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In the Hot Seat with Tyler Reddick (Part I)

Tyler Reddick has plentiful reasons to smile in 2022. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Tyler Reddick has plentiful reasons to smile in 2022. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

When it comes to a driver with emerging superstar status in NASCAR, the name Tyler Reddick frequently comes up. After all, he’s a two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion and third year Cup racer with plentiful potential and raw talent.

No matter if it’s Daytona or Fontana, Reddick typically and bravely runs his No. 8 Chevy Camaro by the top groove for maximum grip and speed. As he gains confidence and experience, the 26-year-old Corning, California native becomes a genuine contender against the powerhouse drivers and teams in Cup.

Moreover, along with teammate Austin Dillon, it’s safe to say that Reddick has catalyzed the progress of Richard Childress Racing’s Cup efforts. Reddick and crew chief Randall Burnett continually bring RCR closer toward authentic, consistent contenders for wins and the championship.

Despite Reddick’s youth and enthusiasm, he’s mature, focused and meticulous with his racecraft. He might need some help with the concept of time, but he at least has clocking in hot lap times down pat in his Cup ride.

Earlier this week, I caught up with Reddick via Zoom teleconference as he prepares for the annual West Coast Swing. In the first of this two part interview, Reddick expresses optimism about his chances to contend for wins and this year’s title field.

Now, grab your helmet and firesuit because you’re about to get “In the Hot Seat with Tyler Reddick” for this first part here on The Podium Finish!

Rob Tiongson : Tyler, thank you for joining me today to take the time to talk to us here on The Podium Finish and The Podium Finish Live! I know you just raced the new Next Gen car in LA and at the Daytona 500, a race that offered a lot of promise before that frustrating finish.

So, given all the newness surrounding the sport with the new car and the different drivers and team combinations out there, how excited are you about this new NASCAR look to the Cup Series?

Reddick looks forward to the challenges of the new Next Gen car. (Photo: Jonathan Huff | The Podium Finish)

Reddick looks forward to the challenges of the new Next Gen car. (Photo: Jonathan Huff | The Podium Finish)

Tyler Reddick : Very because there’s just a lot of potential for really any driver, any team to really step up to the plate and deliver. I think what we’ve seen, so far, is a very limited sampling. But at The Clash and at Daytona, certainly all the little details matter even more than they did before. And I think that was something that the Cup Series has always been and I think this car should help with that.

You know, the drivers and teams that do their homework, bring a really good prepared racecar, they’re going to be able to showcase that much more than I think you’ve been able to see at times, especially this last year where a lot of the tracks we went to on the mile and a half side and intermediate side with the 550 package. Hendrick or Larson or Hamlin, or whoever it was, was just good everywhere because they had more downforce, they had more of this, they have more of that.

Not really necessarily things that you need to tune in for, you know, to the drivability of the car every single weekend. And I think the teams are going to have that opportunity here, it seems, anyways, to start the year.

Tiongson : I think it’s really promising. You mentioned a good point about how most of the last few years had high aero package, low horsepower package. And now we’ve got the 670 coming up starting this weekend at Fontana. So, kind of a sub question to that. Kyle Larson recently complimented you during Daytona Speedweek saying that of the drivers out there, you remind him of him back then. So how do you think about that coming from a past Cup champion?

Reddick : Well, it was very cool to hear. But, also at the same time, or well, also at the same time, I think some of that comes from us growing up racing together. I got to race around him a lot, learn from him a lot and, so, our progression from day one of our lives in racing came from a lot of same roots. So I think a lot of the same driving style or techniques or just habits, I think come from that a little bit. But it is so really cool to hear.

You know, he was the benchmark last year. And I knew going into it, he was gonna, I don’t know if everybody saw it, but I know it from working with him, I know it from growing up, racing against him, that when he stepped into that car last year that he was going to be a favorite. And, he was able to pull it off.

He did a good job. And to go out and set goals for this year, for me, personally, what I need to do, what our team needs to do, if we want to be the contender that we’re striving for, he’s somebody that we got to go out and compete really hard against and shoot to be able to race him, week in and week out with him.

So, for him to say that, it does mean a lot, not just for myself, but, hopefully it instills confidence in my team and all the other people that are putting a lot of work into. It’s not just me out there. It’s the people behind the scenes, the crew chiefs, the engineers, everybody in the shop putting work into these cars. And, you know, we’re hoping that the hard work is gonna pay off starting off pretty soon.

