The four NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship contenders met with the media individually on Thursday afternoon.
What happened when you tried to put the diaper on the cat?
TYLER REDDICK: It’s hard to explain. My girlfriend brought in a stray, if you will, before she moved back to North Carolina with me. She got this cat ready to be put down. She couldn’t help it. $20 later she surprised me with the cat when she moved in.
She’s a good cat, big cat. Not aggressive, won’t bite you. We got some diapers. Let’s put one on the cat. One of those deals. It went okay. Just weird. I was bored. I had a bunch of diapers, didn’t know what I was going to do with them for a while.
How is setting up for this year’s championship different than last year?
TYLER REDDICK: Two out of the three drivers we had to compete against last year in this deal. Arguably Justin should have been there, too, with the year he had last year. It’s cool to see him be able to get there, considering all the tough things that didn’t go his way.
I never want to see somebody else win a race that you could possibly win, but it was cool to see him win at Phoenix, get himself locked into Homestead. Just cool to have another Chevy to go against the Ford and the Toyota.
Do you feel any different coming in here as the defending champion?
TYLER REDDICK: I wouldn’t say the mindset is really different. Me and Randall get along really well. Derek does a great job up on the roof, our pit crew that does pit stops for us on Sundays. They do a great job. We have a really good, complete team.
I wouldn’t say the mindset is different, but I have more confidence. I’m excited to get on track tomorrow hopefully if rain can stay away, see how much speed this thing has.
Daniel was able to make a lot of the bottom at Homestead relatively quick compared to other guys like myself. Already bouncing off the fence. That tells me they got a lot of good speed. I’m curious to see how that translates and what we have to do with the new tire going into this weekend.
Were you to win a championship driving for a second team, something that no one has done before, what would it mean back‑to‑back?
TYLER REDDICK: It would mean a lot. The second one, I kind of said it a few times today, for me it’s more about winning it for RCR in the 50th year. Granted Cup racing next year, but I want to do everything I can to win what I can for them, that’s an Xfinity Series championship.
All the guys at the chassis shop, on that compound that have put a lot of effort into these cars all year long. We have the five wins, got the most top fives, regular‑season championship. Those are all good things. We want to add one more thing to that, and be a champion on Saturday after the race is over.
Is it an advantage for Bell that he did have time on this tire since no one else has other than the rookies?
TYLER REDDICK: We’ve all been on this tire a few times this year. Chicagoland was the first, to my recollection. Christopher and Cole were both really fast there. We struggled a little bit, didn’t see the falloff we were expecting.
Going into Darlington, once we got there, it was Darlington. It was a lot of fun and it was slick. Cole was really good there, too. We struggled with our car a little bit. I think Justin had good speed, too. He was just hitting the wall, driving like Tyler out there.
I think we’ll see the falloff that we’d normally see here at Homestead, but it’s just a little bit different. There’s some different changes to it. You’ll need a little bit different setup than what you had a year ago.
We’re with a different team. Our car is a little different. For us, I wouldn’t say it’s a huge disadvantage. For sure, Joe Gibbs Racing brought a car down here, had the rookie test, what you said, Christopher a few laps, then Justin Allgaier will probably have some data from when Noah was down here testing, then Chase I believe was down here testing, as well. Stewart‑Haas has some information there, too.
Those couple laps on track may be beneficial, may not be. Hard to say. Just a handful of laps. During the summer, if you will, too. We’ll have more grip. Everyone will kind of stew on what the tires did since we ran them. We’ll see.
Allgaier, until a few minutes ago, I didn’t realize the type of relationship you have. It seems like he enjoys your company, he kind of mentored you a little bit. If nothing else, you had fun, right?
TYLER REDDICK: We did have fun. For good and bad, he unfortunately got to see the disaster I was at times last year during the regular season, all over the place, fast, running into things, this and that. He got an inside look at that.
We’re dirt racers, backgrounds. Different time periods. It was easy for us to get along together as teammates last year, and still get along today.
How is your confidence different from last year when you were the underdog?
TYLER REDDICK: It’s higher. Like I said, I feel like we’re going into this more complete of a race team. We’ve shown the takeoff speed with getting poles, just being good on the beginning of the run. The pit crew have done a good job, been consistent. Had a good pit crew last year, the guys on the 88 on the Cup side did a good job for us.
