Tyler Reddick‘s name in recent headlines might be dominated by his impending departure from Richard Childress Racing after the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season for 23XI Racing, but until that happens, he’s still going to pursue a championship in the #8. A dominating performance in Sunday’s Verizon 200 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway became a chaotic run to the finish as he had to hold off the likes of road course ace Austin Cindric, COTA winner Ross Chastain, and defending Indy winner A.J. Allmendinger. Despite the pressure, he kept strong to win his second Cup race.
Coupled with his Road America win early in July, Reddick is the seventh driver to have his first two Cup victories come on road courses after Dan Gurney, Ray Elder, Tim Richmond, Juan Pablo Montoya, Marcos Ambrose, and Allmendinger. Allmendinger had been seeking to sweep the weekend after winning the Xfinity Series race on Saturday.
The first two stages were caution free save for the breaks, a stark juxtaposition to the single-car spins, off-track excursions, mechanical issues, Chris Buescher‘s car catching fire on pit road, an Air Force promotional hauler getting stuck in a tunnel exit, and a tent flying onto the track in turn one as Cody Ware drove by.
Things changed drastically in the third segment when Kyle Larson lost his brakes entering turn one and hit the kerb, causing him to go airbourne and slam into Ty Dillon. On a restart, Chase Elliott duelled with Reddick before he spun in the first corner while Reddick’s team-mate Austin Dillon got stuck in the gravel to force overtime.
Reddick and Allmendinger comprised the front row to begin the two-lap dash, and the former received a strong push from Ryan Blaney (who spun two turns later) to pull ahead. With so many cars bunching up in the sharp right turn one, Chastain elected to bypass it completely by driving forwards into the run-off area before re-joining the race behind the leaders, an egregious track cutting violation that resulted in a thirty-second time penalty. Nevertheless, as the penalty was applied upon the race’s conclusion, Chastain continued to race as if he was vying for the win.
“It didn’t seem like real life,” Reddick commented on Chastain’s move. “I was like, what? I was waiting to see what was going to happen with that situation because I think I had (spotter) Jim Pohlman say, ‘Hey, he’s probably going to get penalised.’ Well, dammit, Jim, like—Star Trek reference right there—’he’s going to get penalised’ isn’t good enough. I need to know. I didn’t know for sure if he was or wasn’t.”
Allmendinger overshot a corner to take himself out of contention and left Reddick battling with Cindric and Chastain (sort of), and he successfully held them off for the win.
“I’ve watched a lot of racing at this venue as a kid growing up,” said Reddick. “A lot of really incredible drivers have won at this race track, and it’s really, really cool to be a part of the group of drivers that have won here. I’m really happy about it, and hopefully I’ll be racing here again next year—well, I should be, I guess, I should be racing here next year. But hopefully winning again next year, and I’m excited to race here in some other things, too. I’d love to do that.”
Despite knowing his tenure with RCR has a time limit, Reddick explained “nothing had really changed from the announcement other than knowing where I’m going to be in the next year and a half. My commitment level, if anything, probably is a little bit higher, but I mean, we’re not talking like it’s a significant amount higher.”
“I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a matter of proving things, it’s a matter of this is the time we have left. Like I kind of said earlier, we’ve been working hard to built to being a race-winning team. Whether that’s at short tracks, mile-and-a-halfs, road courses, whatever it may be, it seems like road courses have come our way faster than other places.
“For me, I just look at the time we have left, and I know I always give it my all, but certainly knowing that this is when the end of the road is going to be, I need to do everything I can to win as many races as possible for this group because I wouldn’t be the road course racer I am today if it wasn’t for RCR, if it wasn’t for the people on my team, if it wasn’t for Chevrolet.”
“I owe it to them. I owe it to my team. I owe it to the people that really have helped me to get that done and go out there and deliver for them.”
