Pa Bob Pokras
Posted by FOX Sports NASCAR

BRISTOL, TN – Tyler Reddick chose a driver introduction song at Bristol Motor Speedway to match the drama surrounding him.

When he came out to the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” it was a subtle confirmation of the twists and turns his off-track season has been taking.

Reddick had one of the most disappointing weeks of 2022, losing his 2023 team and losing his chances of a 2022 championship in five days.

The 26-year-old driver announced in July that he was leaving Richard Childress Racing after the 2023 season. Childress, the team’s owner, was not happy that Redick told him of his decision just an hour before it was announced.

The suspended Childress drew applause Tuesday when he announced Reddick’s team would be used by Kyle Busch next year, as the two-time Bowl champion was hired to replace Reddick a year before Reddick was even ready to leave.

Childress has promised to get a charter and run a third car for Reddick, with more details coming later this month.

But for Redick, it hurt. For the last two months, he has only talked about working as much as possible with a team that has worked well with him until the end of 2023.

He seemed to be doing that Saturday in Bristol before he was involved in an accident that left his car so badly damaged that it needed a major pit road repair. He ultimately failed to advance to the next round of the playoffs by two spots.

“I saw the crash,” said Reddick, who had a flat tire and a crash a week earlier at Kansas. “I checked. I just got run over… We had two bad races – bad finishes.

“We had two really good race cars [the past two races] and we didn’t make any money on it, and that was enough to let it go.”

Reddick knew he wasn’t in control of his own destiny in the final stage because he was 30 laps behind and needed others to drop out to get the points he needed to advance.

“It feels terrible,” he said. “It’s out of your control. . . . Hoping for someone else’s misfortune is no way to race properly.”

Redick now has to go through the next month or so knowing that his future is somewhat out of his control.

“He said he has a plan and details for me, so we’ll just see what those are when it’s time to talk,” Reddick said of Childress.

Childress said hiring Bush to replace Reddick made the crew decision easier because it would have been detrimental to have one crew the first year and then another in subsequent years.

He informed Reddick of the crew change for next year, probably not ironically, about an hour before Bush’s hiring was announced.

“It wasn’t stressful,” Reddick said. “He was just filling me up [in on] what was happening. I understand because I’m moving on. Everything is fine.”

Redick refused to engage in a media war of words with his car owner.

“I looked at it from a business perspective, and I think they’re approaching it with Kyle coming in and being with Team 8. They’re looking at the future and looking at what’s going to be best for them in the long term.” Redick said.

“I’m sure people might think it’s personal, but I don’t look at it that way.”

Richard Childress on why he didn’t let Reddick leave sooner

Why not just make a deal for Tyler Redick to leave a year early instead of working on getting a third charter? Richard Childress explains.

Working with a new team next year won’t be anything new for Redick. He has competed for seven different organizations in the Xfinity Series (three on a full-time or part-time basis and four in select races only).

What he doesn’t want is for 2023 to become a kind of throwaway year.

“It has to work out well … because I work really hard and I really want it,” Redick said.

Few doubt that Redick won’t continue the tough race. That’s the only way he knows how to race. He is a competitor at heart.

“He’s very good at setting things up and just going to work,” current teammate Austin Dillon said. “You can’t deny Tyler Redick’s speed every weekend.”

Obviously, it would have been easier for everyone involved if Reddick could have landed 23XI Racing a year earlier. That could happen if Kurt Busch doesn’t return from a concussion that has kept him out for the past two months.

Denny Hamlin, co-owner of 23XI Racing, said he would not push Busch to make a decision. He has no doubt that wherever Reddick lands, it will be a tough race.

“One thing we’ve seen over the last couple of months is that Tyler Reddick continues to be a professional,” Hamlin said. “He gave 110 percent to his team. . . . No matter what circumstances he faces, I’m sure he’ll maintain that level of professionalism and take it easy.”

His rivals are certainly aware of his situation and wonder where Redick’s commitment will be for the rest of the season. A few weeks ago at Daytona, he showed that he is still a committed RCR driver when he helped Dillon to victory and into the playoffs.

“He has to make his own decisions about what to do, but I’m sure it’s a bit embarrassing for him,” said former Joey Logano Cup champion. “Who knows? I guess it will be awkward next year as well.”

That’s exactly the question. Who knows? Redick pointed out that he did not.

“It’s not in my hands,” said Redick. “As I’ve told everyone, I plan to complete what I agreed to do at RCR.

“I want to see it through, whether it’s car 8 or whatever.”

Thinking aloud

There was a lot of chatter in the NASCAR Cup Series garage wondering if the tires would hold up to the rigors of Bristol. During some of the manufacturer’s testing, the teams saw that the Bristol circuit posed unique challenges.

It was frustrating to watch on Saturday night as several drivers had tire problems.

Matching the tire to the track and to the car is always a challenge for Goodyear, whether it’s a new car or a new racing surface.

Just as a racing team doesn’t always make the right shot, the same goes for Goodyear. However, when it’s a three-race playoff round, the focus and scrutiny is heightened.

Goodyear and NASCAR have shown that they will respond and work to find the best tire for the next race. The good thing about Bristol is that they have a few months to sort this out as next year’s spring race will be on dirt which will cover the concrete surface.

Social attention

Statistics of the day

Chris Buescher’s 222 starts between wins is second all-time, behind only Bill Elliott’s 226 starts between wins from 1994-2001.

They said it

“It’s my favorite racecourse – I’m not saying that because I’m sitting here in Bristol. I’ve gotten in trouble at a lot of different racetracks for saying that on their advance stages and getting yelled at, but it’s true.” — Chris Buescher

Bob Pokras covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has covered motorsports for decades, including the last 30 Daytona 500s, and has worked for ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @dashand sign up for FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pokras.

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