All around we’re complete. We’ve been more consistent. I was enthused by the amount of speed Daniel had in the fall. We’ll see what that translates into tomorrow.
Will you be able to run the top the way you did last year?
TYLER REDDICK: Yeah, absolutely. I think different tire, the setup you had last year might not work quite as good, might work the same. Every driver needs something different.
The fence is still there. I think we’re still going to see that falloff. It’s a matter of how bad you want it, how much you’re willing to risk. The fence ain’t going nowhere.
You used the word ‘complete’ to describe your team. How big is it to keep Randall and Derek going into your Cup season next year?
TYLER REDDICK: It’s huge. Me and Randall, even before day one, we were getting along really well in the off‑season, getting to know each other, just naturally came together really good. Randall had a background in dirt racing. He came from the St. Louis area, Belleville area in Illinois. I grew up, spent years living in Du Quoin, not far from there. Kind of brought us together naturally well.
With Derek coming on on the Xfinity side, Randall had worked with him when he was at Ganassi with Kyle and all that. I knew Derek from my time racing part‑time at Ganassi, too. We both had a big push to get him to do the Xfinity deal for us this year. It just happened to fall into place where we were able to have him going into the Cup season.
It’s really cool, exciting to get all these pieces and put them together.
What value does Derek bring?
TYLER REDDICK: He brings a lot. What brought it all into perspective for me is when I was running part‑time at Ganassi, I would go up and sit or stand next to Derek during practice, the races, really get an understanding of his vantage point, what he sees, how he communicates, how well of a job he did. That brought it all together for me when I was doing those races when I did have him, when I was in the racecar, it gave me a better understanding of how hard that job is and how good he was at it.
Whenever I saw the opportunity open up for him to come into the Xfinity program, me and Randall stepped on that as fast as we could. We got him.
How did you talk him into leaving Larson?
TYLER REDDICK: That deal, I think there was other things going on there that ‑‑ not really my place to say. It just came about that he wasn’t going to return next year. He was having a lot of fun working with me. Everyone at RCR really enjoyed how well of a job he did at Talladega to get our first win of the year, week in, week out. For our whole crew, Randall, everybody.
What have you been doing to get your mind away from things and not overthink?
TYLER REDDICK: There might be a good chance I’ve overthought things, but that’s okay. Chevy has been very gracious in allowing me and Justin to get a lot of simulator time this week. We’ve pretty much ran out of ideas, if you will. We thought of a lot of things, gone through a lot of things we can.
I feel like I learned some things to help our car in the short run, a few things about the long run that I never really tapped into last year. I don’t know if I say could have or would have found. We’ll see if that overlays into real life.
I was really excited to get all the time we got. A huge thanks to Chevy and all those guys for allowing us to try and do the best we can going into this race, a race we haven’t been able to run since last year.
Does the simulator give you a chance to play out scenarios that might be good and bad?
TYLER REDDICK: There’s only so much you can do in there. You can’t have other cars out there racing against them. You can work on your car. You can work on small details, give your crew chief a better idea of what changes might work, maybe how to adjust the starting point on Friday morning or Friday afternoon because you get two sets of tires.
These tires change a lot per lap. They change a lot per heat cycle. In my mind, you get two runs, maybe three. You do one short run on your first set, then do a longer run at the end of first practice, or just two long runs and you’re done. You do much more than that, you kind of get lost. That’s been my thought.
You can do all your work for Homestead going into it, and you just validate it in practice on those two sets of tires.
Do you watch World of Outlaws?
TYLER REDDICK: I mean, I ran the late model series a year or two. The Sprint cars when I was really young before I physically started racing, I would go watch them race at Chico, got a fan of Steve Kinser.
I keep up with it. I like the wing cars, they’re truly special to watch, too.
Any thoughts on David Gravel running trucks next year?
TYLER REDDICK: It’s exciting stuff. Like I said, I don’t do the best job of keeping up with it. Christopher and Justin could tell you more. I do love watching the races. Those guys are madmen. They go after it really hard. The stuff they have to deal with with dirty air is a lot like asphalt racing. I think he’ll do a good job.
I wish I could say I followed the racing more than I do to give you a better opinion. I know he’s going to be aggressive, willing to take chances that most people won’t. If you just watch them do one lap in a Sprint car, you’ll see how much they put on the line every lap, how aggressive they are.
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