You see it in most stick and ball sports. When one player goes to a new team and a replacement comes in for them, they seem to be compared to each other. Even draft classes among those players have competition. Who’s stats line up against the others?
I mean we just did that with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Who has more success away from the other? Russell Wilson and the Broncos vs. Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks?
They’re always the measuring stick. It comes with greatness.
Well in racing, it’s going to be Kyle Busch and RCR vs. Tyler Reddick and 23XI Racing now. These two sides are always going to be paired and compared to one another now.
What I mean by this is simple. Follow along for this journey below.
One side gets a 2 time winner. Another gets one that has as many championships as the other wins. However, he’s 11 years older
When Reddick won the July 3 race at Road America, it was his first career Cup win. Richard Childress really thought he found gold by bringing Reddick on the last two years and was as excited as ever for the future of RCR.
He knew that there was an option to be decided on for 2023 and then the 2 would reevaluate for 2024 and beyond. Childress however, felt the burden of not being able to provide Reddick the cars and equipment needed to succeed. Now, he felt like he finally was able to give Reddick that and the two could really have a long term future together.
“It’s great to see Tyler Reddick in the winner’s circle,” Childress said after their Road America victory. “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.
“I’ve watched Tyler since he was running the trucks. 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. I was just proud of what these guys have done and accomplished, and it’s been a huge team effort.”
The problem was, Reddick was already talking to another team, one that he felt could get him to victory lane more times over the course of his career than RCR.
At the time of the announcement RCR hadn’t won a Cup title since 1994. They had 5 wins since 2014. In fact, from 2014 through 2021, they were winless in 6 of those 8 seasons. They had 1 win in the other 2 years each.
Reddick has also 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 with a team he feels like is on the rise.
“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.”
In Denny Hamlin’s case, he knows what he’s building and is doing so the right way. Reddick is a giant piece to that puzzle to make them more competitive.
“I watched him. I raced against him. I wanted him and I got him,” Hamlin said via the Toyota call this past July. “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.”
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. He has a long term value.
“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.”
It was pretty clear back in mid July too that 23XI Racing has a higher ceiling than RCR.
So what led a driver of Busch’s caliber, then one that has won two championships and 60 races to replace Reddick at RCR? Lately, RCR has been a place to where drivers leave for better opportunities. Harvick and Reddick being prime examples.
“RCR has an impressive history in NASCAR and I’m honored that Richard is putting his trust in me to come in and continue to build on that legacy,” said Busch. “Growing up in a family of passionate racers myself, I feel like the culture that the Childress family has built within their organization will be an ideal fit for me. As I begin the next chapter of my career, I’m looking forward to driving for RCR and working with everyone there to add more wins and championships to both of our resumes.”
This Next Gen has provided RCR with much better chances of winning too. Austin Dillon just gave RCR their 3rd win of the 2022 season. It’s the first time since 2011 when multiple RCR drivers won in a given season. Harvick won 4 times that year. Paul Menard won once.
It’s also the most wins in a single season for RCR since Harvick won 4 times in 2013 too. Does this signify that RCR is back?
They’re trending closer.
It’s a long way from being winless in 2021 and having 1 win in 2020. This time, they have 3 trips to victory lane and 2 of the 3 are at iconic tracks in Indianapolis and Daytona.
Busch sees that in RCR to what Reddick saw in 23XI.
However, Reddick is only 26. Busch is 37. That’s an 11 year gap between their ages. One could say Reddick is just now entering his prime and that Busch is closing his years out. However, Kevin Harvick has also won twice this year and is 46.
Busch is as talented as they come and I don’t necessarily see why in the right situation with RCR, that he can’t keep winning races for the next decade which would put Reddick at the same age Busch is now.
So who comes out as the winner in this process?
We likely won’t know for the next decade.