23XI Racing announced Saturday that Tyler Reddick will drive for the team starting next season, getting a jump on a deal that was originally set to start with the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series campaign.
Richard Childress Racing released a statement Saturday that confirmed the two sides have reached an agreement, releasing the 26-year-old driver from his obligation to the No. 8 Chevrolet team for next season. Reddick will drive the No. 45 Toyota for the Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin-owned team next year.
— RCR (@RCRracing) October 15, 2022
Reddick will replace Kurt Busch, who announced he will not compete for a championship in a full-time role with the team next year. Busch joined the No. 45 team this season as part of 23XI Racing’s expansion to a two-car operation, but has missed the last 12 Cup Series races after sustaining a concussion in a crash during qualifying July 23 at Pocono Raceway.
Not long after Reddick’s future was officially announced, he wheeled his current ride to the pole for Sunday’s South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, another positive on an optimistic day for the current RCR racer.
“I’m really excited about next year, but there’s still a number of races left this year that I’m gonna continue to remain focused on and do everything I can for my team to run well and do well,” Reddick said. “But certainly it is nice to know, like, hey, this is what the future is going to hold. I’m going to get to go over there earlier than I planned and just start working on those things that myself and a lot of the ownership over there had talked about wanting to do and why we wanted to get together.”
23XI previously announced over the summer that Reddick would shift his allegiances to the Toyota-backed team in 2024, a move that had ripple effects in the NASCAR free agency market. At the time, Hamlin did not indicate which car Reddick would drive, or whether 23XI would expand to a three-car fleet with Reddick joining Busch and Bubba Wallace as teammates. “I watched him, I raced against him, I wanted him and I got him,” Hamlin said then, “and I didn’t know anything else that goes along with that.”
— Tyler Reddick (@TylerReddick) October 15, 2022
Saturday’s move firms up the Cup Series driver roster for both organizations. Reddick will team with Wallace, with Busch open to potential part-time duty in a possible third 23XI entry. RCR will move forward with the returning Austin Dillon and newcomer Kyle Busch, who Childress lured from Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota in a blockbuster deal that came together last month.
David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development, acknowledged what’s been a recent rocky road for the manufacturer, highlighted by Kyle Busch’s departure to Chevrolet. While Saturday’s announcement surrounding Kurt Busch was bittersweet, Wilson saw bright spots in the final resolution.
“This whole year has been a roller coaster for Toyota,” Wilson said. “We’ve been in the news cycle far too much. And in the first emotion [of Reddick’s arrival] is just relief. It’s like, ‘OK, I think we can focus on racing for a few weeks and not worry about the next announcement, not worry about the next question.’ And so just to have all that sorted has been a relief. Obviously, I think for Tyler and for all parties, this was the natural solution. It gives all of us a lot of peace of mind.”
Reddick was originally set to continue driving for RCR in 2023, but news of Kyle Busch’s contract muddied those waters with the two-time champion set to step into Reddick’s current No. 8 team.
As possible outcomes lingered for what his February looked like, Reddick never wavered, making Saturday’s announcement more straightforward for the two-time Xfinity Series champion.
“I don’t know if [the emotions had] really been that mixed because I mean I wasn’t going to be working with [crew chief] Randall [Burnett] and the team that I’ve worked with … some of the guys on the team for four-plus years,” Reddick said. “I was going to be starting with a new group, something new already. So I guess either way it would have went, I was going to be starting with people that I may not have the most time around, you know, so it was gonna be a new chapter I guess anyway.”
Reddick has enjoyed a breakout season amid all the uncertainty and shifting tides. His first three Cup Series victories (Road America, Indianapolis Road Course, Texas) have all come this year, his third with the Childress-owned team. Reddick was eliminated from the Cup Series Playoffs after the opening Round of 16.
Reddick joined RCR in 2019, claiming his second Xfinity Series championship that year before moving up to the Cup Series the following season. He won his first Xfinity Series title with JR Motorsports in 2018.
Contributing: Zach Sturinolo