Can Reddick truly compete for a championship with RCR, will anyone break that playoff bubble, that and more

Can Tyler Reddick Win A Championship With RCR?

Tyler Reddick is coming off of a successful month in July. As the calendar turns to a new month on Monday, can Reddick keep this recent success going?

The current Richard Childress Racing driver kick started July off with earning his 1st career NASCAR Cup Series victory back on July 3 at Road America. A little more than a week later, he was announcing a new deal for 2024 as he’d drive for 23XI Racing.

That moment pissed Richard Childress off. It’s not the fact that Reddick was leaving them. That’s not it. What “it” is in which the manner that Reddick did so. Childress was hoping to at least get a conversation with Reddick and to have a way to plan for an announcement of this magnitude. Something to do jointly. Instead, it was just a quick conversation the morning it was being revealed. That irked Childress to no end.

The tide shifted from Childress holding Reddick in high regard between that win and the win at Indy last Sunday.

“It’s great to see Tyler Reddick in the winner’s circle, Childress said back on July 3 during the winning owners post race press conference. “It wasn’t a matter of if he was going to do it, it was when they were going to win. That’s what we kept telling them. Had a couple of meetings, all of us, and talked about what it’s going to take to get us in the winner’s circle, and that’s not beat yourself and be solid, and that’s what these guys did today, and they did that.”

Childress thought that he had his next Dale Earnhardt. He was extremely fond of Reddick and knew that he was championship worthy.

“You know, I’ve watched Tyler since he was running the trucks,” he said. “He struggled a little bit there, but he was always driving the trucks to their limit. Then when he got in the Xfinity at JR Motorsports, he was the same. He drove — he’s got so much talent, he just pushes that limit every week, and I knew between Randall and myself and talking with him, and I told him this morning, you’re going to win this race.”

Now look at what was said following his Indy win by the same guy talking about the same driver.

“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. This one didn’t happen like that,” Childress said after Reddick won Indy on Sunday.

“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. It’s about a team. Stayed up most of the night thinking about what I should do, how I wanted to handle it.”

Childress had Reddick pulled from Big Machine’s Xfinity Series starts. He was bitter but wanted to figure out a way they could co-exist still. However, they 2 sides didn’t really speak once Reddick told Childress he was leaving.

“We haven’t really spoke much until today since the announcement was made,” Reddick admitted. “Thankfully to win smooths some things over, I think.”

That’s an entire different tune from July 3 until July 31. Childress praising Reddick and saying they were meeting to find in what areas they could improve to get Reddick to victory lane to not even speaking.

The Indy win though helped. Reddick said it forced them to talk again because with all the post race celebrations, the winning car owner and driver have to coexist and they did.

“Yeah. Winning helps,” Reddick said of the situation. ” Certainly it was tough. I don’t think everyone was expecting it or many were expecting it, but again, it was the situation we were dealt.”

Now the situation is this, can Reddick win a championship with RCR. Amid reports RCR could in theory let Reddick out of his contract early, that no longer is an option. This win changes things and at the end of the day, Childress is a winner. He likes to win and knows that he has a driver who can win for him now. So why mess up a good thing out of spite?

“Yeah, Tyler will be in the car at RCR next year,” Childress admitted after the Indy win. “Anytime you win at Indy, it’s always great. 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.”

Reddick has 2 wins on the season now, both in the month of July. He also has a runner-up finish after the pair of penalties for JGR at Pocono. That’s 3 top 2’s in 5 races run including a pole as well. In a season to where parity is king and other than Chase Elliott recently, no one has gotten hot enough to separate themselves from the competition from a championship front runner standpoint, why not Reddick?

“It’s great to be back competitive again,” Childress said. “The doors have been open, the lights have been on, but we haven’t been competitive. But it feels great to come to a racetrack and know you’re going to be one of the teams that’s going to be racing for the win.”

