An Interview With: TYLER REDDICK, RICHARD CHILDRESS
THE MODERATOR: We are going to close out the evening with our race‑winning driver for the NASCAR Xfinity Series champion and the race today here at Homestead, Tyler Reddick, driver of the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro. This is Tyler’s second NASCAR Xfinity Series championship, and obviously he won last year and again this year, and then Richard Childress joins us as the race‑winning team owner. This is Richard Childress Racing’s fifth NASCAR Xfinity Series championship. So congratulations, Richard, on continued success there.
Tyler, over the radios you were making that last lap, crossed the finish line, and you obviously went crazy. Coming down pit road, dodging the people ‑‑
TYLER REDDICK: I messed that up. I knew we needed to get the tires checked, and I didn’t want to go right to doing burnouts. I wanted to get that checked right away. And I thought I had to go down pit road and come out by Turn 1. I should have just backed up, but it’s all good. I’ve got to make a mistake somewhere along the way. It’s part of it.
Over radio also Wayne Auton comes over and says: You are a two‑time champion. What did that feel like?
TYLER REDDICK: It was awesome. The first one was special, but this one means more and it’s special in different ways on top of it, from the moment me and Richard sat down last year talking about doing something this current year and how much excitement and faith he had in my driving ability, and he thought we could ‑‑ well before I won the championship with JR Motorsports, he thought I could be a champion.
Did it last year at JR Motorsports, but this year we did it more consistently, had the most top 5s. Maybe not led the most laps, but we tooth and clawed our way for every top 5, every top 10, and that got us a regular season championship, and that allowed us to go through the playoffs in a manner that allowed us to get here even when we made a few mistakes along the way.
Hats off to this team. I wrecked a few really good race cars that we were planning on bringing here, and we brought our third option, and it was amazing. It was a great car, great team, and we just did what we needed to do to win the championship and the race with it.
Tyler, what’s it mean to be the first driver to win consecutive championships with two different teams?
TYLER REDDICK: It’s awesome, but like I said, it’s really special to win it with Richard and this team, from the shop guys that don’t get to travel that were expressing how excited they were to have me come in and how high their excitement level was, just getting me more pumped up than even winning a championship only a week ago, having people tell me how excited and enthused they are, went a long way and a lot further than even I anticipated initially.
And we hit the ground running in February with the Pole and as much speed and drivability in our car at Daytona. Randall was telling me from the get‑go: This thing is going to be fast, it’s going to drive good. And that’s kind of been what we’ve had all year long.
And it’s allowed me to be a better driver, drive smarter, be more consistent even on some of the racetracks where I had a lot of learning to do. Just an amazing team effort from the top down. It’s just been a blast this year.
RC, I haven’t seen you this happy in a long time. How has this youngster revitalized RCR, particularly in the Xfinity Series, and what are your expectations for next season?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: You know, I think he’s an amazing talent. I seen that before he even won his first championship, watching him race. He drove some loose race cars that year for Jr. and those guys. Really loose. That gets you in trouble. First thing I told Randall, you keep him tight enough, he’ll go out and win a lot of races for us. And he did.
We’re so excited. I just felt if we could get here, we’d have a great shot of winning the championship, and the talent that he’s got next year is going to be ‑‑ it’s going to raise RCR to another level.
We’ve changed so much this year. I’m as excited about next year as I have been in a long time, having Tyler in the Cup car and the things we know he can do and what he’ll bring to RCR.
Tyler, Dustin mentioned a stat. You also join a pretty prestigious club of drivers who have back‑to‑back Xfinity titles: Sam Ard, Larry Pearson, Randy LaJoie, Dale Jr., Martin Truex Jr., and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Three or four years ago when you were starting your journey in NASCAR, did you ever imagine you’d be on a list like that?
TYLER REDDICK: No, I really didn’t. Just goes to show when you get a group of really good people together and you can just do some crazy things, some incredible things.
It’s been a lot of fun this year. Last year the chemistry was great, JR Motorsports with Dave and our whole team, but we had that again here at RCR right away, and from the top down, and just our road crew, to the guys back at the shop working on our cars, to all of it, it’s just a great organization.
We get along really well. We have fun, and we work really, really hard. It’s just been a blast this year to put our heads together and go out and tackle the goals and challenges we have set forth in front of us.
It’s been a lot of fun. I know the next step is going to be more challenging, but it’s been a blast racing the Xfinity Series the last three years, and it’s really cool being able to go back‑to‑back.
Randall said that he was nervous for all 200 laps. Specifically I asked him about the last run when he was inches off the wall. What were your feelings like watching it? Did you want him to move down a lane or so?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: No, I seen him do it last year. That didn’t have me nervous. My whole blood pressure went up a little bit as they started getting at the end, I kept hoping not for a caution, then the 7 hit the wall, and you never know what happens when you hit pit road.
That was the only that I was really ‑‑ I had confidence in him. I know what he can do, and I know how he can drive the race car, and he’s a special talent for sure.
