No time for RCR, Tyler Reddick to look back; focus turns to track
LOUDON, N.H. — While car owner Richard Childress has not spoken publicly about Tyler Reddick signing this week with 23XI Racing for the 2024 season, RCR driver Austin Dillon raised questions about how the announcement could impact Reddick’s team.
Richard Childress Racing has not commented since it issued a statement Tuesday that read in part: The “timing of this announcement could not be any worse.”
Dillon repeated that claim Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and explained the challenges he sees for Reddick’s team.
“I think the biggest thing, for all the hard work and effort that your guys put in for you, it can affect you going into the playoffs, even though you say it’s not going to,” Dillon said. “There’s probably an effect that goes on there. On top of the fact you’ve got sponsors and different things during the year. That’s tough.
“Is there a good time? I’m sure that’s what they’re going to say, is there ever a good time?
“For our side of it, yeah, there’s probably a better time — when the season is over. Then you talk about it and you figure out the best way to move forward. Midseason, everybody is really focused on trying to win races and that can be tough.”
Reddick reiterated Saturday his commitment to Richard Childress Racing and through the 2023 season. He’ll start 13th in Sunday’s Cup race (3 p.m. ET on USA Network).
“The good thing is I’ve got plenty of time left to continue to do what I wanted to come to RCR and do,” Reddick said. “That’s win races and try to put ourselves in contention … for championships. I’ve got a really good team behind me, and I am behind them.”
Dillon said he called Reddick after the announcement and told him: “I’ve enjoyed working with you, congratulations on your new deal.”
Dillon said that Reddick “made it real adamant, me and him are going to push each other the rest of our time together trying to win races at RCR.”
Denny Hamlin, co-owner for 23XI Racing, said Saturday that the team is not looking to have Reddick drive for the team next year. Childress previously picked up the option on Reddick’s contact for next season.
Kurt Busch said Saturday that his plans haven’t changed beyond next season because the team signed Reddick.
Hamlin says the No. 45 car is Busch’s for as long as he wants.
“It makes me smile and want to race harder and work harder,” Busch said of Hamlin’s comments. “There’s still plenty of options that we’re looking at.”
While there are many other things for 23XI Racing to figure out — how many cars it will have in 2024, who will be Reddick’s sponsor and crew, etc. — Reddick also faces the possibility of having to repair his relationship with Childress.
Kevin Harvick knows what that can be like.
News came out late in the 2012 season that Harvick would drive for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, leaving him one last season with RCR — a team that brought him to NASCAR and had put him in a Cup car since 2001.
While Harvick went on to win four races and finish third in his final season with Richard Childress Racing, things weren’t always smooth with Childress.
Harvick said it took “probably a couple of years just to really have good, meaningful conversations” with Childress.
“There were definitely a couple of things I would have done differently,” Harvick said. " I still went into Richard’s office and told him myself, and we had a firm understanding where everybody stood with everything and understood the contracts and situations that were out of bounds. That was really the hardest part. I knew I needed to tell him myself in person.”
What was that like?
“It was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been in my entire life,” Harvick said.
He said it proved meaningful to talk to Childress.
“That, to me, was the most important thing, that I look back on now that I did right and be able to go back and repair those emotional situations and be able to have a good relationship as you go forward,” Harvick said.
“In this garage, you always want to be able to have those relationships because you might go back and have to drive that car or work for that person, you never know, what the scenarios are.”