It seems like a recurring theme in this column is me coming back to the next generation of stars in NASCAR, the young 20-something-year-olds who are going to take the racing world by storm.
You can loop Tyler Reddick in that group, too. Heck, he’s the defending champion for goodness’ sake. Maybe, just maybe, the Corning, Calif., native is better than his counterparts.
But where’s the love for Reddick?
The dude has won four Xfinity races, finished inside the top five almost 30% of his races and finished inside the top five in over half. And in last year’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the underdog who virtually had no chance ripped the top all the way to a championship.
Sure, he was driving JR Motorsports equipment. But Bell was wheeling a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and Reddick beat him straight up.
This season, he’s finished outside the top 10 once and the top five twice. He’s been the most consistent driver across the board and currently is in command of the points standings.
Yet he gets no love. And his social media game is A1; he’s been letting people know about it.
Uhm guys? ? I’m still here. ☹️ https://t.co/5ZpAW0u0iF
— Tyler Reddick (@TylerReddick) February 15, 2019
Uhm hey, it’s me again. What am I the redheaded stepchild you don’t want anyone to know about? https://t.co/m1xHagFZ7i
— Tyler Reddick (@TylerReddick) February 23, 2019
— Tyler Reddick (@TylerReddick) March 6, 2019
As sarcastic as those tweets were, they hold a lot of truth. In a series where personalities are developed, along with driver skill sets and fan followings, Reddick has done all three perhaps better than anybody. Yet there’s all this focus on the others.
The other aspect to all this is his team: Richard Childress Racing. Let’s face it: RCR is a long way away from its glory days of the mid-2000s. But this season in the Cup Series, things have been looking a tad better. Austin Dillon has shown more speed, and with the promise of young Daniel Hemric, the organization could be looking at a resurgence (with a little help) in the coming years.
Reddick could be the major puzzle piece yet to be connected at RCR. The dude can drive. And he’ll let you know he can.
I’m sorry, but if you look closely. The trophy says “Champion”. It doesn’t say “got lucky”. ? pic.twitter.com/uFGq4IpDo1
— Tyler Reddick (@TylerReddick) March 11, 2019
He isn’t the stereotypical-looking racecar driver. He’s short (like shorter-than-Justin Allgaier short. Ain’t nothing wrong with that!) and isn’t the clean-cut, positivity-driven, no-feathers-ruffled type of guy.
Following his first Cup Series start, Bubba Wallace wasn’t too pleased with Reddick. So, as you can probably guess by now, he fired back.
Let me go throw a short track brake package on my car for you. Anything else you need crybaby? ?? https://t.co/0sVYcDkvwb
— Tyler Reddick (@TylerReddick) February 18, 2019
But don’t worry, they’re all good.
Wellll shoot… Now that I have your blessing, maybe I’ll start working on my next cup start! ? https://t.co/NDjeuaiZFz
— Tyler Reddick (@TylerReddick) April 28, 2019
Reddick’s skill set was put on display this past weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, where he earned his first victory of the 2019 season. Slicing and dicing to block runs, slamming the wall, damaging his No. 2 Chevrolet, only to rebound back and wind up in Victory Lane.
I’m not saying he’s going to be the next Jimmie Johnson, but this kid isn’t going to flame out like, frankly, a lot of drivers do. He doesn’t have funding coming along with him through the ranks, but by God does he have a lot of talent.
Thankfully, it’s coming to the forefront of many people in the industry, fans, drivers, and teams alike. Reddick will be a championship threat once again when Miami rolls around in 2019.
And before you know it, he might just be moving on up. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so.
About the author
Davey is in his fifth season with Frontstretch and currently serves as a multimedia editor and reporter. He authors the "NASCAR Mailbox" column, spearheads the site's video content and hosts the Frontstretch Podcast weekly. He's covered the K&N Pro Series and ARCA extensively for NASCAR.com and currently serves as an associate producer for SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and production assistant for NBC Sports Washington. Follow him on Twitter @DaveyCenter.