Childress said after he slept on it from the initial shock that Reddick was going to be gone in 2024, he decided it’s bigger than himself or Reddick. This is about people. This is about a team. That 8 car has championship potential and he doesn’t want to kick that down the road without maximizing what they’ve got right now.

“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,” Childress said.

Crew Chief Randall Burnett agreed.

“We’ve talked about it as a group, and Richard sat in on some of them and talked with all of us about it. The biggest thing we can do is go out and do what we did today and that’s put fast cars underneath Tyler and try to win races and show everybody what this team is made of so we can try to figure out what we need to do to fill that void,” he said.

“That’s what we’re going to continue to do. We feel like we’ve got a great shot at the championship this year, to win two races now after just not even a month apart.

“We’re really looking forward to getting to the Chase, and got a lot of good races in there, so hopefully we can pull that off, too.”

Reddick is also all in. He never wasn’t. But how all of this went down and now that he’s won again, it’s motiviating him to be stronger.

“I’ve told him that as long as I’m racing here, I’m going to do everything I can to win races for this team, and I would love to win a championship or two with this team,” he said. “I’m going to be more committed — I feel like the older I get, you smarter you get, the more you find ways to work really hard, and I’m just going to work as hard as I can for this team because there’s a lot of great people on this team, a lot of great people at ECR and a lot of great people not just on my car but at the shop at RCR that work really, really hard on these cars, and they’ve helped me come so far as a driver. I’m just going to give them everything I’ve got.

“I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a matter of proving things, it’s a matter of this is the time we have left. Like I kind of said earlier, we’ve been working hard to built to being a race-winning team. Whether that’s at short tracks, mile-and-a-halfs, road courses, whatever it may be, it seems like road courses have come our way faster than other places.

“For me, I just look at the time we have left, and I know I always give it my all, but certainly knowing that this is when — this is when the end of the road is going to be, I need to do everything I can to win as many races as possible for this group because I wouldn’t be the road course racer I am today if it wasn’t for RCR, if it wasn’t for the people on my team, if it wasn’t for Chevrolet.

“I owe it to them. I owe it to my team. I owe it to the people that really have helped me to get that done and go out there and deliver for them.

“Certainly if anything it’s helped. Just like when Alexa told me, hey, if you win the championship you can name our son, there’s not always times when I think I need an extra motivator because I don’t know if it’s possible or if it’s out there, but when I get them, I take it and run with it. For this situation, knowing when my last day will be with RCR, if anything it’s probably motivated me more than I thought was possible before all this went in motion.”

Can this team win it all this year? The Indy win put them back on the map as a serious contender.


INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – JULY 29: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #18 DoorDash Toyota, prepares for practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 29, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Will Anyone New Break Into The Top 16?

Ryan Blaney leads Martin Truex Jr. by 25 points for the first wildcard spot into the playoffs. Truex Jr. however leads Kevin Harvick by 96 points for the 2nd and final position. As we head to the final month of the regular season, will anyone outside make their ways in?

It’s going to take a win now to get in. 16 full time drivers have 4 weeks to do so. Can they?

Harvick has won 58 races in his career. Brad Keselowski has won 35 times himself. The former series champions are both below the cutline at the moment. Keselowski can win anywhere on talent but the car he’s driving isn’t quite there yet which is why his best shot comes down to Daytona.

Harvick’s best chances are over the next 2 weeks at Michigan (Aug. 7) and Richmond (Aug. 14) as he’s struggled on road courses and superspeedways. Aric Almirola’s best shot is obviously Daytona (Aug. 27) but he can contend at Richmond too. He’s never had a top 5 at Michigan and has no top 15’s at Watkins Glen.

Erik Jones has 2 career wins but also 2 top 10’s in his last 4 starts on the season. He’s not a good road racer so Watkins Glen is likely out and I don’t know how much a Petty GMS car will have the speed to win on a horsepower track like Michigan. For Richmond, he was 23rd in the spring race. His best likely shot it also Daytona.

