Kyle Busch vs. Tyler Reddick: Who’ll Fare Better With His New Team in 2023?

Richard Childress could never have imagined it a year ago, but the NASCAR Cup Series team owner has traded Tyler Reddick for Kyle Busch. There’s an 11-year difference in ages and an even greater disparity in resumes, contributing to how they’ll be scrutinized throughout next season.

So, Busch vs. Reddick: Who’ll fare better in 2023?

Kyle Busch vs. Tyler Reddick plays out in a new environment in 2023

NASCAR Cup Series drivers Kyle Busch and Tyler Reddick, each headed to a new team in 2023.

Kyle Busch and Tyler Reddick will be new faces in the respective garages of Richard Childress Racing and 23XI Racing in the upcoming season. It will be more than just the surrounding personnel that will be new to them.

Busch, 37, drove Toyotas the past 15 seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing. Now, he’ll be back in a Chevy for the first time since his Hendrick Motorsports days in 2003-07. Reddick, 26, moves in the opposite direction, leaving RCR’s No. 8 Chevy for the Toyotas at 23XI.

That’s an advantage for Busch, particularly when he’s looking for help on superspeedways. Drivers prioritize themselves above all else, with the well-being of their team not to be overlooked. When all else fails, drivers aligned with the same manufacturer will come together to provide a push for drivers of the same model, and it can be crucial on the big tracks.

Speaking of teammates, RCR and 23XI are heavily invested in different ways when it comes to their second cars. Austin Dillion, the owner’s grandson, drives the No. 3 Chevy at RCR, so there will always be a suspicion that the organization might be throwing more resources his way. On the other hand, 23XI is obligated to some extent to prioritize Bubba Wallace because of sponsorship money. It’s not as though Reddick will be neglected, but he doesn’t become the 23XI’s alpha driver by default.

The case for or against Tyler Reddick and 23XI Racing

Tyler Reddick made significant strides in his third full season in the NASCAR Cup Series by scoring the first three victories of his career. The first two were at Road America and the Indianapolis road course. If you were looking to find the least successful combination of the 2022 NASCAR season, “Toyota” and “road courses” would be near or at the top of the list, which doesn’t bode well.

Reddick is leaving one of the teams that did reasonably well at figuring out the Next Gen car in its first season to join another that fared respectably. Combined, Reddick and Austin Dillon went from no victories and 11 top-five finishes in 2021 to four wins and 15 top-five showings this season. Had Kurt Busch driven a full season, he and Bubba Wallace would have shown similar gains at 23XI.

One thing Reddick will have going for him in 2023 is that he’s no longer a lame duck. Reddick blindsided Richard Childress in midseason by striking a deal with 23XI that was supposed to start in 2024. The tension was apparent after the announcement, and it could have grown exponentially in 2023 had he not been granted his release by the owner.

The case for or against Kyle Busch and Richard Childress Racing

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Fourteen finishes outside the top 10 in a 16-race stretch late in the season would raise normally raise concerns, but it’s important to know the back story. Kyle Busch went through most of the season trying to hammer out a new contract with Joe Gibbs Racing as both sides knew Mars, Inc., was leaving as the No. 18 Toyota’s primary sponsor.

Busch and RCR announced their deal on Sept. 13, and his next two races ended with a blown engine and a wreck, taking him out of the playoffs. After that, though, Busch finished in the top 10 in three of six races, including third place on the Roval and in Las Vegas.

We’re not sure whether Busch aligning with Richard Childress, with whom he had famously feuded years earlier, suggests Busch lacked better options or if it was a vote of confidence for RCR, but the driver is going to be motivated in 2023.

Kyle Busch vs. Tyler Reddick is lopsided in career victories – 60 to 3 – but they were relatively even in overall performance last season. Still, Busch has all that experience across 18 full seasons and something to prove.

If a final playoff spot or advancement to the semifinals comes down to Kyle Bush vs. Tyler Reddick, go with Busch until Reddick makes a convincing case otherwise.

Got a question or observation about racing? Sportscasting’s John Moriello does a mailbag column each Friday. Write to him at [email protected]