RCR had been blindsided by Reddick’s move to 23XI, commenting in a press release “the timing of the announcement could not have been worse.” Speaking with NBC after the race, owner Richard Childress explained the signing was vastly different from his joint announcement with Kevin Harvick in 2012 to join Stewart-Haas Racing two years later. In spite of any awkward feelings, Reddick hoped to re-assure Childress of his commitment to the team until his contract expires after 2023.
“We got to talk before the announcement was made, but we haven’t really spoke much until today since the announcement was made,” Reddick explained. “Thankfully, to win smooths some things over, I think.
“I’ve told him that as long as I’m racing here, I’m going to do everything I can to win races for this team, and I would love to win a championship or two with this team. I’m going to be more committed. I feel like the older I get, you smarter you get, the more you find ways to work really hard, and I’m just going to work as hard as I can for this team because there’s a lot of great people on this team, a lot of great people at ECR (Engines) and a lot of great people not just on my car but at the shop at RCR that work really, really hard on these cars, and they’ve helped me come so far as a driver. I’m just going to give them everything I’ve got.”
Due to the penalty, Chastain was relegated from second to twenty-seventh. Austin Dillon was caught doing the same and dropped to thirtieth.
“Right in the middle of I think it’s the apex of turn three, I was kind of cornering, and I heard Derek (Kneeland, spotter) come on the radio in my ears like, ‘Don’t mind the #1 (Chastain), he’s doing whatever he is,” Reddick recalled. “Probably said some other not-so-nice words, but heat of the moment, right?
“I look over, I’m like, ‘Oh, no’. I could say other words, but ‘Oh no, there’s Ross, what do I do?’ He got to my right rear really nice, and as much as I wanted to go through chicane side-by-side with him, I’m like, ‘If I screw up and fly my right-side tyres over the inside kerb, I could get a penalty.’ I don’t know if I’m racing him, I don’t know if I’m not, so it put me in an interesting spot. I wanted to pass him, but I also didn’t want to penalise myself trying to get around him. It was just kind of a weird situation.”
Chastain clarified he was “just trying not to be in the corners there in turn one. I thought we were four wide, and couldn’t go any farther right, and decided to take the NASCAR access lane out there.
“I took it in practice on exit, overshooting turn one, and you know where they’re at, and in twelve you have to go around the loop there, and there is around the pole. Just wanted to not get hit, and merged back on where I merged.”
Rookies and Ford drivers Cindric, Harrison Burton, and Todd Gilliland finished second through fourth with Burton and Gilliland scoring their maiden Cup top fives. Their runs marked the second time a rookie class had three top-five finishers in a race after the 1994 Miller Genuine Draft 500 at Pocono with Burton’s uncle Ward Burton, Joe Nemechek, and Burton’s father Jeff Burton.
Cindric, who has six Xfinity and Truck Series road course wins to his name, remarked, “That was nuts. Oh my gosh, I hope the race fans enjoyed that. Obviously, those green-white-checkereds, it’s just caution out the window and everyone has fenders and bumpers to use. A lot to take in, a lot to handle. I’m glad we survived it all.”
“We honestly had a bad execution day to start the race,” said Burton. He scored his first career top ten at Atlanta three races prior. “We tried to stay out for stage points and more people stayed out than we thought and got buried there, and then I made a mistake and got into (Cole) Custer. I was spun out at one point. I was all over the place. It was a tough day for me and then got some new tyres there before the last caution and started picking guys off and just got in a good place for those restarts. That was the big thing was being on the inside for those restarts and kind of plugging the middle and missing the chaos.”
“I thought we might get some distance on at least the #38 (Gilliland), but wherever he goes I go with him or vice versa. Every race we’re on each other’s bumper, so hopefully we both just start running top five every week and we’ll be running up there together.”