Austin Dillon has 2 top 5 finishes at Michigan and was 8th in the 2nd race in 2020. He’s always a sleeper at Richmond and can easily win Daytona. Watkins Glen is his only drawback.

Justin Haley’s only win came at Daytona and he’s at his best on those tracks. Same for Michael McDowell. He’s heating up (3 top 10’s in last 5 weeks) and really good on superspeedway’s and road courses. He has 2 good shots to steal a berth.

Chris Buescher has 3 straight top 10’s on road courses and in a car that last won at Daytona in 2017. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. put that No. 17 Ford to victory lane at Daytona that night which was also his last trip to victory lane too. He was 28th at Richmond back in the spring race so I don’t expect much out of him there or Watkins Glen but Michigan and Daytona could be places to where he could thrive.

Cole Custer has 1 career win and just 2 top 10’s all season. Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland are starting to get things figured out and could win Daytona. Corey LaJoie can also win Daytona but he’s 37 points out of 30th. He’d have to make up 37 points in 4 races on Ty Dillon and also win a race too. The odds are stacked higher for him as a result.

The best possible option is Bubba Wallace. He has 3 straight top 10 finishes now. 2 of the 3 were top 5’s. He’s always a threat at Daytona, has a car capable of winning Michigan and driving for a manufacturer that was strong this spring at Richmond.

So the question on if anyone can bump their ways in?

I’d say with so much craziness that we’ve seen so far this year, I think someone does at Daytona and maybe 1 of the next 3 weeks too.


LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA – JULY 24: (L-R) Daniel Suarez, driver of the #99 CommScope Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 DeWalt Toyota, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&Ms Toyota, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, talk backstage during driver intros prior to the NASCAR Cup Series M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 24, 2022 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Will Kyle Busch Sign A Contract This Month?

Kyle Busch admitted on Saturday morning that he’s had a lot of sleepless nights in the “messy” contract situation that he finds himself in. The only multi-time champion in the Cup garage is a free agent for 2023. The guy that’s won 60 times in NASCAR’s premiere series is no closer to a contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing than he was at the start of the season.

Busch is willing to take a pay cut to stay put. Toyota called it a massive failure if they lose Busch. Joe Gibbs Racing wants him back. So what’s the deal of signing a piece of paper and locking him in?

Money.

“That unicorn hasn’t fallen out of the sky or 20 million bucks or whatever it is, and I don’t think it needs to be that number,” he says. “Because obviously there’s a there’s a number in that that then pays a driver and I’ve already said that I’m willing to take concessions and race for under my market value and go forward and being able to stay in the seat that I’ve made home for the last 15 years.”

Busch says this sport has evolved to where you need to have sponsors to continue on.

“It’s not it’s it’s not as simple as being a basketball player and being a Michael Jordan or LeBron James or something like that,” he says. “And being a really good player and the team losing a sponsor and then saying, Okay, Michael, LeBron, you guys, we got to let you go. We can’t afford you know what I mean? So again, you have to have some sponsorship on the car and unfortunately, right now, there’s just not, there’s not that unicorn, there’s not that big $20 million number out there. So we’re, I’d like to be able to piece it together but haven’t heard much on that yet.

“Yeah, I mean, I hate to make comparisons but somebody told me this a week or so ago. It’d be like Dale Earnhardt in 1998, three or four years after winning his last championship being on the free market agency and not having a ride. You know what I mean? Like that just sounds crazy. So I don’t know what to do.”

As a result, he’s had to think of his own future too so he’s talked to other teams to explore what options he could have in 2023.

Kevin Harvick said that he’d love to have Busch join Stewart-Haas Racing and be teammates with him. We know there’s likely an opening in the 10 seat with Aric Almirola still planning on retirement at seasons end. Does Smithfield stay and maybe this become his next destination? Does Almirola who’s been rumored to want to come back end up staying for one more year? If so, does Cole Custer get demoted and Busch end up in the 41 ride with Haas sponsorships just as his brother did?

Those are really his only options of a top ride unless he remains at JGR which is where at the end of the day, he wants to stay with.