Richard, are you going to have somebody try to defend this title for the 2 car next year in the series?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: We will have an Xfinity car next year. If I had my goal, it would be one Xfinity team and one part‑time team. Using the part‑time team, we’ll use it a little as a development team.
Tyler, was there ever a point during this race where you didn’t feel like you were going to get to choose the name of your child, and what’s it like to race with ‑‑ how in the world did you decide that the name of the child would be dependent on this race?
TYLER REDDICK: I had nothing to do with it. Something came over Alexa one morning, she woke up, she was not going to let ‑‑ the names I came up with she didn’t really like, and one I was really dead set on, I was having my friends, whenever we were talking about the little one inside of her, disrupting her or when we’d ask about her, I got my friends on board with just, How is Beau doing?
So it really got to frustrating her. And one day she woke up, and she’s like, all right, I don’t know what’s come over me, maybe it’s pregnancy brain, but I’ve got an idea. If you win the championship, you can name it what you want to. But if you lose it, I get to pick my name and you’re going to have to live with it for the rest of your life. I’m like, if I win it, you’ve got to live with it, too. I had a lot of motivation coming into this, and that was the extra bit of motivation that I didn’t know I needed, but it definitely sure helped.
What did she have picked out?
TYLER REDDICK: Ryker. It might still be a middle name, who knows. But I don’t know why, I just like Bo. I don’t know. It just seems fitting.
Tyler, when you look back on tonight, on Richard believing in you as you mentioned even before you came here, if not for him, do you think we’re sitting here or you’re sitting here having this conversation and celebrating like you are?
TYLER REDDICK: Man, I don’t know. You know, it was just really cool and really special for him to want me to come over here. That in itself was motivation, too, for me. Even last year, going on the stretch in the playoffs and then winning that championship. It got me fired up just to do what I did last year, and it had me fired up coming into this year, too.
It’s just real cool that he had all the faith in the world in me at a time when I maybe haven’t did it in myself. Just real awesome to be able to have two back‑to‑back championships with two different teams. And what made this one so much more special is we were consistent week in and week out. I think we had more top 5s than anybody, and we were just always there. We were always ‑‑ we had a lot of chances to win a lot of races this year, and they didn’t always pan out, but we were very consistent, and that’s nice.
Mr. Childress, this is not your first rodeo. What does this young man remind you of? Who does he kind of mirror do you think as a driver out of all the drivers you’ve seen through your years, and does he get a discount at the winery?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Most definitely he’s got a lifetime wine club membership. We’ve got about 2,000. He’s going to be 2,001. I’ve been fortunate to see so many race drivers over my career, and I’ve had the greatest with Dale Earnhardt driving our race car.
I think if I look back throughout the years and history, and I’ve said it a couple other times, I got asked that tonight, was the great Cale Yarborough. Cale was a great friend of mine. Watching how Tyler drives a race car, nothing shakes him, and that’s who he remind me so much of.
Cale would drive that car sideways, whatever it took. He would come in, he was a three‑time champion and won a lot of races, and I think ‑‑ you look at the talent that’s coming up next year, and I’ve seen so many throughout my career, but next year with Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer, Christopher Bell, that’s going to be quite a race next year. So I’m excited about racing those two guys, too.
Tyler, you’re in the same spot as last year, but obviously the season that preceded it was much different. Does this one feel different to you now that you’re here in the moment?
TYLER REDDICK: Absolutely. I knew coming in it was going to feel different if we were able to succeed. Yeah, it’s just a total team effort. We were, like I said, consistent every week, and the things we were able to do and the things the team were able to help me with to accomplish, the things I wasn’t very good at. And then some of our most consistent races become those road courses and things like that.
Just it’s awesome. They helped me a lot, and it just was a lot of motivation to go out there and get it done tonight when at times we were sixth, seventh, and other times we were down a couple laps on tires to other guys and just pushing them when we had to push and get around the 7 and the 20 ‑‑ the 20, the 7 and the 00 at the end there, too. They motivated me a lot this year, and I was coming into this with a lot of fire.
Obviously this was one of the more special championship battles we’ve had with you, Custer and Bell. Now that it’s kind of over and you have time to soak it in, what memories do you take away from that and does this make this any more special?
TYLER REDDICK: It was perfect it came down to us three. At some point at the end of stage 3, whether it was before the caution or whatever, we were battling, man, and that green flag pit stop, we were just battling like we have all year long.
It’s just awesome we were able to come out on top on the deal, but a lot of times this year the 20 and the 00 have bested us, too. Been a lot of fun racing them. I’m looking forward to racing them along with some really talented other drivers on Sundays, and it’s just crazy that us three were able to win so many races and we were racing against each other so much. It was a blast.
Richard, one driver that’s been linked to your organization is Daniel Suárez. I’m wondering if that’s someone you’re interested in and if you’d had conversations with him.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Some of our people have talked. Daniel is a very talented driver. He’s going to land, and wherever he goes he’ll do a great job. We’re talking to several different drivers about the 2 car next year, so I don’t know, but Daniel will do good wherever he lands.
