Previously on “As the World Turns with Richard Childress Racing,” presented by 3Chi ...
When we last saw the Richard Childress Racing clan, there was trouble in paradise.
RCR’s golden boy, Tyler Reddick, dropped a bombshell that “shocked” his racing family. Only weeks after the team popped champaign at Road America, Reddick was a surprise guest star on an episode of “Days of Our 23XI Racing Lives,” presented by Dr. Pepper.
Denny Hamlin dramatically revealed that Reddick would join its cast in 2024, 18 months away.
What did this mean for RCR’s future? Is Reddick’s job secure for 2023? Will Hamlin ever find out about his evil twin brother, Danny Hamlin?
Find out on this week’s episode of “As the World Turns with RCR ….”
*dramatic music, fade in*
Richard Childress strolled into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway media center on Sunday (July 31), a bottle of champagne in hand.
After a news-filled July that had elated then shook his race team, Childress was ending the month on a high note.
About an hour before, Tyler Reddick had held on in overtime to earn his second career NASCAR Cup Series victory and his second in five races.
Why was this a big deal?
For Childress, 2022 is the first time his Cup team has earned multiple wins in a season with one driver since 2013, the final season of the Kevin Harvick era. It is also the first time RCR has won more than once period since 2017.
Despite wins in the Coca-Cola 600 (2017), the Daytona 500 (2018) and at Texas Motor Speedway (2020), RCR’s Cup operation had more or less been lost in the wilderness for almost a decade.
Was RCR “back”?
“The doors have been open, the lights have been on, but we haven’t been competitive,” Childress said. “But it feels great to come to a racetrack and know you’re going to be one of the teams that’s going to be racing for the win.”
That surge in competitive edge has seen RCR’s duo of Reddick and Austin Dillon combine for 10 top fives and 16 top 10s through 22 races.
But the brunt of RCR’s success over the last two seasons has been produced by Reddick. In 2021, Reddick had three top fives and 16 top 10s, compared to Dillon’s one top five and eight top 10s.
For two seasons, RCR has steadily built toward a return to relevancy.
Now the backbone of that effort has an end date after Reddick’s surprise 23XI Racing announcement two weeks ago, made from a hotel conference room in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, soon after he told RCR about his future, according to Hamlin on this week’s episode of “Door Bumper Clear.”
Reddick joined RCR in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2019 and won a championship. Now Reddick will depart the team after four seasons in Cup at the end of 2023.
Not that Childress is upset about it or anything.
When FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass asked Childress after Sunday’s race about the situation, Childress brought up the last time his best driver made a deal with another team well ahead of time.
“Kevin Harvick and I sat down and talked when he was leaving for a couple of hours and made our joint press conference, and this didn’t happen like (that),” Childress said, apparently forgetting that Harvick’s deal was leaked in the media and that he wasn’t happy about it.
Childress later shared his mindset in the immediate wake of Reddick’s announcement on July 12.
“I thought about it a lot that night, gave it a lot of thought, and it’s more than just about one person,” Childress said. “It’s about a team. Stayed up most of the night thinking about what I should do, how I wanted to handle it.
“I went in the next day and told the whole team it wasn’t a perfect circumstance the way it went down, but we’re going to give it everything we’ve got this year, and we’ll see where we go next year.”
That was … an open ended statement.
Even before Sunday’s race, when asked by one reporter whether Reddick would still be in the No. 8 next year, Childress responded by saying he’d be in “a” car.
Hours later, in his winner’s press conference, Childress was pressed on whether Reddick would indeed be driving the No. 8 car come February.
“Yeah, Tyler will be in the car at RCR next year,” Childress answered.
When Reddick arrived for his portion of the winner’s press conference, the 26-year-old, in passing, may have offered insight on whether he felt his job next year was secure.
“I’m really happy about [winning at Indy], and hopefully I’ll be racing here again next year — well, I should be, I guess. I should be racing here next year. But hopefully winning again next year.”
Sunday marked 20 days since Reddick’s announcement. Reddick said in those 20 days he and Childress “haven’t really spoke much.”
That had to make for an awkward victory lane celebration, right?
“We got to […] kiss some bricks, drink some champagne (and) drink some beers,” said Reddick, who added that he told Childress he was “glad to add to his Brickyard collection of rings and wins. He’s already had a couple of them before me, and I’m glad to help add to that.”
Reddick is hopeful that his win “smooths some things over.”
“I’ve told him that as long as I’m racing here, I’m going to do everything I can to win races for this team, and I would love to win a championship or two with this team. I’m going to be more committed.”
Still in his mid-20s, Reddick looks at his situation as “I don’t have all the time in the world to figure out how to be a better driver.
“I need to be better now so we can go out and win as many races as possible together.”
*Dramatic music, fade out*
Thank you for watching “As the World Turns with RCR.” Up next is the newest installment of “All My Trackhouse Racing Children,” presented by Worldwide Express.
2022 is Daniel McFadin’s ninth year covering NASCAR, with six years spent at NBC Sports. This is his second year writing columns for Frontstretch. His columns won third place in the National Motorsports Press Association awards for 2021. His work can also be found at SpeedSport.com. And you can hear more from him on his podcast.
About the author
Daniel McFadin is a 10-year veteran of the NASCAR media corp. He wrote for NBC Sports from 2015 to October 2020. He currently works full time for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and is lead reporter and an editor for Frontstretch. He is also host of the NASCAR podcast "Dropping the Hammer with Daniel McFadin" presented by Democrat-Gazette.
You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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