LOS ANGELES – A year ago, a transaxle failure eliminated Tyler Reddick from a possible victory in the Busch Light Clash.
Heading into Sunday’s race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, he’s among the favorites to repeat similar success. Only this time, it’ll be done under the 23XI Racing banner.
Replacing the recently retired Kurt Busch, who has yet to be medically clear to race in NASCAR, Reddick observed how smooth his transition has been with his new team during Saturday’s press conference.
This was apparent when discussing about the changes that could unravel at the temporary quarter-mile track especially with the second season racing the Next Gen stock car.
“I definitely think the knowledge that everyone has learned from the Clash last year. Whether that was doing the right things or as unfortunately with (RCR), the wrong things. But everybody has learned a lot about this car,” Reddick said. “There were some other things people just don’t know what the car can handle. What we can push, what we can’t. I expect the race to be a lot different.
“As for me, I’ve really tried to lean on what I was able to find last year. Certainly, with a new team and manufacturer, we really had to go work and figure out where we were going to have our cars when it showed up.”
Reddick was highly complimentary of his team’s performance which has made his move seamless as possible.
“The team did a great job,” he said. “Right from the get-go, from my perspective, the car drove really good. Good than what the cars did last year did on the simulator, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Despite being a pre-race favorite, Denny Hamlin, co-owner of 23XI Racing and driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota entry, saw a different perspective. Those who were strong a year ago may or may not be now that race teams have learned some of the kinks of the car.
Hamlin’s teammate, Christopher Bell, observed this notion as everyone has learned a great deal about the car since last year’s Busch Light Clash.
“I wouldn’t bank on that because some teams were just out left field because they haven’t ran this type of car on a small type of short track before,” Hamlin commented. “We kind of leaned on some Martinsville stuff when we came here, but that stuff was terrible here. It was terrible in the first Martinsville race, but we fixed Martinsville. Hopefully it’s fixes here.”
Hamlin added that qualifying is going to be a huge factor on who will contend for the Clash once the field of 36 reduces to 27 come main event time. When qualifying was settled, Reddick was 19th overall which puts him fifth in Heat Race No. 3, the very cutoff spot in order to advance into the 150-lap main event right away.
Entering his fourth season in the Cup Series, Reddick had a really good offseason after a breakout 2022 campaign with three victories and 14th place points standings finish. With the Richard Childress Racing chapter over, all eyes are on his No. 45 MoneyLion Toyota Camry.
“I stayed really busy and Bubba (Wallace) had a lot going on too on the personal side of things that he had to take care of. A lot of preparation so time really flew by from my perspective and we got a lot of things done,” said Reddick. “The team really got to spend time the right way working on things.
“Certainly, all of us as we were coming in here were beyond ready and chomping at the bit to get back on the race track. Really excited about it and where the gains were made. Felt like what we had in the simulator was really, really close so we’ll see.”