CONCORD, N.C. – Tyler Reddick has been sporty at all road courses during the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season. That held true in Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Reddick began the 109-lap race in 29th position. In the opening laps, however, the No. 8 Chevrolet had drove well inside the top 20. But late in the first stage, he made contact with Matt DiBenedetto, having to make an unscheduled pit stop.
Reddick finished 38th in the stage, last of cars on track.
“Getting caught up in pretty serious contact between myself and Matt DiBenedetto and the wall on the back straightaway,” Reddick said post race. “For the car to still be as good as it was after having hard wheel-to-wheel contact with the wall and him was relieving.”
Despite a plethora of different pit strategies, Reddick ended the second stage in 15th. When the race cycled out, the No. 8 car was up front battling inside the top five for the majority of the final stage, alongside his Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon.
Having both RCR cars run inside the top five has been foreign on a road course in recent years. Reddick believes the company has made great strides on these tracks since he joined the organization in 2019.
“It’s gone in the right direction,” Reddick added. “Having AJ Allmendinger come in and be apart of Kaulig Racing, helping make our stuff better on the Xfinity side and now on the Cup side has really helped. Our team working hard in the offseason to clean up and make better what was our worst type of racing.
“A year ago here, I was absolutely terrible at road courses and dreaded getting to them. With this out, they were our best shot to win.”
After a couple of late-race cautions, Dillon faded to 15th in the finishing order. That came after Reddick made contact with William Byron with 20 laps to go, sending the No. 24 car through the backstretch chicane.
On fresh tires, that hindered Byron’s chances of going up and passing race leader Denny Hamlin for the lead.
“I just flat out made a mistake and ran into the back of him,” Reddick said. “I was trying to stay as close as I could; we’re all trying to outbrake and get the limit of the car. I was trying to stay as close as I could to his bumper to try and put myself in a position to make a pass either on the outside of him or inside of him off of the rear chicane.
“I just got into the back of him ever so slightly and that’s all it took to unhook the rear tire and that wheel hop to happen. Not on purpose. It stinks to see that small amount of contact completely change the trajectory that much.”
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 10, 2021
Following the race, the duo had a discussion and Byron voiced his displeasure. Reddick believes Byron handled it better than he would have.
Byron, though, was still frustrated about the situation, believing he was in the best position to win after leading a race-high 30 laps.
“I know it was a mistake, but it doesn’t make it any different,” Byron said to a group of media. “The awareness there in that situation, with a guy running for the playoffs and the first guy on new tires, probably going to win the race. Just a lack of awareness there. If the roles were reversed, I feel like I would be aware.”
Late in the race, Byron raced to third, but spun on his own with two laps to go. That ended any hopes he had of winning his way into the Round of 8. Reddick went on to cruise to a runner-up finish, .782 seconds behind Kyle Larson.
While tying his best career Cup finish is great, he wasn’t able to score the coveted first victory.
— RCR (@RCRracing) October 10, 2021
“It’s nice, but one spot different would be a totally different story,” Reddick said. “I’ve been saying all year if we could just put together a good race without any mistakes or incidents, I think we could win and today is another notch on that board.”
After the points were reseeded, Reddick’s No. 8 team ranks 12th, just four markers below 10th.