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NASCAR Crash Course: The Stone Pillow Was The Best Medicine For Tyler Reddick, Richard Childress Racing

NASCAR Crash Course: The Stone Pillow Was The Best Medicine For Tyler Reddick, Richard Childress Racing

One way to get over a breakup is to bury yourself in your work. Tyler Reddick used that focus to win one of NASCAR’s crown jewels, a win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday, which he hopes is the first step to healing an open wound with Richard Childress Racing.

Reddick survived a Mario Kart-esque end to this Indy road course, where every turn 1 restart felt like full-speed, pinball-style drivers smacking each other to slow down and get through the corner. When Austin forced Dillon overtime by getting stuck in the gravel, Reddick’s rival Ross Chastain had another idea about how to deal with the crazy restarts: blasting all the way past Turn 1.

“I thought I was following the rule,” Chastain said of choosing an approach road. “With three cars to my right, and everyone bumping into each other, and I turned in, I couldn’t see how I could make it. I’d be in the grass.”

NASCAR thought otherwise and assessed a 30-second penalty for missing the corner that left Reddick racing for the win a moot point. The No. 8 car got ahead anyway, the third-year driver led a race-high 38 laps while taking a second consecutive Cup Series win on a road course.

This one felt very different from the first, less than three weeks after 23XI Racing announced they had signed Reddick for 2024. A total of 18 months as a crippled duck is a long time to be part of RCR; 18 days is a short time to absorb that wound. Check out some of the first things both driver and owner said after the race.

“I’m very happy with it and hopefully I’ll race here again next year,” said Reddick. “Well, that should be me, I guess. I should race here next year.”

Should be? We are talking about a championship candidate who would have a contract with this team until 2023.

“I told the whole team it wasn’t a perfect circumstance the way it went,” Richard Childress said of the impending divorce. “But we’re going to give everything we have this year, and we’ll see where we go next year.”

After being pushed, Childress confirmed that Reddick would remain in the 8 until next year. But things felt far from settled for an organization that should be on the rise, racking up multiple single-driver wins for the first time since 2013.

The problem is that, like last time (Kevin Harvick), they are achieving it with a driver choosing to leave the team rather than build on a foundation that took years to create.

“The biggest thing we can do,” said Reddick’s crew chief Randall Burnett, “is go out and do what we did today and that is put fast cars under Tyler and try to win races and show everyone what this team is made of.” so we can try to figure out what we need to do to fill that void.”

Traffic report

Green: NASCAR rookies — Austin Cindric, winner of the Daytona 500, drove his best race since February, finishing best in class against Reddick in second. But what about Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland? Both freshmen scored the best of their career in the top-5 (third and fourth, respectively), the best a trio of rookies have achieved in a cup race since Pocono in 1994.

Yellow: Chris Buescher — Buescher, a contender to win Sonoma Raceway last month, set on fire at the end of the first stage after contacting Bubba Wallace. Two laps down, it took almost the entire race to get back to the lead. Somehow the number 17 team sailed through the final laps of carnage and climbed from 29th all the way to 10th place at the end of the race.

Red: Martin Truex Jr. — A driver with four career wins on road courses was invisible on Sunday, posting his third consecutive finish outside the top 10 on this track type (21st). Fourth in the standings, Truex will remain in the playoff bubble and could be eliminated if a scoreless driver breaks under him in the last four regular season races.

Speeding: Turn 1 — On a track where passing proved difficult, the entire field around Turn 1 decided to make a make-or-break attempt on restarts. Sometimes the field would spread out six wide because it seemed like going into the corner was like closing your eyes and hoping for the best.

That melee, which caused overtime, was the most egregious. Half a dozen cars scattered around the track leading to wild swings in the driving order. Chase Elliott was the biggest loser in that one, dropping from a possible win to 16th. Ryan Blaney, whose tap sent Elliott around, ended up there with him after NASCAR Overtime, dropping to a disappointing 26th.

“That’s all people do at the end of these things,” said a frustrated Blaney. “Just dive in and bust…they jumped the curb and just swept you away. I just didn’t have a chance…I’m pissed about it and I have a damn right to be.”

While NASCAR considers returning to the Indy oval in 2024, it could be a smart move to adjust this corner in 2023. Could the drivers have done something better to prepare for it?

“Maybe a little football,” Cindric joked after the race. “That’s about it.”

Oops!

Ty Dillon has had a rough month, crashing in three of the last four races and finding that his services are no longer needed at Petty GMS Motorsports after this season. This wreck was easily the worst, circumstances beyond his control when Kyle Larson lost his brakes and found himself bumping into Dillon’s No. 42 going into Turn 1.

“It’s an impact I’ve never felt before in my life,” Dillon said afterwards, finishing 34th. “That was a big… you can’t help it. Just a series of bad luck that we’ve had this year, and we can’t shake it.”

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