Now that I’ve had some time to digest the announcement that Tyler Reddick would be joining 23XI Racing for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season, I’ve been able to break into my 5 takeaways from this shocking announcement.
23XI Racing Not Afraid To Get What They Want
Denny Hamlin and 23XI Racing aren’t scared. They know what they want and aren’t afraid to go after it. When Hamlin found out that Tyler Reddick could be available for the 2024 season, he went to Toyota to see their thoughts and if/when they could open up dialogue with Reddick. With their blessing, Hamlin pounced.
“I watched him. I raced against him. I wanted him and I got him,” Hamlin said via the Toyota call. “It made sense to me; you look at his age, his runway that he has, franchise drivers don’t come around that often. And so, if there’s ever one that you feel like you can grab, you go after, you do whatever it takes to make that happen and then you work on the details later.”
They did just that and more.
23XI Racing Has More To Offer Than RCR
This decision isn’t too surprising but the timing and nature of it somewhat is. 23XI Racing now a year in a half to get this seat ready. They didn’t have that luxury when signing Bubba Wallace or even bringing Kurt Busch over to their 2nd car. This time, they have time to figure this out.
RCR though, well they have given Reddick good enough cars to be ahead of both 23XI drivers in the standings right now as well as last year too. They’ve been close to knocking down the doors of victory lane inside those RCR walls.
Austin Dillon won at Texas in 2020. They nearly got both cars into the playoffs that season as Reddick as a rookie in Cup and with 32 races taking place without any practice that year, finished 19th in points. He did make the postseason a year ago despite not having a win too.
This year, he was as fast as he’s ever been in Cup. After scoring 5 runner-up finishes in the 1st 91 races, he finally got to victory lane two weeks ago in Road America. It’s that moment that it was unveiled that Reddick had exercised his option to remain at RCR for the 2023 season.
However, that’s all Reddick would stay.
RCR has 14 driver championships across the top 4 divisions of NASCAR ranging from ARCA to Cup. They’ve won 239 total times in those same 4 divisions including 110 trips to victory lane in NASCAR’s premiere division, the Cup Series.
By comparison, 23XI Racing is in just their 2nd year in the sport. They’ll be in Year 4 by time Reddick joins. So why leave and why do so now?
“The team is very young, but it’s been going in a very positive direction from day one,” Reddick said of his future team. “It’s been obvious. I’m just really excited to get it out there and it’s in front of everyone. 23XI can go to work, myself and RCR can go back to work and continue to be as competitive as possible. But also, I know the future is set in stone and what lays ahead.”
RCR hasn’t won a Cup title since 1994. They have 5 wins since 2014. Reddick has seen what Kevin Harvick has done since he’s left them. With Austin Dillon always going to get the preferential treatment there and 23XI offering a lot plus being on the rise themselves, Reddick chose a fresh slate.
Reddick Was Sought To Be Locked In Before Free Agency Frenzy Of 2023
When they found out Reddick didn’t have a contract in place for 2023, Hamlin and 23XI Racing in general knew they had to move quickly. With a talented cast of drivers that are going to be on the market, Reddick would be among the top of everyone’s list.
Just look at how 23XI Racing says about Reddick and what RCR says about the same departing driver.
“One thing whether you know Tyler (Reddick) or you just watch him, how he holds himself, how he races, he’s a good dude and he’s got the character that meshes well with us,” David Wilson said of Reddick. “We’re honored and flattered that he would consider being a part of our team. And this is a direct reflection on Michael (Jordan), Denny (Hamlin), Steve (Lauletta), the 23XI organization begin well ahead of schedule, and reflects our long-term commitment to their success.”
Hamlin was equally as pleased.
“All we know is we wanted him and we made sure we planted our feet deep in the ground to make sure Tyler (Reddick) had an opportunity with this race team, and we made it happen,” he says.
“Tyler is one of the most sought-after young drivers and has been competitive in everything he’s raced. His work on the track speaks for itself and he will make a fantastic addition to our lineup in 2024. The team has seen a lot of growth since our first race and signing Tyler is a great next step for us to remain competitive for years to come.”
Both sides see his value. One is happy, the other somewhat pissed. That tells you everything you need to know about Reddick’s value.
Plus, get in now because Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Ross Chastain, Joey Logano and Alex Bowman are each notable free agents for the 2024 class. With rides potentially open at Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske, Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing and Trackhouse Racing, Hamlin knew they had to act now.
That’s exactly what they did.
This Could Make Reddick’s Stay With RCR/Chevrolet Rocky
The thing now is, how much does this compromise Reddick’s growth with RCR between now and next season. We have 17 races left in 2021 and Reddick knows he’ll be a part of the playoffs. He has 36 races next season. That’s 53 races left with RCR. However, this is the 1st year with a new car as well. Pieces and cars are still be developed. Teams are behind the scenes trying to find that advantage again. As RCR and Chevrolet does so, how much will Reddick be a part of it?
You know they don’t want Reddick to know too much and take what he knows and use it against them with Toyota. The other side of the coin is, they have a real chance here to win more races and even a potential playoff run with Reddick too. If you don’t develop, they’ll fall behind.
Do you really want to punt on the next 53 races for the 8 car? Wouldn’t it be best to showcase this cars’ ability to attract a new driver in Reddick’s place for 2024?
There’s a balance there and until they can find that balance, it’s sure to be awkward.
Reddick’s Place Not Dependent On Bubba Wallace Or Kurt Busch
23XI and Toyota don’t know whether Reddick will be in a 3rd car for the team or if the organization will stay as a 2 car operation. However, the want to also stress that this move has no affect on the future of Bubba Wallace or Kurt Busch. In fact, this gives Wallace more of a glimpse that he truly is the future of this team as well.
“Bubba was the foundation we built this team on and we have plans for him to be part of the 23XI family for a long time,” 23XI president Steve Lauletta said.
As far as Busch, they said that they have a spot for him for however long the former Cup champion wants to drive.
“We’re going to have Kurt as long as Kurt wants to be a race car driver,” Hamlin said. “We want to have him, so that’s pretty much the end of that. And then once he’s done driving, he’s going to have a nice, cushy office job at 23XI. He’s going to be part of our future well beyond his driving days, so we constantly are in dialogue with him on what his plans are. But ultimately, you never know. Things could change and Kurt could want to race until he’s 48 years old. And, if he does, then we’re going to build a car for him.”