Sports

Can time, successfully heal the wounds between Tyler Reddick and RCR?

By Bob Pockrass
Writer NASCAR Sports FOX

Richard Childress knows Tyler Reddick could leave Richard Childress Racing after the 2023 season, so Reddick agreed to join 23XI Racing in 2024 is no surprise.

But Childress, who spoke briefly before Sunday’s race at the Pocono, could not hide his disappointment. He admitted that he was not bitter about the young driver’s decision, only disappointed.

The biggest question is whether the disappointment will result in Childress trying to get Reddick out of the No. Cup car. 8 next year.

Childress sounds like someone who would leave her options open. He’s been in the sport long enough to know that a lame duck situation all season isn’t easy, but also knows that a solid driver and team can get through it, as Kevin Harvick did at RCR with four wins and a third. -place finish in the standings in 2013.

“I have a contract with him in 2023,” Childress replied when asked if Reddick would return to car number 8. “He will be in RCR in 2023.”

When it was mentioned that he didn’t say car No. 8, Childress quipped: “You said that, not me.”

Tyler Reddick explains his decision to join 23XI Racing

Tyler Reddick explains his decision to join 23XI Racing

Why made this decision to go to 23XI Racing now? Tyler Reddick said he saw what 23XI Racing was doing and wanted to be a part of it.

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Childress said she has not spoken to Reddick about her displeasure. Reddick, who looks safe to qualify for the 2022 playoffs thanks to his win at Road America, is hoping a performance like his run in second place on Sunday at the Pocono can heal the wound.

“If we keep going well I’m sure we’ll smooth things over,” Reddick said of his relationship with Childress.

That may be true. Time has a way of healing, and Childress said he was committed to making sure the team did well when asked about Reddick’s return next season.

“Next year is a long holiday,” said Childress. “I am committed to his team to give them everything they need to win the championship and come out in 2023 and give them everything they need to win the championship.

“I have committed myself to our racing team.”

Read between the lines, and it looks like Childress is saying that if she has the chance to land someone she believes is better or better than Reddick in 2023, she might try to find a way to put that driver in car No. 8. Or he may be quite disappointed that he wants to make Reddick sweat through rumors like Childress will now have to sweat talking to potential sponsors for next year and beyond.

Again, performance can help put a stop to that conversation. Reddick sits at 14th in the standings. Some would say that his finish at Pocono (he crossed the line in fourth and then moved up to second) confirms his assertion that he remains focused on doing his best in RCR until 2024.

“None of us [on the team] never doubted it, but of course I think other people have about how it’s going to be,” said Reddick.

“We don’t really need other people’s validation to know we’re doing the right thing, but it’s definitely good to go out there and finish in the top 5.”

Tyler Reddick on the possibility of leaving RCR at the end of the season

Tyler Reddick on the possibility of leaving RCR at the end of the season

Tyler Reddick said he had no discussions with anyone at RCR (initiated by him and/or the team) about the possibility of him leaving after this season.

The whole Reddick drama was probably what caused industry chatter last week even the possibility Kyle Busch would be driving for Childress, who got into an altercation with Busch after the Kansas race in 2011.

Representatives on both sides pointed out that Busch driving for Childress likely won’t happen (but in NASCAR, never say never, right?) and more than likely, Reddick will be in car No. 8 next year. RCR did tease on social media its Cup racer announcement for next week with a shadowy image of what appears to be Series Xfinity racer Austin Hill, but there’s no indication it has anything to do with Reddick’s situation.

“It’s no surprise that he would probably go wherever the money was in ’24,” said Childress. “We made an offer, and the agent said, ‘Your offer is as good as anyone’s.'”

While Childress appears to be making a competitive offer, Reddick said during the 23XI announcement that he is deeply influenced by 23XI’s plans for the future and wants to be a part of it.

For Childress, the hardest part to forget is the timing. He didn’t like being told in the morning about the announcement. He knew the rumors and info might leak, but he felt he should have been given more time.

“The biggest surprise was when he came to us less than an hour before the announcement. I don’t think it shows any respect for his racing team or everyone who brought him to where he is now,” said Childress.

“Less than an hour before the announcement? A lot of things revolve around the 18 month announcement.”

That’s why Childress, in a statement following Reddick’s announcement, said the timing couldn’t have been worse.

“The biggest thing is you have to come up to me respectfully and say, ‘Hey, I’ve signed, I want to do something, how do you think we should make an announcement together?'” Childress said on Sunday.

“All that didn’t happen. I’m not upset he went wherever he went. But the way he handled it was so unprofessional… I asked them to wait until the end of the year and let’s do it.”

What to pay attention to?

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has replaced the divider where the splitter was torn last year and removed some of the bumps that cause the car to slide into corners.

That would require NASCAR to perhaps formalize track limits but would also keep the race from confusing crashes from last year.

So how NASCAR leads the race will be something to watch out for.

Another story to watch? Ty Gibbs.

Gibbs will make his second straight start in place of Kurt Busch, who suffered concussion-type symptoms after crashing at Pocono in Saturday’s qualifier.

“I’m dedicated to focusing on my recovery and getting back on track,” said Busch.

The 19-year-old Gibbs finished 16th on his Pocono debut. He’s had highway track wins in his Xfinity career, and how he raced on Cup highway lanes could be an indication of how his skills correlate with Next Gen cars.

Thinking out loud

For every race since 2019, NASCAR’s post-race technical inspection process is working fine. It takes the top two cars for complete demolition, and sometimes random for other demolitions.

Cars from third to fifth go through a minimal process of checking alignment, weight and visual appearance by inspectors. Once they pass, they are released to be loaded onto the carrier and leave the track.

But at last week’s Pocono, that process resulted in the eventual race-winning car never being torn apart completely. That’s because the top two cars both failed the check—after Chase Elliott’s third-place car had been cleared from a less stringent check.

Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch disqualified after Pocono race

Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch disqualified after Pocono race

Quick Thoughts: NASCAR must have felt that a very bad JGR foul to disqualify Sunday’s top two finishing cars at the Pocono.

Should NASCAR keep the third place car until at least the second place car passes the technology? Should it keep the top five? Is it necessary to accommodate all the cars? What will be the line?

The only really fair thing to do is keep all the cars in the carrier and not be allowed to leave until the cars pass the technology. But it kept the team on track for at least another hour, if not longer.

One thing Sunday proved is that the third place car must be held. And my guess is until all the top three are disqualified in one day, then consider holding the top four or five.

Social highlight

They say it

“If he wants to keep it he can keep it as far as I know. He crosses the finish line first.” — Chasing Elliott if he wants the trophy from the winner of DQ Denny Hamlin

Bob Pockrass has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 after stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpokrass. Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass!


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Can time, successfully heal the wounds between Tyler Reddick and RCR?

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