Gilliland, twenty-eighth in points for the smaller Front Row Motorsports, described his rookie campaign as “really tough. The Cup Series is hard. I’ve learned that. It’s easy to give up and that’s one thing, too. You have confidence when you come to the Cup Series, but you get beat down quick. Even just having a ninth-place qualifying effort and just to run up front the first stage. We stayed out and got stage points and kind of had to come from the back again, but that’s what me and my crew chief was talking about. That’s really our best weekend start to finish by far, so hopefully that’s just something to build on. For me, that’s a lot of confidence. Road course racing is tough, too. I’ve always loved it, but it hasn’t really loved me so much this year, especially the first time here at Indianapolis. That’s really cool.”
Bubba Wallace rounded out the top five for his best finish on a road course by a wide margin; his previous best was thirteenth in the 2021 Indianapolis event while mechanical issues plagued his three road course runs in 2022 and he never placed higher than thirty-fifth at Road America.
“I closed my eyes on the last [restart] and I picked off four or five guys and the next thing you know, we were sixth,” he stated. “It just so happened to work out. I’m getting better slowly and slowly at these things. I want to be the best at these things, and I’ve got a lot of work to do. I’m frustrated with myself, but happy with the luck finally changing around. It seems like we’ve been beat down so much over this year. We’ve got four races to go to continue to climb. I’m proud of this team.”
After finishing seventh, Allmendinger got out of his car and rested against the pit wall due to overheating from a broken cooling system. He was treated at the infield medical centre before being released. Wife Tara later posted on social media he was “in good spirits and will be ok!”
Formula One driver Daniil Kvyat struggled with suspension issues and finished thirty-sixth in his NASCAR début. Team-mate Loris Hezemans exited the race ten laps prior with a drivetrain failure.
|1||1||8||Tyler Reddick||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||86||Running|
|2||2||2||Austin Cindric||Team Penske||Ford||86||Running|
|3||13||21||Harrison Burton||Wood Brothers Racing||Ford||86||Running|
|4||9||38||Todd Gilliland||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||86||Running|
|5||19||23||Bubba Wallace||23XI Racing||Toyota||86||Running|
|6||5||22||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford||86||Running|
|7||20||16||A.J. Allmendinger||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||86||Running|
|8||7||34||Michael McDowell||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||86||Running|
|9||24||41||Cole Custer||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||86||Running|
|10||16||17||Chris Buescher||RFK Racing||Ford||86||Running|
|11||10||18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||86||Running|
|12||4||20||Christopher Bell||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||86||Running|
|13||38||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet||86||Running|
|14||15||11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||86||Running|
|15||35||43||Erik Jones||Petty GMS Motorsports||Chevrolet||86||Running|
|16||8||9||Chase Elliott||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||86||Running|
|17||26||45||Ty Gibbs*||23XI Racing||Toyota||86||Running|
|18||31||7||Corey LaJoie||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet||86||Running|
|19||17||31||Justin Haley||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||86||Running|
|20||12||6||Brad Keselowski||RFK Racing||Ford||86||Running|
|21||25||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||86||Running|
|22||32||77||Josh Bilicki*||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet||86||Running|
|23||3||14||Chase Briscoe||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||86||Running|
|24||33||51||Cody Ware||Rick Ware Racing||Ford||86||Running|
|25||37||78||Josh Williams*||Live Fast Motorsports||Ford||86||Running|
|26||6||12||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske||Ford||86||Running|
|27||21||1||Ross Chastain||Trackhouse Racing Team||Chevrolet||86||Running|
|28||11||99||Daniel Suárez||Trackhouse Racing Team||Chevrolet||86||Running|
|29||27||15||Joey Hand||Rick Ware Racing||Ford||85||Running|
|30||29||3||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||85||Running|
|31||23||24||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||79||Accident|
|32||28||48||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||65||DVP|
|33||18||4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||64||Accident|
|34||30||42||Ty Dillon||Petty GMS Motorsports||Chevrolet||60||Accident|
|35||22||5||Kyle Larson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||57||Accident|
|36||36||26||Daniil Kvyat||Team Hezeberg||Toyota||43||Suspension|
|37||34||27||Loris Hezemans*||Team Hezeberg||Ford||34||Drivetrain|
|38||14||10||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||24||Accident|
* – Ineligible for points