“I’ve already admitted that I’m willing to take concessions,” Busch said of his contract negotiations. “I feel like the market is different than what it was years ago and willing to raise for under my market value. So whenever that comes to be it’s obviously a negotiation and then figuring out where I go and what the long term play is what the short term play is, and, you know, hopefully not being able to go through this again.

“I mean, anything’s on the table.”


HAMPTON, GEORGIA – JULY 10: (L-R) Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, crew chief Alan Gustafson and NASCAR Hall of Famer and team owner Rick Hendrick stand during the national anthem prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 10, 2022 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Hendrick Motorsport – Is Chase Elliott Peaking Too Early and Can His Teammate Join Him Up Front Again?

This championship is a long haul. 36 weeks to the finish. We’ve seen over the years of this somewhat new format that the drivers who start out hot early usually fade and the ones who get hot at the end usually take home championship hardware. The thing is, how do you balance not peaking too early?

Chase Elliott is bar none the hottest driver in the sport right now. He heads to August with 5 top 2 finishes in the last 6 races. He was lined up 2nd on the 2nd to last restart at Indy before spinning or that streak would be 6 straight. He feels like he could have won every race that he didn’t in this span.

The question is, can he sustain this or is he peaking too soon?

I mean look at his teammates. Kyle Larson won the 2nd race of the year. He’s not won since. Alex Bowman won the 3rd race of the year. He too has not won since. Bowman had 7 top 10 finishes including 3 top 5’s in the first 11 races to the year. Over the last 11?

0 top 5’s and only 2 top 10’s. He hasn’t scored a top 10 now in the last 8 races. 4 of his last 6 starts have seen him finish 32nd or worse.

William Byron has also fallen off of a cliff. He had 4 top 5’s including 2 wins in a 6 race span this spring. In the last 14 he’s had 1 top 10 and that was a 9th place finish in Road America. He’s been 30th or worse in 3 of the last 6.

As we close out the regular season, can any of these 3 join Elliott up front again or will they go from making a case of sweeping the Championship 4 last year to having at least 1 or 2 of these 3 eliminated in the 1st round.


LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA – JULY 24: Ty Gibbs, driver of the #45 McDonald’s Toyota, sits in his car prior to the NASCAR Cup Series M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 24, 2022 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Silly Season

It seemed like this would be a rather quiet silly season compared to last year’s and next year’s. However, with Kyle Busch being a free agent still, Tyler Reddick signing to 23XI Racing for 2024 and now the injury that sidelines Kurt Busch the last 2 weeks, things are getting more and more heated up.

How does Kurt Busch respond to his head injury. He already admitted that 2023 may be it for him. Denny Hamlin says that Busch has a ride with 23XI for as long as he wants, even if that means signing him for 2024 and beyond and figuring out a 3rd car for Tyler Reddick. Busch sounded if he may hang up his helmet though after next season. Does his recent injury change things?

Ty Gibbs has filled in nicely. For a while it was said that Gibbs 100% was going to be in the Xfinity Series again next season. His dad and grandpa felt it would be rushing him up too quickly to go Cup racing full time in 2023. Now that he’s made 2 starts though…

Kyle Busch and JGR aren’t close still on a contract. Does Gibbs replace Busch in the 18? The writing on the wall is that Martin Truex Jr. retires after 2023 and Gibbs goes there for 2024 but maybe this speeds the process up. Does Kurt Busch retire now or even next year and they house Gibbs there for 2023? Does Kyle Busch replace Kurt Busch in the 45?

Aric Almirola originally was supposed to retire but rumors are he’s second guessing that and may come back for one more year. Ryan Preece was the front runner for the 10 seat if he does retire. SHR was a possible landing destination for Kyle Busch too. Is that in replacement of Almirola if it happens or the 41 seat? Some say Cole Custer may be demoted back to the Xfinity Series. That would create a seat in the No. 41 Ford.

The domino effect is real here and one that’s worth watching this month.

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