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Logan Riely | Getty Images

Why Tyler Reddick? Team owner Richard Childress explains faith in No. 8

PLYMOUTH, Wis. — There was never any doubt.

Tyler Reddick officially joined Richard Childress Racing’s Cup Series operation in 2020, taking control of its second full-time entry in NASCAR’s top tour alongside veteran Austin Dillon. It took 90 starts in the car, but on Sunday, Reddick personally returned the No. 8 Chevrolet to Victory Lane for the first time since 2006. The checkered flag marked career win No. 1 for Reddick and No. 110 for team owner Richard Childress.

“It’s great to see Tyler Reddick in the winner’s circle,” Childress said. “It wasn’t a matter of if he was going to do it, it was a matter of when they were going to win.”

RELATED: Official race results | How Reddick won Road America

ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN - JULY 03: Tyler Reddick, driver of the #8 3CHI Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Kwik Trip 250 at Road America on July 03, 2022 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Logan Riely | Getty Images

Especially in 2022.

Before Sunday, Reddick had finished runner-up twice this season alone — Bristol Motor Speedway (dirt) and Darlington Raceway. He had led laps in seven of the 17 races.

Then, with 17 laps remaining in the Kwik Trip 250 at Road America, Reddick passed 2020 champion and noted road-course expert Chase Elliott for the lead. He held it for the rest of the 62-lap event and captured the checkered flag by 3.304 seconds.

“Tyler doesn’t need a whole lot of cheerleading a lot of times,” crew chief Randall Burnett said. “Sometimes he gets down on himself a little bit and beats himself up if he makes a mistake. I think that’s the biggest thing with him is you’ve just got to keep him pumped up and let him know we can’t dwell on it, we’ve got to get on with it and go about our day.”

And Reddick, a 26-year-old from California, is maturing in that way.

Reddick entered the Cup Series after back-to-back Xfinity Series championships. He won eight races and two titles at the second-tier level between 2018-19. He then moved up to the top ranks and went winless in his rookie season.

“We got slapped in the face with the reality of what Cup racing is like,” Reddick said. “And just, I’ve had to learn a lot over the course of these last three years in the Cup Series as a driver. But I’ve had some really great people behind me to help me do that.”

RELATED: Top Road America finishers applaud Reddick

ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN - JULY 03: Tyler Reddick, driver of the #8 3CHI Chevrolet, and crew celebrate in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Kwik Trip 250 at Road America on July 03, 2022 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Sean Gardner | Getty Images

Each year, Reddick has shown overall improvement.

In his introductory season, Reddick averaged a 17.5 finish. He did not make the playoffs, placing 19th at the end. As a sophomore, he posted a 15.4 average. He qualified for the playoffs on points, checking out 13th. His highest result in both seasons was second.

As a junior, 18 races into the 36-race schedule of 2022, Reddick may hold a lower 17.3 average finish, but he boasts a career-high five top fives and punched a provisional playoff ticket thanks to his win with eight races left until the postseason even begins.

“I’ve watched Tyler since he was running the Trucks. He struggled a bit there, but he was always driving the trucks to their limit,” Childress said. “Then when he got in the Xfinity (cars) at JR Motorsports, he was the same. He drove. He’s got so much talent. He just pushes that limit every week.”

In 63 career starts from 2013-16, Reddick won three Camping World Truck Series races; he broke through in start No. 18. He has tallied 10 Xfinity Series wins from 2017-22, winning in his 15th start. Road America was technically his 92nd Cup Series start.

That makes Reddick one of 41 NASCAR drivers all-time to find success in all three of the sport’s national series.

And those who know him knew it was bound to happen.

“I told him (Sunday) morning,” Childress said, “ ‘You’re going to win this race.’ ”

Said Reddick: “He’s always had a lot of confidence in me.”