After winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship last year, Tyler Reddick will be back to defend his title in 2019. Though after clinching the title with JR Motorsports, he switched teams over the winter and will be driving for Richard Childress Racing.
The California native recently spoke with POPULAR SPEED about his thoughts entering the season.
POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts entering the season?
TYLER REDDICK: I’m really excited to be with a new team. It’s kind of bittersweet to win a championship with JR Motorsports and leave, but yet exciting to have a fresh start with a new group of guys and go for the same thing, but obviously we want to do it better.
We want as consistent as we can, and that’s going to be our goal for this year. We’re just going to try and attack it. it’s about being more consistent and hopefully have the same result, but hopefully a cleaner more dominant path to that point.
PS: What track are you looking forward to the most?
TYLER: For me, the end of the year at Homestead is a highlight. Any of the worn out mile-and-a-halves like that, like Chicagoland, Kansas and Atlanta – they offer lots of grooves on the racing surface. You can move around and find speed, and they also have a lot of tire fall off. So places like those I’m glad to get to.
PS: On the flip side, what is one track that you wish was on the NASCAR schedule that currently isn’t?
TYLER: It’s hard to say. I feel like a lot of the tracks that I enjoy are still on the NASCAR schedule. I love Rockingham; that’s probably one that I wish was back on the schedule. But aside from that, it’s hard for me to say as a lot of the tracks that I like are currently on the schedule.
PS: What are your thoughts on working with your new teammates this season?
TYLER: I’m really excited to have a teammate if you will, a full-time teammate with Kaulig Racing. I think me and Justin (Haley) will be able to share a lot of great information that will more or less be important to look at after practice and what not.
We can both go into the weekend with a little bit differing strategy to go through our work book for practice and hopefully with that, if one of us is struggling we can refer to the other’s notebook and set our cars accordingly and be able to salvage the weekend.
PS: Last year was a big season for you. As we move forward to 2019, what are your final reflections on the championship campaign that was?
TYLER: Obviously it’s really cool to win a championship. It’s honestly even cooler to win a championship the way we did, but we can do it better it than the way we did this past year. That’s obviously going to be our goal. Looking back, we won the championship, came back strong when we needed to, and performed when we had to, but it’s time to have the playoff mindset all year round and be more consistent through the regular season.
PS: If you were in charge of NASCAR for one day, what is one change that you would make to help the sport?
TYLER: It’s probably a hard answer for me to give right out of the blue. Some things I wish were different, but I think they’re trying to do the best they can with what they have in place. We’re trying new things, things like every year as there’s always a bit of a change every year; we’re just trying to make the racing better for the fans and obviously at the end of the day, what’s most important is putting fans in the seats. It’s all about putting a car on the track that the fans enjoy, because at the end of the day, this doesn’t happen without the support from them.
PS: We’ve seen a lot of drivers running different cars and series recently. What is a series/type of car that is on your bucket list to one day try?
TYLER: There’s a lot of things out there that I want to drive one day. Obviously the major bucket list item still is to get to the Cup Series, and to compete for a Monster Energy Cup Championship. But after that, who knows. There’s a lot of things that I want to do in life, and a lot of cars to race across the entire globe. But first and foremost, the primary goal remains to be a Monster Energy Cup Champion.
PS: Growing up, who was your racing hero?
TYLER: I think the biggest one was Steve Kinser. Guys like Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. – just incredible drivers with incredible drives. They just do things in racecars that most people couldn’t possibly do, and those kind of aggressive drivers and great models for the sport are who I looked up to.
PS: Based on your experience to date, what would be your advice to someone looking to get into racing?
TYLER: It’s hard to say because there’s so many different ways you can become a racecar driver, or say not become a driver. But the biggest thing I can say is you have to have fun most importantly. You have to ask yourself how serious you are, how badly you want it because you have to from the day you start to the day your career ends, you have to make a lot of sacrifices along the way to become a racecar driver.
Some people make some sacrifices but not all the sacrifices to win championships and win the amount of races that Dale Earnhardt Sr. won, Jimmie Johnson won – or Richard Petty. So you just have to be prepared to ask yourself how far are you willing to go to be the best there ever was, or be the best that you can be. It’s kind of a inner-battle; a huge mental battle, and something that I think a lot of people forget as much as the cars play a factor in what happens week-in-week-out, the biggest factor in racing is the driver and the mental side is a huge part of that.
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