With back-to-back Xfinity titles, Tyler Reddick enters 2020 with a psychological advantage over his Rookie of the Year competitors: he’s beaten them in head’s up competition both years.
Reddick has another advantage in that he is accustomed to winning. Since joining NASCAR fulltime in 2015 in the Truck Series, he has never failed to win in one of NASCAR’s top divisions. He earned two wins in 2015 in Trucks and added another in 2016.
Driving only 18 of the 33 races in the 2017 Xfinity No. 42 for Chip Ganassi, he won at Kentucky.
In 2018, he won two races and claimed one of the most interesting storylines of the year. He won the season opening Daytona 500 driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and kept his team in the hunt for the rest of the year. He qualified for the playoffs but never visited Victory Lane again until the season finale, when he went to the high side at Homestead and won the championship.
The 2019 season was by far his best. He won six races including the finale again at Homestead to give him a second Xfinity championship. His other wins came at Talladega, Charlotte, Michigan, Bristol, and Las Vegas – providing the type of record that suggests he will be good on a variety of tracks.
Look for Reddick to follow his ex-CGR teammate in practice with some regularity because both of them like to rim ride. Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will have someone else to help them work in an upper groove.
With a championship to his credit, Childress fielded a third entry in a couple of races for Reddick in 2019. He ran well in the Daytona 500 but was ultimately sidelined by an accident. In Week 12, he took the No. 31 to a top-10 finish in only his second Cup start at Kansas.
RCR has an interesting opportunity ahead. Despite unsatisfactory results, Hemric won ROTY honors last year and Reddick can give the organization back-to-back titles. Bell has more wins in the last two years, but Reddick beat Bell and Cole Custer in the last two championship races. That will have made a lasting impression on his rivals.
The No. 8 team finished 25th in points last year. With a much fiercer rookie battle to spur him on, Reddick should finish higher in the standings. In fact, it is not out of the question that Reddick might keep his five-year winning streak alive and if a victory comes along during the regular season he is going to be among the Top 16.