When thinking of Tyler Reddick’s 2022 season one might wonder whether the success experienced by the 26-year-old driver is more due to his talent as a driver or is it more due to the cars being provided to him by Richard Childress Racing. On Saturday afternoon this driver and team added another achievement when the Corning, California native placed his No. 8 Chevrolet on the pole for the upcoming South Point 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
That qualifying effort was Reddick’s third pole of the season. With that impressive number, the two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion has also scored three wins along with 10 top-five and 14 top-ten finishes in 2022. Those numbers rank among the best of all NASCAR Cup Series drivers.
Reddick made the NASCAR Playoffs but failed to move into the ‘Round of 8’. Even with that early elimination, it would seem as if numbers such as those mentioned above would provide reason for optimism for any driver and team leading into the next season. However, that will not be the case in 2023 for Reddick and RCR.
Earlier this year, it was announced that this driver would be leaving his team that brought him into the NASCAR Cup Series to join forces with the Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin co-owned 23XI Racing operation even though he still had a contract with RCR through the 2023 season.
A twisting set of circumstances, however, has expedited Reddick’s move to 23XI.
Kurt Busch, who drove the No. 45 Toyota for 23XI, has been sidelined since a crash in qualifying at Pocono left him with a concussion. The 2004 Cup Series champion formally announced his retirement just before Saturday’s qualifying session ay LVMS. That officially created an opening in the driver’s seat of that car.
Further, the parting of ways between Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing led to that two-time Cup champion signing with RCR for the 2023 season to drive the No. 8 Chevy. All the pieces are now fitting neatly into place so that we know for sure that Reddick will be driving the No. 45 Toyota next year.
But did Reddick make the right move by jumping from the RCR ship for 23XI?
The bar is set fairly high in terms of the numbers Reddick will need to match next season to make his move look like a good one. But doing that appears to within the realm of possibility considering the success achieved in 2022 by the team he will drive for next season.
In his 20 starts during his only season as the driver of the No. 45, Kurt Busch won the race at Kansas Speedway as part of a 5 top-five and 8 top-ten season prior to his injury. Xfinity Series regular Ty Gibbs began driving that car following Busch’s injury(numbered as No. 45 then later as No. 23) adding one more top-ten finish so far.
The car Reddick will drive in 2023 is capable of winning but is it capable of winning and running up front as often as the RCR ride he has wheeled this season has?
Prior to this season, many thought that 23XI was a team on the rise while RCR had become stagnant. While 23XI may very well be a team on the rise, RCR seems to have refuted that belief. Not only has Reddick won three times but teammate Austin Dillon also won a race and made into the Playoffs.
Again, the question of whether Reddick has lifted the organization or has the organization risen with Reddick riding the wave is worthy of consideration. If Reddick has in fact lifted RCR, then it would stand to reason that he and the rising 23XI will make a great fit. If RCR has in fact stepped up its game, then Reddick may not have made a positive gain by switching teams.
Only time will tell the story. But because of Kurt Busch’s retirement and Kyle Busch’s move to RCR, those answers will come one year sooner than was originally planned.
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Richard Allen has been covering NASCAR and other forms of motorsports since 2008.
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