Tyler Reddick and the No. 45 23XI Racing team have battled back from a bad luck-filled opening two races and heading into Sunday's Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Reddick appears to be trending in the right direction on the track.
After kicking off his first season with the team co-owned by NBA legend Michael Jordan and NASCAR Cup Series star Denny Hamlin with two crashes, which resulted in finishes of 34th-or-worse, Reddick has righted the ship with finishes of 15th and third at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway. Reddick, who won three races a season ago with Richard Childress Racing, finds himself on the cusp of the Playoffs cut line as he's knifed his way from 38th in the standings after Auto Club Speedway, to now sitting 20th heading into Atlanta.
Reddick says staying mentally in the game despite having such a rough start to the season is as easy as just looking forward to the next opportunity.
"It wasn't that hard at all, honestly," Reddick said to Racing America. "We just kept focusing on the week ahead. For us, it was pretty straightforward. You just look ahead. The only time it does get frustrating was just how the qualifying metric worked. It was going to put us in a tough spot qualifying to get back out of that hole we had fallen in the week before. But other than that, it wasn't affecting us at all."
While Reddick is obviously confident in his own abilities behind the wheel, as he scored back-to-back NASCAR Xfinity Series championships in 2018 and 2019 in addition to his three NASCAR Cup Series victories, the Corning, California native also feels he has gelled quickly with his new team.
"[We've been gelling] Extremely well," Reddick stated. "Spending a lot of time with the team. How we prepare. Communication, everything has been really good from day one."
Reddick will roll from the 16th position on the starting grid on Sunday in the No. 45 Xfinity Toyota Camry TRD. While the 27-year-old is ready for the things within his control in the 400-mile contest, his one major concern is the new entrance to pit road at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Reddick isn't worried about figuring out how to properly attack the entrance to pit road, which has moved to the entrance of Turn 3 this weekend, instead he's worried about the possibility of crashes between cars blending off of pit road and cars attempting to get into the pits during the race.
"I did it on simulation and everything," Reddick said of the new pit road. "Certainly [we're] trying to avoid one issue, and potentially creating another one with cars blending onto pit road and off of pit road in the exact same place. Hopefully, that doesn't become an issue. Certainly, I think the idea behind it was to avoid a wreck coming to pit road, but now we might still have one, just a different way. Hopefully, it doesn't happen."
If Reddick can steer clear of any potential mayhem in Sunday's race at Atlanta, there's a better-than-not chance that he and the No. 45 23XI Racing team find themselves high up on the final running order. And who knows, maybe Reddick can score his first win under the 23XI banner.
Photo Credit: Jonathan McCoy / TobyChristie.com