PLYMOUTH, Wis. — The fact Sunday’s race at Road America marked Tyler Reddick’s first career win in the NASCAR Cup Series seemed unfathomable.
“He’s not got a win yet?” Chris Buescher said. “Really?”
“I honestly thought he did,” said Buescher, who finished sixth. “That’s actually surprising because they’ve been really good. That’s definitely nice to finally break through that one.”
Indeed, prior to the Kwik Trip 250, Reddick did not possess a checkered flag from NASCAR’s top level. It was his only goose egg in the national ranks. He owns three from the Camping World Truck Series and 10 from the Xfinity Series.
The 26-year-old California native is in the midst of his third full-time Cup Series season, and he has come close — so close. Reddick had five runner-up finishes, two alone this season, prior to this Victory Lane debut.
“Yup,” Reddick said, “I did.”
|DATE||TRACK||WINNER||MARGIN OF VICTORY|
|July 19, 2020||Texas||Austin Dillon||0.149 seconds|
|Feb. 28, 2021||Miami||William Byron||2.777 seconds|
|Oct. 10, 2021||Charlotte Roval||Kyle Larson||0.782 seconds|
|April 17, 2022||Bristol Dirt||Kyle Busch||0.330 seconds|
|May 8, 2022||Darlington||Joey Logano||0.775 seconds|
Those marks haven’t gone unnoticed in the garage.
“I know they’ve been searching for that first win for some time, and that’s a special thing to do,” 2020 champion Chase Elliott said. “I’m happy for him. He deserves it. He’s been really close.”
Reddick had to fend off Elliott of all people, too. Elliott won at Road America in 2021. He also holds the most road-course wins (seven) among active drivers.
With 17 laps remaining, Reddick took three turns – from Turns 5-7 – to complete a pass on Elliott for the lead. Reddick’s No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet then beat Elliott’s No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy by 3.304 seconds.
“At one point, I was on (Reddick’s) bumper behind the 5 (Kyle Larson) and then we were third and fourth,” fourth-place finisher Ross Chastain said. “And he had enough grip and speed to pass the 5, and then there was the last cycle of pit stops and he was able to go past the 9 (Elliott). I just kind of stayed back there behind them; I couldn’t quite do it.
“Just the confidence that he was able to do that. He’ll look back and see that he was able to leave me behind. But then knowing you won a Cup race, it’s indescribable, and for me, it was everything I’d ever dreamed of.”
Chastain captured his first career win earlier this season at another road course, Circuit of The Americas. His teammate, Daniel Suárez, won the other road event at Sonoma Raceway to earn his first, too. Three first-time winners on road courses are the most ever in a single NASCAR season.
In addition to those two and Reddick, Austin Cindric (Daytona International Speedway) and Chase Briscoe (Phoenix Raceway) inked their names in the Cup Series win book.
“I’m very happy for him,” said Suárez, who rounded out Sunday’s top five. “Obviously he deserved it. He’s been knocking on the door for a few months now, just like we were in the No. 99 team, so very happy for him. I think it’s gonna be more fun now to race him now that he’s a little more relieved.”
Reddick’s relief also comes in the form of a provisional playoff ticket. He made the 16-driver field last year on points. This year – unless there are more than 16 different winners; there are 13 now – he won’t have to worry about that.
Speaking of last season’s playoffs, behind Reddick and Elliott was reigning champion Kyle Larson in third. Larson won three of the seven road events in 2021. There are four more on the 2022 schedule.
“(Reddick’s) always strong on the road courses,” Larson said. “He outruns his teammate by a lot every time we come to road courses. He’s just really aggressive, really aggressive on the braking, and obviously just executed a great race.
“So, yeah, I’m proud of him. And I know the rest of Northern California is, too.”