about that until I was rolling out for the Duels that I was going to be starting in a Cup car before an XFINITY car for him, which was unreal.  The things that we’ve been able to do so far in the XFINITY side have been a lot of fun.  The limited opportunities that we’ve had in the Cup side, we try to make the most of.

And I feel like for the most part, we’ve kinda taken it and ran with it.  Daytona didn’t go great at the end, but the team showed a lot of resiliency.  We had a lot of damage and to just get the car back on the lead lap, repaired, and back up to speed with the pack, it’s a statement within itself of the true grit that the team has.

Rob Tiongson :  Some of your peers keep sharp by working out while others compete in other divisions or series during the week.  What is your outlet that helps keep you razor sharp in that car?

Tyler Reddick :  It’s a little bit of mix of everything.  I don’t really even ride my road bike that much more for physical fitness other than just fun.  I work out at the gym at the shop every day that I’m there, so normally, I would say three to four days a week, I’m normally up there.

Some weeks, as they continue to get more busier, that’s more challenging but you just try to maintain it once you get to the summer.  We had our first really hot race at Charlotte, and it went really well.  I felt fine by the end of it.  So, I think I’m in a pretty good spot in the XFINITY race.  Now, obviously, if you run a Cup race or two that are going to be really hot, then that would be the next true benchmark to see if I need to do more work.

Right now, everything’s good on that front so it’s all about maintaining by having fun but trying to just keep your body in the best shape you can.  Outside of that, I feel like trying to distract myself the best that I can by working on the cars at the house.  I don’t even have racecars anymore, so I now just rip apart my street cars and make them undrivable and at the same time, unreliable because everything I touch breaks more times than not.

It’s a good little mix of staying focused but then breaking it up with good distractions so you just don’t feel like you’re constantly running purely on racing so the grind and the length of the year doesn’t get to you.

Rob Tiongson :  It’s interesting to hear that you like to work on cars.  Would you say it’s an asset for you, as a younger driver to be knowledgeable about cars?

Savvy and smooth, Reddick may make some 1980's music fans happy. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

Savvy and smooth, Reddick may make some 1980’s music fans happy. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

Tyler Reddick :  Yes and no.  These stock cars are so much different than what today’s cars are like on the inside.  The suspension pieces haven’t changed since the late 50’s to mid 60’s, it seems like.  Other than that, the cars are current, the bodies…they have a lot of cool technology within them, just lots of suspension parts and designs are somewhat archaic.

But that makes them fun to drive, nevertheless.  I feel like it’s incredible that we’re able to take a car, suspension wise speaking, as old as it is, and go as fast as we do, is quite a feat in itself.  A lot of the cars that I grew up racing were a lot different than what these cars are right now and today, the rear suspension is a lot different.  But the front and some of the other things there are similar.

Working on that stuff, on my dirt late models or sprint cars, midgets, whatever it was, having known what to work on, I sort of have a baseline idea of what goes on under there.  It does help.

I never really get my hands dirty, essentially if you would say, on race day because these guys that are on my team are so good at what they do that if I jumped in to help, I’d just take three times longer and get in their way, so I just stay out of it.

Rob Tiongson :  Die-cast cars are a great way for fans to connect with teams and drivers like you.  What’s it mean to see your rides replicated in miniature form and did you collect them as a kid?

Tyler Reddick :  Yea, I collect a lot of the little diecasts, the 1/64s.  I had a couple of 1/24s.  And I had a lot of Outlaw sprint cars growing up and not necessarily a lot of NASCAR diecasts.

So, it is pretty crazy that I’m signing windshields and signing cars that are handed to me that are being given to a kid or signing one that a kid has in their possession, because I was that kid not too long ago, like 15-18 years ago.

Rob Tiongson :  Every driver in this garage area has experienced their “Welcome to NASCAR” moment.  Whether good, funny, or memorable, what moment made you feel initiated or embraced by your peers in the sport?

Tyler Reddick :  That’s a good question.  I don’t know…I feel like my initiation moment…probably the best one would be my first year running part-time for Brad Keselowski Racing at Pocono.  A driver that’s no longer racing in NASCAR, go figure…(laughs)..decided he didn’t like…he didn’t have a very good job holding on to his racecar, so he felt like taking it out on me and right hooking me.

