INDIANAPOLIS — “Winning helps,” Tyler Reddick said of his relationship with current boss Richard Childress. Unlike another driver-owner situation in another racing series, this one isn’t as toxic in the NASCAR garage. Yes, Richard Childress was pissed off to be spurned by Reddick to leave them in 2024.
However, while the 2 sides haven’t talked much since that fateful day in early July, they did a lot more under the shadows of the front stretch while each kissed the famed Yard of Bricks after Reddick held off Chase Elliott, AJ Allmendinger and Ross Chastain on the final 2 restarts to score his 2nd career Cup Series victory in Sunday’s Verizon w00 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Reddick won his first career race on July 3 at Road America. 11 days later, it was announced he was leaving the team and joining 23X Racing for 2024. Childress wasn’t happy. He maintains that he felt like they had a great offer on the table to retain Reddick for his next contract and to find out this way was sickening to him. That’s because RCR and Reddick agreed on the 2023 option and after doing so, were discussing a mutual future together.
In the mean time, Denny Hamlin found out Reddick was a free agent for 2024.
“I watched him. I raced against him. I wanted him and I got him,” Hamlin said via the Toyota call at the time of the announcement. “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.
“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.
“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.”
RCR was pissed by this and put out a wild tweet minutes later.
This isn’t the first time this has happened to Childress. Kevin Harvick, their best driver since Dale Earnhardt left after the 2013 season. It was a deal announced in 2012.
Harvick made Childress aware.
“Well, Kevin and I talked through his whole deal and we made a joint announcement. He won four races that year, and we almost won the championship,” Childress said. “This one didn’t happen like that.”
Childress questioned where Reddick’s respect was. He never gave them a heads up other than on the morning that the announcement was going to be made. Childress felt like Reddick should have come to him sooner so they could have at least put out a mutual release.
Instead, they were blindsided with no shot to have their own spin on it.
“Well, after they made their announcement, I met — I thought about it a lot that night, gave it a lot of thought, and it’s more than just about one person,” Childress said. “It’s about a team. Stayed up most of the night thinking about what I should do, how I wanted to handle it.
“I went in the next day and told the whole team it wasn’t a perfect circumstance the way it went down, but we’re going to give it everything we’ve got this year, and we’ll see where we go next year.”
Up until this win quite honestly, some were wondering if Reddick would just get let go early. RCR was so mad, they could just let him out of his contract a year early and pursue someone else. I mean a search was on for 2024, why not sooner?
It was toxic. Reddick admitted as much on Sunday. He didn’t talk to his boss much until this win. Now, his future is solidified. Childress confirmed Reddick isn’t going anywhere until 2024 now. He will have a seat at RCR in 2023.
“Yeah, Tyler will be in the car at RCR next year,” Childress confirmed.
Reddick also admitted that it was uneasy for a while but this win definitely helps their relationship, especially at Indy.
“Anytime you win at Indy, it’s always great,” Childress said. “This will be the fourth win on the Brickyard. We won one with Ty Dillon with the Xfinity, so we’ve won five times. Anytime you can get a win at Indy, it’s very special.
“I’ll congratulate him. I’ll congratulate the whole team,” Childress said. “The whole team did a great job. I’ll congratulate our sponsors.”
Reddick says that on his side, nothing has really changed from the announcement other than knowing where he’s 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,” he said.
“I just know that we’ve had time to continue to work on our cars and make them better and grow as a team and go the right direction, and now it’s like, all right, we have a hard stop. This is the end of the road that we have together. For me that puts, I think, a good amount of pressure on me to just keep finding more, because we’re always trying to bring the best that we can to the racetrack, but when we know that the end is — it’s not really close, but we know when it’s going to be, we’ve got to take advantage of every single moment possible, and I hope, I feel like at least for me, it’s a good thing. I think it really makes me push hard, and I think it’s making the team push hard. We’re all working really hard together to give it every last ounce that we have out there and win as many races as we can.”