Tyler Reddick Showcased Versatility at Road America That Could Make Him NASCAR’s Next Big Star, but Still Has a Problem to Overcome

Tyler Reddick got his long-awaited first NASCAR Cup Series victory Sunday at Road America and displayed once again an ability to run well at a variety of tracks that could serve him quite well in the future.

Reddick had never previously won a NASCAR road-course race, but two of his first 10 top-five finishes in his Cup Series career had come on road courses. He ran second at the Charlotte Roval in 2021 and was fifth earlier this season at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin. His 14.8 average finishing position on road courses also ranks seventh among active drivers.

The Richard Childress Racing driver is far from a road-course specialist, however, which could make him a dangerous threat for the rest of the 2022 season and the rest of his burgeoning career.

Tyler Reddick has good career numbers at all types of tracks

Reddick also has an average finish among the top 10 active drivers at intermediate and short tracks. Plus, he nearly won the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway in April. He led 99 of the final 100 laps in that event before Chase Briscoe spun him out in the final turn to allow Kyle Busch to sneak by and steal the checkered flag.

Reddick has a fairly extensive dirt-racing background, so his success at Bristol might not have been a surprise. He was the youngest driver to win the pole award for the World 100 race at the historic dirt track of Eldora Speedway and the youngest to win a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event.

His dirt background translated into success at tracks where the preferred groove was the high lane in the turns, particularly those where drivers can maximize their speed by running inches from the outside wall. In that sense, it is no coincidence he has a pair of top-five finishes at Homestead-Miami Speedway and a runner-up result from this season’s first visit to Darlington Raceway.

Add a second-place finish from the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway, a fourth-place at the half-mile concrete surface at Bristol, and a third-place result at the 1.0-mile Phoenix Raceway, and Reddick has nearly all types of NASCAR tracks covered. The Phoenix success could be particularly handy if he can ride a wave of momentum through the NASCAR Playoffs and qualify for the Championship 4.

The superspeedways of Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway are the only tracks he has consistently struggled at through his first three full-time Cup Series seasons. Reddick has an average finish of 23.9 through 11 races at those two tracks, although his first career NASCAR win came in the 2015 Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona, and he won at both tracks during his back-to-back championship campaigns in 2018-19 in the Xfinity Series.

Reddick will still need more consistency to contend for championships

Tyler Reddick celebrates after winning the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Kwik Trip 250
Tyler Reddick celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Kwik Trip 250 at Road America on July 03, 2022 | Logan Riely/Getty Images

Reddick has shown flashes of brilliance throughout the 2022 season before his win at Road America. He ranks fourth in the series with a 10.0 average starting position, is tied for fifth with five top-fives, and ranks eighth among all drivers with 265 laps led.

However, he ranks 20th with a 17.3 average finishing position thanks to seven finishes of 24th or worse through the first 18 races of the year. That inconsistency had left him 18th on the playoff grid after he ran 18th the week before at Nashville Superspeedway. He was 52 points behind Kevin Harvick for the 16th and final position to qualify for the playoffs. 

That was going to be a difficult deficit to overcome even with nine races left in the regular season. Reddick has consecutive top-10 finishes only once this year.

None of that matters now, however. He has accumulated enough points that he should make the playoffs even if more than 16 drivers win a regular-season race. Now he and the No. 8 RCR team can look forward to the playoff schedule, which could play in his favor.

Reddick has finished inside the top five at least once at seven of the 10 races on the playoff schedule, and he no longer has the burden of zero career Cup Series wins after five previous second-place efforts.

Sometimes drivers go on a run and win several races after finally breaking through for the first time. If Reddick does that, he could suddenly go from winless driver to one of the favorites to compete for the series title as the season winds toward the championship weekend in November at Phoenix.

He has the adaptability to do it; now he just needs the consistency.

Stats courtesy of Racing Reference

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