By Cole Cusumano
RICHMOND, Virg. — By the time the lights went out at Richmond Raceway after the Federated Auto Parts 400, Martin Truex Jr. punched his ticket into the Round of 12, while many other playoff drivers were left dejected with an uncertain future going into the cutoff race — one of those being Tyler Reddick.
High on optimism after a gutsy, top-five performance at Daytona International Speedway propelled Reddick to his first playoff berth, expectations were established for the two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion going into one of his best tracks in Darlington Raceway.
Ultimately, the No. 8 team fell flat in their Round of 16 bid, failing to finish on the lead-lap in either race, while placing 18th and 15th respectively. Back-to-back lackluster showings from Reddick put him 14th in the standings and five points out of the Round of 12 going to Bristol Motor Speedway.
“Considering we ran like crap the last two weeks, I honestly feel good because there’s been little, shining moments of hope that we can do it right,” Reddick told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “There’s going to be no room for error.”
While results and stage points are what matter most, the finishes are somewhat misleading for the 25-year-old. Reddick showcased top-10 speed at both Darlington and Richmond, before failing to adapt to the track and competition to close out each event.
The No. 8 team has been rock-solid as well. There haven’t been any problems on pit road or mechanical failures — which is encouraging; it’s just a product of failing to put together a complete race.
“From the drop of the green flag, to Lap 500, we’re just going to have to have it together,” Reddick said. “We can’t run half the race: we have to hit on everything right from the get-go. To score the points we’re going to need, we need to be running up front to make it to the Round of 12.”
If there was going to be a track where Reddick would like to compete in a cutoff race, you’d have to imagine Bristol is up there. Much like Darlington, Thunder Valley suits his driving style, as he’s able to rip the high-line around the fishbowl-shaped oval.
Reddick finished fourth in the most recent event at the Bristol oval, and even placed top-10 in the inaugural dirt race there earlier this year. He also has four top-10s with one win in five Xfinity starts at the .533-mile track.