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April 24, 2024

Dover Turning Point: Tyler Reddick’s Talladega momentum more than meets the eye


Here’s what’s happening in the world of NASCAR with Talladega in the rearview and Dover (Sun., 2 p.m. ET, FS1) right around the corner.

THE LINEUP ️

1️⃣ Reddick’s ‘Dega momentum more than meets the eye

2️⃣ Can Truex regain footing with hometown trip to Dover?

3️⃣ Up on his lid: Corey LaJoie breaks down Talladega tumble

4️⃣ The Next Generation of Dover dominators?

5️⃣ Catch the pack — news and notes from around the garage

Tyler Reddick sprays Monster Energy in Victory Lane after winning at Talladega.
James Gilbert | Getty Images

1. Tyler Reddick’s Talladega roundup adds to momentum ahead of Dover

Superspeedway wins aren’t always indicative of success elsewhere, but Reddick’s victory may say otherwise.

Neither Tyler Reddick nor Toyota have to worry any longer about being winless on the superspeedways. Not after Reddick’s masterful wreck avoidance on the final lap — and exceptional late-race positioning — scored him a critical win last Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Don’t mistake this victory as some fluke triumph, though. Reddick and the No. 45 team out of 23XI Racing have been putting themselves in position all year long to contend for a trip to Victory Lane.

Reddick has netted 60 stage points this season, enough to rank sixth-best in the Cup Series after 10 races, with his 14.24 average running position ninth-best, according to NASCAR’s loop data. Add in four top fives and seven top 10s in the first 10 events of the season and it’s no surprise that the 28-year-old California native is sitting fifth in points ahead of this weekend’s trip to Dover Motor Speedway (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

MORE: Kyle Petty: ‘Jordan-esque’ performance nets Reddick the win

Reddick has proved he can compete at any track type on the NASCAR schedule, with victories at road courses (Circuit of The Americas, Road America, Indianapolis), intermediates (Texas, Kansas) and now superspeedways (Talladega).

Perhaps the only question remaining is how well he and his team can carry their new-found momentum forward. On the heels of five straight top-10 finishes, Reddick shifts to Dover, where he has just two top-10s in five starts, but both coming in his past three Dover starts. Reddick’s name could — and maybe should — be among the favorites in the weeks to come after Dover. He won the Cup Series’ most recent race at Kansas Speedway last fall to propel forward in the playoffs and led 90 laps en route to a runner-up finish in last year’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, which served then as the postseason opener.

One thing is for certain: Talladega is far from representative of any future success on the Cup circuit for the next three months. But a hint of momentum for Reddick, crew chief Billy Scott and the rest of their No. 45 team could spell trouble for the rest of the field chasing Toyota’s Joe Gibbs Racing and Chevrolet’s Hendrick Motorsports.

Martin Truex Jr. looks on from pit road.
James Gilbert | Getty Images

2. All eyes on the hometown hero heading to Dover?

Martin Truex Jr. has nothing to worry about as he sits second in points. But recent results leave more to be desired.

It feels like the last thing anyone should be concerned about is the performance level of Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 19 team over at Joe Gibbs Racing. The 2017 Cup Series champion is second in points, just 15 behind Kyle Larson for the standings lead, and has five top-10 finishes through the season’s opening 10 races.

And yet … the final leaderboards have not quite favored Truex. Since finishing fourth at Richmond Raceway in late March, Truex has finished 18th (Martinsville), 14th (Texas) and 11th (Talladega).

Context, of course, is key: Truex was pushing Tyler Reddick into the tri-oval on the final lap at Talladega and happened to be a victim of the Big One instead. He still salvaged his day with a reasonable finish after leading 16 laps despite collecting zero stage points. His average running position across the season has also been nearly flawless — a second-best 10.97, only behind teammate Denny Hamlin (10.17).

RELATED: Truex’s career through the years

Momentum has come in waves for the No. 19 team over the past two years. Truex and crew chief James Small went winless in 2022 and missed the playoffs thanks to that year’s numerous victors, even though Truex ended the regular season sitting fourth in the standings. Last year, Truex scored the Regular Season Championship with three trips to Victory Lane, but the No. 19 team fell apart in the postseason with just two top 10s across the final 10 races, ousted from title contention after the Round of 8.

A trip back to Dover Motor Speedway — the 1-mile concrete oval that sits approximately a 150-mile drive southwest of Truex’s native Mayetta, New Jersey — may be exactly what the 43-year-old needs. The four-time Dover winner scored his most recent Monster Mile triumph last year, breaking a 54-race winless spell.

There are no doubts Truex has every bit the speed to crack into Victory Lane — and was cruising to do so at Richmond after leading 228 laps before a late-race caution sent the race to overtime. But can he and the team right the ship before momentum dips too low?

3. Up on his lid: Corey LaJoie breaks down Talladega tumble

Corey LaJoie and Skip Flores go inside the No. 7 Chevrolet and relive LaJoie’s last-lap crash at Talladega that sent LaJoie upside down.

4. Who are the Next Generation of drivers at Dover?

Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. are the two racers who have won at the Monster Mile since the debut of the Next Gen car. But who else has found themselves among the mix in Delaware? A look at those contenders, with stats provided by Racing Insights:

Most laps inside the top five at Dover in the Next Gen car

DriverLaps inside the top five
Ross Chastain613
Martin Truex Jr.480
Ryan Blaney442
Denny Hamlin410
William Byron308
Chase Elliott304
Christopher Bell245
Kyle Busch207
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.157
Alex Bowman133

5. Catch the pack — news and notes from around the garage

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Martin Truex Jr. takes the checkered flag to win at Dover.
Tim Nwachukwu | Getty Images
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