Tyler Reddick is arguably the best road course driver in the NASCAR Cup Series. But with stage breaks returning at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, his hands were tied on strategy during Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400.
After winning the pole on Saturday, Reddick’s mission was clear: tally as many points as possible in the first two stages and earn the best finish possible. He entered the elimination race two points below Brad Keselowski for the final transfer spot.
By getting a sizable lead early, Reddick was able to lead flag-to-flag in the opening stage with no real challenge. Having to pit at the end of the stage meant the No. 45 Toyota would be mired deep in the field for the beginning of the second stage, restarting 23rd.
Quickly, Reddick raced his way into the top 15. When the next round of green flag pit stops began, Reddick shot up the leaderboard to fourth, second of drivers looking to secure points. Corey LaJoie and Josh Bilicki tangled while exiting the pits with two laps remaining in the stage to bring out the caution. Reddick earned seven stage points as Chase Elliott, who was about to hit pit road, and Denny Hamlin were still ahead of Reddick and unable to make a pit stop with pit road closed.
Compared to the start of the second stage, Reddick’s track position was even worse to begin the final half of the race. The No. 45 car restarted 28th, but made it look easy getting back to the top 20. With a host of late-race cautions, he picked off a few spots at a time to crack the top five.
“We executed for sure all day long,” Reddick said. “Selfishly, I wanted to go forward and win the race on top of it all. We were good, but I feel like we were just one of the other cars there at the very end, unfortunately.
“It‘s hard to take any unnecessary risks when you‘re in a good spot to advance to the Round of 8. It just doesn‘t make sense to put it all on the line to try to win a race.”
Though he wanted to win, Reddick was satisfied leaving the Charlotte Roval with a fifth-place finish and advancing to the Round of 8 for the first time in his career. He wasn’t even the last driver to advance, leapfrogging both Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. by scoring 48 points during the race. Reddick finished the round 17 points above the elimination line.
With the points resetting to begin the Round of 8, Reddick is tied for the sixth seed, eight points below the elimination line. The series visits two of his best tracks in Las Vegas and Homestead-Miami, plus Martinsville, which is a place he’s put an emphasis of performing better on.
“I‘m liking it,” Reddick said of the Round of 8. “Vegas has been a track that has been good to me in my career. If we can‘t get it done there, we have Homestead-Miami right afterwards. Between those two, we ran top five — right around third — at Martinsville all day in the spring. I feel really good about all of those places.”
Reddick has never won in the Cup level at the three tracks that make up the next round, but he won two Xfinity Series championships by running against the wall at Homestead. He also has three top 10s in the last four races at Las Vegas.