Anytime you have a driver starting off a new tenure with a big team, it creates a lot of buzz and attention. Tyler Reddick‘s debut with JR Motorsports was no different at Daytona International Speedway in February – but he kicked it up a notch with a visit to victory lane.
Since then, though, things haven’t gone as smooth as planned. Reddick is currently sitting second in the NASCAR XFINITY Series standings, but hasn’t finished as well as he feels he should have, calling it a “train wreck” from his perspective.
He ran in the top-five at Atlanta Motor Speedway, until a flat tire in the late stages – resulting in a 19th-place finish. He feels they should’ve gotten another top-five at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but mistakes on pit road relegated him back to eighth at the checkered flag. The ISM Raceway weekend did not go as planned, wrecking in qualifying which forced the team to pull out the backup car; they fought back for a 10th-place finish.
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes this first couple of races,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “Thank goodness we have the win to use when the time comes because I’m certainly digging a hole for myself. But I like at the points, and we’re second, so I guess we’re not doing that horrible. But, it feels like I am dropping the ball a lot and I’m making mistakes.
“We have the win to fall back on, and I’m new to them, they’re new to me, and we’re just trying to figure each other out as best we can as quick as we can, and this is just a part of learning each other and being a new team. So we’ll figure it out soon, and it’s going to start to show once we get everything together.”
The adjustment period has also been about getting to know his JR Motorsports teammates with Michael Annett, Justin Allgaier, and Elliott Sadler. For Reddick, it’s a unique situation as both teams previously, he only had a single driver to lean on each weekend. Now with the expansion, he says it’s helped a lot.
“Elliott Sadler is obviously the veteran of the group, and a lot of these tracks have a lot of unique characteristics to them,” he said. “You can really go to Elliott, and talk to him about things that some of the other guys understand, but Elliott has been racing almost as long as I’ve been alive, so he has a really good understanding for it,” he said. “Then I go to Justin for a lot of small tips and stuff, and get an opinion which is closer to what mine would be in where I came from. Then Michael – he’s always trying to get better, and he’s working through a lot of stuff with his team to find speed, and they came on pretty strong at the end of the year. As I said, the year hasn’t started off very well for them, but they’re not far off from finding what they need.
“It’s just nice to have three teammates to talk to and discuss things with. With your teammates, you don’t feel bad like you’re giving away speed secrets, so it’s nice to have that many people to talk to and have a huge notebook for each race track.”
This past Saturday at Auto Club Speedway indeed began to show signs of that as he put together a solid race from start to finish, scoring a seventh-place finish. However, both he and the team recognize that there’s room to grow and things that they can be doing better.
Thankfully, they don’t have to worry about the struggles much as a result of that win at Daytona locking them into the playoffs.
“It just took a lot of pressure off everybody,” he said of the victory. “We want to be doing good, but we can kind of pull of the reigns back a little bit. There’s no need to push the issue with everything too crazy at these race tracks coming up pretty much until the playoffs start. We can just work on some stuff, work out some things that we normally wouldn’t be able to work on at the track for the rest of our guys that are still trying to make sure they have a spot in the playoffs.”
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