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Tyler Reddick is top Cup rookie so far -- but it hasn’t been easy

AUTO: FEB 12 NASCAR Cup Series - DAYTONA 500

DAYTONA, FL - FEBRUARY 12: Tyler Reddick, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro Caterpillar (8) during Daytona 500 Media day on February 12, 2020 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Like most NASCAR Cup rookies, Tyler Reddick knew it would be a difficult transition from success in the Xfinity Series to similar success in the top echelon Cup Series.

Reddick has a bit of an edge on many of his fellow Cup rookies this season, having won the last two Xfinity Series championships.

But for a guy who is used to wins or at least top-five finishes, moving up to the Cup level has had its challenges not just for Reddick but also all other members of the 2020 Cup rookie class. Still, Reddick has made the upgrade more successful than his counterparts, being the top finishing rookie in each of the last two races, including just barely missing a top-10 showing (he finished 11th) last Sunday at Fontana.

“It’s a huge jump,” Reddick said Friday during a media session at Phoenix Raceway. “I feel like what would have been battling for top two or three in the Xfinity side is what you’re dealing with when you’re just trying to get inside the top 15 (in Cup).

“(There are) a lot of good drivers. It’s pretty crazy. You have a lot of guys who are very successful that you’re racing around.

“It’s just tough. It’s just part of it. But it’s been a lot of fun and makes the racing fun and it’s really cool to race those guys. But still, even guys like them, they have bad days and we just have to capitalize on it and make the most of those days and try to get good finishes.

Heading into Sunday’s race at Phoenix, Reddick – at 23rd place – is the highest-ranked member of the Cup rookie class of 2020. John Hunter Nemechek is right behind in 24th, Cole Custer is 26th, Brennan Poole is 29th, Christopher Bell is 32nd and Quin Houff is 34th.

Breaking down how those six rookies have finished in the first three races:

* Daytona: Nemechek (11th), Poole (16th), Bell (21st), Reddick (28th), Custer (37th), Houff (39th).

* Las Vegas: Reddick (18th), Custer (19th), Nemechek (24th), Poole (29th), Houff (32nd) and Bell (33rd).

* Fontana: Reddick (11th), Custer (18th), Nemechek (25th), Poole (32nd), Houff (35th) and Bell (last place, 38th).

This Sunday, Reddick is looking to continue his upward climb in the final results , but knows that will be easier said than done.

“You’re probably going to out-run some good cars on days even when you aren’t running that good yourself,” Reddick said. “That just goes to show how tough it is.”

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