Tyler, talking to Randall earlier, he was excited about the band staying together, you and him and Derek going Cup racing next year. How much are you excited about that, and do you feel like it’s going to at least take some of the edge off that transition knowing that you’ve already got the communication?
TYLER REDDICK: Absolutely. I mean, we got really lucky to ‑‑ unfortunately for Ross Chastain and some good guys over there, Mike Shiplett, Davin, Derek and guys on the 42 car that I’ve worked with, when that stuff went south for Ross, I felt bad, but I couldn’t help but be a little selfish and hit up Derek right away and see if he had a home for 2019 because I know how good he is, and he did such a great job.
We were in the process of looking to find a spotter, and I knew it was going to be a challenge to get Derek on there, but Randall knows Derek, I know Derek really well, and he does a great job, so it was really cool to have him come on board on the Xfinity side this year. And one thing led to another, and the seas kind of parted and we were able to get him to come on board with us for next year, too.
It’s just awesome. We’ve had a lot of fun this year. We’ve had fun ‑‑ me and Derek have had fun in the past, and you know, at Ganassi. It’s just really cool. It’s the first time in three years or something like that that I’ve been able to stay at the same place over the winter, and really excited to use all the tools that RCR has and Chevy has to allow us to hit the ground running come February.
Richard, I know you expressed so much optimism with having Tyler and what you’ve got coming for next year, but to kind of cap the year off like this as you look back on it, 50th anniversary, how much does celebrating this moment and what Tyler has brought to the team on this anniversary, what’s that mean to you?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I mean, it’s really special to win a championship with Tyler 50 years later. It’s just ‑‑ it blows my mind to even think I lived to be 50. But to win a race and a championship and have a great driver like Tyler be right there with us, and I am so excited about next year because we’re bringing ‑‑ I’m letting these crew chiefs on the 3 and the 8 car next year, which Tyler will be driving, he’s going to bring his whole team up.
We’re making a lot of changes, and I think you’re going to see a different RCR next year. Tyler is going to put everybody to work over there because he’s going to bring some speed and some talent with it.
TYLER REDDICK: It’ll be great. Justin Alexander and I have worked together at times this year, and Randall and Justin get along really, really well. Really looking forward to that. It’s going to be a long off‑season, but it’s going to go by fast all at the same time.
Tyler, what was the syrup chug like?
TYLER REDDICK: It was actually not bad at all. I hadn’t had that much sugar that quick in a long time I don’t think. It was just making sure I didn’t get a sugar rush to the head. But it was great. It was enjoyable.
I also said I was going to do it, so I had to stay true to it.
It was part of the promise you made, right?
TYLER REDDICK: Yes, I did, so I had to stay true to it.
THE MODERATOR: Tyler, on Tuesday you get to go to Universal with our friends at Comcast and Xfinity. Just talk a little bit about that. I think you had the chance to go last year, but any new plans to take on some new rides this time around?
TYLER REDDICK: Man, anything Harry Potter is great. I know Kayla loves Harry Potter and Universal and all the things about it. It was cool. I got to go last year, and now I get to go back and get to experience some new rides too. We’re going to be enjoying it, Kayla is going to be enjoying it. Alexa, unfortunately, probably can’t go on any of the rides. I offered the trip up to Cole. I didn’t really tell Alexa yet. But Cole might go with me, I don’t know. He didn’t seem too opposed to it.
Tyler, this is just a funny one. How are you going to spell Beau?
TYLER REDDICK: Oh, B‑e‑a‑u, not B‑o. It’s not body odor. B‑e‑a‑u. Like Bo Duke? Well, that was Randall’s idea actually. Randall was all on the kick because the middle name needed to be Duke, Bo Duke. I don’t know if I could convince Alexa of that. I loved the Dukes of Hazzard growing up, but I take it she didn’t watch a lot of it. She’s from Chicago; she’s from up north. I don’t think she’s southern in any way. We’ll see.
What was going through your mind when you made that (indiscernible) that was just absolutely amazing out of Turn 4?
TYLER REDDICK: Oh, the crossover? I don’t know, like ‑‑ it’s kind of funny, last week me and Justin Allgaier were kind of doing the same thing, downshifting, crossing each other over. They’re totally different racetracks by all means, but because of that with Justin the week before and how much fun that was, I just had a feeling Cole was going to do it, and I knew he was really, really loose up by the fence.
So 3 and 4, it just worked out good. I saw the shape he got and my car pivoted, turned, and I got back to the gas, and it took off, it got off the corner really well. There was nothing sweeter than when I saw the 00 get back far enough where I could slide up in front of him and go on about my business.
But I’ve got to tell you, he didn’t make it easy. I started taking it a little easier and tried to be smart about it, and he started to figure out, get a little bit faster. If I wasn’t careful or made a mistake, he was going to be right there at the end.
You’ve got Bell’s number here; for whatever reason he just struggles at the end of this deal, and it’s like you’ve got this place figured out.
TYLER REDDICK: Well, we’ll see in May, I guess.
THE MODERATOR: Well, congratulations to both of you. You guys enjoy tonight, and we appreciate you spending time with us.
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