Tyler Reddick was a driver that most circled as a breakout star to the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. So far, he’s proving us right. Reddick, led a race-high 90 of 200 laps in Fontana including sweeping both stages in the process. If not for a late race tire that went down, he likely was heading towards at the very least a top three result.
Last week in Vegas, he spun early but rebounded to finish seventh in his No. 8 Chevrolet. On Sunday, he was there all day. Reddick, qualified 12th but was fourth and sixth respectively in the two stages. The Richard Childress Racing driver was third on the second to last restart. He would get by Kevin Harvick for second and set his sights on Chase Briscoe for the win.
“There was no way they were going to catch me,” Briscoe said on his thoughts when the caution with nine laps remaining came out for Chase Elliott. “The caution comes out. I’m glad that that’s the way it was because you definitely had to go earn it.
“That last restart, it could have went multiple different ways. This place is crazy on restarts with the dogleg and everything else. There’s a lot of unknown variables. I have a new spotter this year, he did an incredible job on those restarts to be aggressive, ultimately win us the race.”
Briscoe, lined up next to Reddick. Ross Chastain was third behind. None of the three had ever won a Cup race before and all had their own unique journey’s to a Cup ride. So, you knew they’d all have to go for it with a trophy dangling on the end of the string with three laps left.
“I thought on that last two restarts, I feel like that was probably the worst-case scenario for me,” Briscoe said. “Ross and Tyler are two of the most aggressive guys on restarts. Fourth you had Kevin (Harvick), who obviously has been a year, year and a half since he won, so you know he’s hungry, too.
“I knew that as long as I drove in there deeper than everybody else, I probably was going to be okay. Those two other guys, they were giving everything they had, too.”
Reddick, thought he had a great launch considering all things going right there into the first corner though.
“I know about how deep I could drive it in turn one all day,” he said. “I thought I got pretty good heat in the tires.”
Briscoe also drove it in hard while Chastain left the two room.
“Thankfully Ross left me a lane,” Briscoe said. “He didn’t have to do that. I thought I was going to plug the fence and be done. But I was committed at that point. I was kind of blown away that it stuck as well as it did and then that he even left me a lane because he was all but clear.
“I was committed at that point. If I lifted, I was going to get beat because then Ross has the lead. There is no way I was going to be able to pass him back.
“I thought there was no way that I wasn’t going to hit the fence. Same thing at Darlington when I beat Kyle. I felt like God was with me because there’s no way, when I won Darlington, when I hit the fence, somehow gained speed, then today.
“There was no way I wasn’t going to knock the wall down at the angle I was at. I was up in the marbles. Somehow it stuck. I was able to clear him.”
For Reddick, he said he felt like he maybe overdrove that first turn a bit in which that plus Chastain leaving them room plus Harvick struggling on restart was the perfect storm for Briscoe to notch his first career Cup victory.
“I still overstepped it,” Reddick said. “I couldn’t have drove it any deeper than I did. I still thought I was going to get him in the fence. Chase was able to drive it off in there, clear, high, take the lead.”
“Restarts weren’t 100% our strong point,” Harvick noted. “We had a bit of a brake shake issue that kept pulling the car to the right under braking so I couldn’t get into corners like I wanted to.
So, Briscoe bested Chastain by .753-seconds where Reddick finished third. It was his second straight top 10 heading back east.
“It was a lot of fun,” Reddick continued. “Great to claw back from the hiccup we had earlier in the race. Everyone on this team did a really good job all day. One little miscue that took us from second to 12th. My pit crew did an amazing job, had a good restart at the end to put ourselves in position.
“It was a fun day. Nice way to recover from a mistake that late in the race, be battling for the win. Great day. We’ll see what else we can learn from this and see what lies ahead.”