AVONDALE, Ariz. – A rough and frustrating start for Tyler Reddick had to end at some point during the West Coast Swing.
After all, the 27-year-old Corning, California native is a far better driver than his finishes in the opening stanzas of the NASCAR Cup Series season.
Back-to-back accidents at Daytona and Fontana dropped the fifth year Cup racer to 38th place in the points standings. By all means, the driver of the No. 45 The Beast Unleashed Toyota Camry needed some relief from the madness.
Some relief came last weekend at Las Vegas as Reddick placed 15th which boosted him five positions. Of course, the three-time Cup race winner is capable of better results on any given race day.
Logging the 12th fastest effort in qualifying, Reddick made his presence known in Sunday’s United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway. Namely, he logged fifth place results in Stages 1 and 2, tallying 12 valuable stage points.
As the race reached its final moments, Reddick appeared to be in position for a solid top 10 result before a caution for Harrison Burton brought the field together for a critical, final round of pit stops.
While the majority of the lead lap contenders opted for two tires and fuel, Reddick and his No. 45 team, led by crew chief Billy Scott, opted for four fresh tires and fuel. Victory may have seemed like a foregone conclusion, but that did not faze Reddick with a challenging path to a triumph at Phoenix.
Following a Lap 310, Turn 2 accident involving AJ Allmendinger, Noah Gragson and Ty Gibbs, Reddick had another chance to potentially score his first win of the year. Alas, it was not meant to be as ran out of time.
“I just needed to execute on that restart,” Reddick said. “Just didn’t get the launch I needed to and wasn’t on William’s (Bryon) back bumper to take advantage of it in turn one. It’s very frustrating naturally – I think last year kind of the same thing. I didn’t have the best of restarts and finished third.”
A podium finish is typically a great result and experience, especially for a driver and team that has struggled or started a season off on a sour note. When a third place result leaves a bit of a bitter taste for Reddick and company, it speaks volumes about the confidence and strength with this competitive combination.
“Everyone on The Beast Unleashed Toyota Camry TRD did a really good job,” he said. “This car was solidly like a third-to-fifth place car all day long, so to bring it home third is great but obviously, when you are on four and you get position there at the end with that restart, you want to capitalize. So frustrating, for sure.”
Rather than chalking up his podium to misfortune or limited laps for a full, late race charge, Reddick placed blame with himself.
“I just screwed it up honestly. We had a really good The Beast Unleashed Toyota Camry TRD. We had a really good restart – the one before that. We were the first one with four tires. I just didn’t launch with William like I needed to, and I let him get away,” he said.
While Reddick will likely replay the late moments of the race for a while, he has his mindset in the right place in terms of motivation and the hardy crew he battles alongside with each week.
“Unfortunate to be on a tire advantage and not take advantage of it,” Reddick said. “It was a great call by Billy (Scott, crew chief) and everyone on this No. 45 23XI Toyota Camry TRD. I just need to get it done for them. We will keep working on it.”