Winning back-to-back XFINITY Series championships for two different organizations will get a driver noticed, and for Tyler Reddick, his performance the last two seasons was enough to land him a full-time Cup Series ride with Richard Childress Racing in 2020. Reddick will replace Daniel Hemric in the No. 8 Chevrolet, and RCR is hoping the 23-year-old can become the future cornerstone of the organization.
Reddick isn’t afraid to be aggressive on or off the track, and the style made him one of the stronger passers in the XFINITY Series. Perhaps more importantly, he was able to do a much better job controlling his aggression in his second season in the XFINITY Series. In 2018, Reddick finished with two wins, seven Top 5s, 20 Top 10s and a 12.9 average finish. This past season, his final line included six wins, 24 Top 5s, 27 Top 10s and a 6.3 average finish.
I also like that he had a lot of success at the intermediate ovals that dominate the Cup Series schedule. Five of his nine XFINITY Series wins have come at track between one mile and two miles in length, and he logged 20 Top 5s and a 10.3 average finish in 41 starts at those tracks.
There is always a question mark about how a driver will transition from the XFINITY Series to the Cup Series, and with such a big difference between the rules packages in both series these days, predicting how a rookie will perform is tougher than ever. My bigger concern with Reddick is that he may revert to pushing the car too hard like he did in his first full season at the XFINITY level when he logged five DNFs and finished off the lead lap 11 times. It is something to watch for, especially early in the year.
In terms of track type, his numbers at short tracks were a notch below his numbers at the intermediate ovals. In 16 short track starts at the XFINITY level, Reddick notched just five Top 5 finishes and led a total of 80 laps. The competition doesn’t get any easier in the Cup Series, so he may need some time to hone his craft at the short tracks in particular.
We shouldn’t overlook the fact that Richard Childress Racing isn’t fielding elite equipment at the Cup level right now. However, a strong argument can be made that Reddick will immediately become the best driver in RCR’s stable. We’ve seen that Austin Dillon isn’t a talented enough driver to get anything extra out of his equipment, and when Reddick replaced Hemric at RCR at the XFINITY level, he significantly outperformed him. I expect the same result as he prepares to replace him in the Cup Series.
Last year, Hemric finished with a 22.5 average finish, two Top 10s and one Top 5 finish. Reddick should be able to contend for Top 20s on a weekly basis from Day 1, and he already showed Top 10 upside in spot duty last year, notching a ninth-place finish at Kansas in one of his two Cup starts. Look for Reddick to be at his best at the superspeedways and at bigger ovals where RCR seems to excel as an organization like Michigan, Auto Club and Pocono.
I don’t expect him to have the same ceiling as fellow rookies Christopher Bell or Cole Custer, but Reddick could end up being the steadiest performer of the trio in 2020. My expectation for him is an average finish of around 17th and a push for double-digit Top 10s. At worst, I expect Reddick to be a solid lower-priced option in season-long, salary cap formats this year. He should also be a useful option in contests that tier drivers into different groups. At the DFS sites, he is going to be a qualifying-dependent, track-specific option.