By Cole Cusumano
Things are finally starting to look up for Tyler Reddick in 2021. With the exception of his runner-up finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the two time NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion hadn’t placed above 22nd through six races. The driver of the No. 8 now has five top-10s over his last seven starts and finds himself in a favorable position, but he’ll be met with his biggest challenge yet in Circuit of the Americas.
Coming off the first stint of racing, Reddick climbed 10 spots to 15th in the standing, 17 points above the cutoff halfway through the regular season. Outspoken in his struggles with road course racing, the 25-year-old’s best finish at the premier level is 12th, and he has an average of 22.7 at ambidextrous turning tracks .
Upon seeing the road course-heavy 2021 schedule, Reddick made it a point of emphasis in the offseason to hone his racecraft. He immediately saw results in the Busch Clash at the Daytona International Speedway road course with a fourth-place finish, but he knows there’s still work to be done.
“The process is never ending and that’s the way anything is in racing, but I’m feeling a lot better about it today than I did a year ago,” Reddick told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “We’ve been working hard trying to put things together and try to grow my knowledge and understanding of these types of events and, looking at how our performances were in the Cup Series last year, I still have a long way to go in learning about road racing, especially in these heavy cars and how to manage the brakes and tires.”
Sure unloading fast off the truck would help, but Reddick is a firm believer his personal execution on track and pit road is what would award the No. 8 team with success at road courses.
“The biggest thing that needed to get changed was the biggest variable in the car, which is me,” Reddick said. “I have to become more consistent, faster, but most importantly, be consistent and keep the car in one piece the entire event, because the driver has so many more opportunities to make poor decisions on a road course with sharper corner angles, longer braking zones, all the things that go into it.”
With momentum on his side and prominent top-10 speed since racing resumed at Martinsville Speedway, Reddick is ready to capitalize in Austin, Texas. The California native was one of a few drivers lucky enough to turn laps at the 3.41-mile track in the offseason.
Having some seat time at the 20-turn facility along with the measures taken in the offseason to propel his road racing program, Reddick is eager to tackle Circuit of the Americas and sees this as a great opportunity to maximize points.
“I think [CotA is] a great course,” Reddick said. “It has very different sections throughout that require different mindsets and approaches. My favorite part about it is, yes, there’s areas where you can get in real trouble on the race track, but for the most part, it’s really wide, there’s a lot of paved surface outside of the track limits and I think that will hopefully keep some of these drivers motivated.
“I’m definitely motivated to be aggressive knowing that if you make a mistake, you’ll slide off the track a little bit, gather it back up and get going again, and your day’s not going to be totally over. I think that’ll present some excitement for us.”
Reddick will be one of eight drivers pulling double duty between the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series at Circuit of the Americas. Where many would tread lightly keeping their head above the 17-point cushion inside the playoffs, he’s pushing the boundaries and striving to face the challenge head on.
Sure, history will tell you Reddick isn’t the best road racer, but that’s obsolete. The No. 8 team has both momentum and confidence one their side, which is huge for a young driver heading into a place like Circuit of the Americas with so many unknowns.