Chaotic Texas Shakes Up Cup Playoffs
Sep 26, 2022
Tyler Reddick and Richard Childress have been through it together this summer.
Reddick had positioned himself as the building block for the next great Richard Childress Racing dynasty and started to validate that distinction over the spring with near victories at Phoenix, Bristol Dirt and Fontana.
Then came their breakthrough victory together at Road America on July 4.
Finally, it looked as though Reddick was going to lead Richard Childress back to the promised land but that was around the time that the 26-year-old signed a deal to drive with 23XI Racing starting in 2024. The announcement caught Childress off guard and there was some tension within Welcome for several weeks.
But Reddick pushed teammate Austin Dillon to the win at Daytona last month, placing both cars into the playoffs and cementing the two-time champion as a model teammate and friend, and a piece to build around for at least two playoff runs in 2022 and 2023.
Next came the bombshell decision from Kyle Busch that he would move over to Richard Childress Racing next season, and that RC intended to give the two-time Cup Series champion the No. 8 team currently built around Reddick.
It was a decision to build around their driver of the next decade and not the one from the past half-decade. Anytime the topic of Reddick comes up, Childress respectfully but quickly changes the topic, and says he will honor their contract for next season.
Meanwhile, all Reddick has done since his announcement is win two races for Childress while contending for victories virtually every week. In fact, had Reddick not pushed Dillon to the win at Daytona, he very well could have still been in championship contention due to the five bonus points winning that race would have paid him.
After all, Reddick was only eliminated by two points after the Bristol Night Race.
As it is, Reddick is currently scheduled to drive a third car for Richard Childress Racing next season, but the organization hasn’t even confirmed its number, crew members or where the ownership charter would come from.
There is some though in the industry that Reddick could be doomed to drive a bonafide R&D car next season.
And yet, the first person to reach victory lane on Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway was Childress -- giving his driver of almost four years a massive congratulatory handshake.
So, what’s the dynamic like these days between Childress and Reddick?
"We just got to move forward," Childress said. "We talked about winning races, racing for the championship. I really think this team is a championship-caliber team. They're going to win more races before the year's over."
That’s pretty much all Childress ever offers on the topic.
Reddick has raced with Burnett and their over-the-wall crew since their 2019 Xfinity Series championship campaign. They’re virtually family and one that Reddick relishes winning with this close to their separation.
"My decision to stay or go, at the end of the day, no regrets," Reddick said. "Unfortunately, the decision that was made, my choice to move on had nothing really to do with my team. It was just circumstances with myself and RCR.
"I love my team. I’ve never been as close as I am as I have been with this group as anyone else. It’s a type of bond. The friendship that we have will outlive our tenure together as a driver and as a team."
Reddick says they will still spend the occasional holidays together, even after Reddick leaves for 23XI. Reddick hoped he could get one more championship run with them, but Childress has to build for his future with Busch.
And it's a decision Reddick says he understands.
"They’re going to have a lot of fun," Reddick said of Burnett, their crew and Busch. "They’re getting a really good driver. They’re getting a really, really good driver after me. They’re going to continue to have that success and have that strong drive behind the driver’s seat.
"I didn’t know if we were going to stay together our whole lives or how it was going to go, but if for whatever reason, as it’s turned out, that I would be going the other way, I wanted nothing more than for them to have, like, the next best driver that there is in the field.
"That's Kyle Busch and for these guys, who I really care about, I'm really glad they're going to have him."
For now, Reddick and Burnett have six more races together, and that’s six more chances to win together.
And then, even if it’s a lame duck season, Reddick plans on giving Childress everything he’s got in that final season because that’s his part of the contract they signed years ago.
"I mean, I like winning," Reddick said. "I plan on showing up to every track, trying to win the race. Nothing is going to change. We’re going to try to do the same thing every week. It will be a new challenge with different people. That will be fine. I look forward to it.
"It will be a new challenge. I got to accept it, embrace it (and) it will be fun."