So, whenever we got our Truck fixed, I go back out there, ran him down, and did the very same thing to him and I got parked, sent to the NASCAR hauler, wrist slapped, and sent on my way.  Funny enough, I had the next two months off on my schedule, but a lot of people thought I got parked by NASCAR.  But, it was just the laps that we already had on my schedule.

And then I left there, went back, and won a dirt race.  So, it didn’t really seem to bother me too bad.

Rob Tiongson :  That’s a unique “Welcome to NASCAR” moment from all of my years covering the sport. (laughs)

Perhaps Reddick's sponsor perfectly describes his racing nature. (Photo Credit: Andrew Fuller/TPF)

Perhaps Reddick’s sponsor perfectly describes his racing nature. (Photo Credit: Andrew Fuller/TPF)

Tyler Reddick :  I mean, I was five or six races in, but that was the first initiation, rough moment that I had.  A lot of people were not too happy with me, but it is what it is.  I guess you can wreck someone…if you wreck them first, you right hook them, it’s OK.  But if you retaliate by right hooking them, it’s not OK.  And I figured it out that day.

Rob Tiongson :  If you ever got to be in a game show or reality show where you had to be paired up with a fellow driver, what show would you want to be on, and which driver would you choose?

Tyler Reddick :  I would probably have to go with William Byron.  I feel like he’s really smart, but I could be wrong.  A lot of us drivers, their college is growing up racing.  (laughs) They don’t actually go to college.  William went to college and raced.  So, I would say he’s probably the most knowledgeable.

There’s a lot of other smart drivers out there.  I think John Hunter Nemechek has done some classes off and on throughout the year to further understand the racecars.  I would say overall, the most knowledgeable would be William.  But Spencer Gallagher knows a lot about a lot of different things too, so he’s probably another good one too.

Rob Tiongson :  And what game show would that be?

Tyler Reddick :  It’d probably have to be “Jeopardy!.”  Spencer would know a lot about Jeopardy.  I don’t watch a lot of game shows.  So, “Jeopardy!” Is the one that comes to mind.  Is Wheel of Fortune a game of show?  I’d probably have to go with “Jeopardy!.”

Rob Tiongson :  Let’s say you’re allowed to play some music in your racecar instead of hearing your team and you’ve got a 15 second lead with 10 to go in the race.  Name at least three or four songs that would be on your playlist.

Tyler Reddick :  Man, I couldn’t listen to a song.  I just couldn’t do it.  I’ve been in that spot and you’re just too nervous.  Like, if you’re listening to a song, it would be a distraction unless you’re listening to it the whole race, and that’s how you got there.  But if a song came on or something changed those last 0 laps, it would drive me insane.

I’ve been in that spot…but I’ll give you a song – “The Final Countdown” by Europe.  That would be funny. (laughs) When you’re out front with 15 laps, you’re just having a nervous breakdown and waiting for something to go wrong.  So, in a very funny and comical way, “The Final Countdown” would be the perfect song.  From start to end, it’d be about a four or five minute song, so that’d work.

Rob Tiongson :  We’ve seen a lot of racing movies in recent times but not too many NASCAR ones in full depth.  If we were to make a biopic about yourself, which actor would you want to star as you?

It's once, twice, three times a winner. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

It’s once, twice, three times a winner. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

Tyler Reddick :  I mean, height wise, the best one would be Tom Cruise, but he’s already been in Days of Thunder. (laughs) I don’t know.  Height wise, the only other actor that I could think of…

Kayla Whapham:  How about the guy that played “The Hobbit?”

Rob Tiongson :  Elijah Wood?

Tyler Reddick :  He’s short.  I think it’d be funny if Kevin Hart could play me in a movie because he’d be really funny.  He’d be a comedian.  He’s about my height and as tall as I am.  Obviously, there’s some other differences, but he could do the role well.  I mean, he’s a funny guy and I feel like I can be funny sometimes, whether I try to or not.  Mainly when I try too hard, it’s not funny but naturally, I have my moments.

Editor’s Notes

Special thanks to Tyler Reddick and Kayla Whapham for their time and hospitality during the Michigan race weekend!  To learn more about Tyler, “Follow” him on Twitter, “Like” his Facebook page, and “Visit

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing. Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Journalism at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's an everywhere kind of man residing in Texas.

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