Tiongson : I imagine so. I mean, we saw the fruits of the labor last year when you made the playoffs with that rather dramatic but memorable rally in last summer’s Daytona regular season finale race. So, you talked a little bit about the progress that the team has made.

I’m just kind of curious because you’ve been with the campus for the last few years on the Cup side of things for RCR and working with teammate Austin Dillon. What are some things, specifically, that you’re looking to build off of from last year to this new year?

Suffice to say, Reddick wants to close out on those promising race performances. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Suffice to say, Reddick wants to close out on those promising race performances. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Reddick : I think it’s just, for me personally, it’s just about executing races. I think in some ways, even the No. 3 group, you know, they probably would say some of the same things. They might have it ranked differently, but my number one is certainly that because we had a lot of, I thought, we had a lot of good cars and a number of great cars last year.

And while we still got good finishes with those cars, there was a number of races where certainly one or two less mistakes in the race could have totally netted a totally different outcome for us. It would have gotten us the result we’ve been working really hard for, and that’s winning races.

So, for me, it kind of doubling down on…or it isn’t the kind of. It’s doubling down on what we wanted to improve on last year. We saw improvement in it. But we still have work to do there. And we’ll probably never stop working on trying to run more complete mistake free races, because it is tough to do over the course of 400 or 500 and 600 mile races.

Tiongson : You actually touched upon my next point, and I’m convinced that you have my list of questions already, right here! And if you do, I wish I had your magical powers. You kind of talked about the grind of the season. It’s no secret, I mean, 38 races in a year, that’s insane for most folks who can comprehend. But how do you balance such demands of NASCAR to keep refreshed, and also keep focused on what’s going on during the year?

Reddick : I mean, for me, it’s really easy, I’m fortunate for that, and it’s my drive, my passion for it. I dedicated my life to racing. And so for me, it’s really easy to have, to not lose that, to stay focused, to stay committed, because for 22 plus years, I’ve been striving for this, striving to get better at this. And, it’s been a process.

Certainly, in my life, in my career I’ve went through, I didn’t realize it at the time, but certainly, reflecting on it and gone through highs and lows, a lot of really bad dips. But, thankfully, I was able to find the other side of it, dig ourselves out of those holes. And in some of those years, we’re able to come back and do crazy things like win championships on the Xfinity side.

So, it’s a work in progress. It’s not easy, but it’s been really nice to become more efficient with my schedule and to have a higher efficiency from the work I’m putting in. It takes a while to kind of, and it will continue to change and evolve, but the time you put in into the sport or into racing, whatever it might be, does translate. But anytime that you can make something more useful or make better use of your time, that just means you can get more done through the week and be better prepared. So that’s a never ending process.

And, you know, I personally love that part of the racing or just part of life. It is just trying to continue to figure out how to be better. How can I get better here get better there? You know, even some of the silly things or may seem silly to when it comes to driving a racecar, but trying to get better on time. Marissa, my PR girl, I drive her crazy. (chuckles)

But, you know, believe it or not, I used to be, I guess the Tony Stewart type of late and that’s really, really late and just trying to get better at just everything. The more in time you are, the more make use of your time, the more you’re making use of other people’s time. And you know, it just takes everything.

Tiongson : I know the feeling my friend. Hopefully, there’s a watch sponsorship on the way for you…

Reddick was on time for Daytona Speedweeks. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Reddick was on time for Daytona Speedweeks. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Reddick : Yeah, unfortunately for my watch, you know, it’s still holding up but it ate asphalt at 30 miles an hour a couple years ago. But it’s not giving up on me. It’s still working. Yeah, even when I wear a watch, I still lose track of time.

There’s unfortunately that. I could have it. I could have it tattooed on me. I could have it on my phone on my watch. Even if it has a heads up display with the time on it, I still lose track of it. It’s a never ending process to try and get better at managing time and not wasting other people’s time as well.

Editor’s Notes

Special thanks to Tyler Reddick for taking the time for his latest interview with TPF! Also, thanks to Marissa Fuller of Richard Childress Racing for making this possible! Stay tuned for Part II of Reddick’s latest “Hot Seat” interview.

For now, in addition to TPF, keep updated with Tyler Reddick on his socials via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson 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 is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

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