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Monday Morning Pit Box: Late Play by Kyle Busch, RCR Nearly Snags Win

Welcome to the latest edition of Monday Morning Pit Box, where we break down the critical calls that shape the outcome of each week’s race. We take a look through the minds of those on pit road and, at times, call atop race control as well.

Kyle Busch already having a win this season did not just lock him into the postseason and start his tenure at Richard Childress Racing on a strong note. It also paved the way for being able to take chances with nothing to lose. 

That’s where Sunday afternoon at Circuit of the Americas came in for the No. 8 team and crew chief Randall Burnett. Busch was not a backmarker on Sunday (March 26), but for the first two-thirds of things, was not what you would call a frontrunner either.

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Tyler Reddick Avoids Mayhem, Wins at COTA

All of that changed with 12 laps to go when the caution was displayed for a spin by Brad Keselowski. While many of the leaders pitted, Busch and his team opted not to, one of five to do so. Right away, Busch was among the top-three runners, instantly in a position to fight for the lead.

In the end, the call to keep Busch out paid richly, though not as much as a win would have. The dice roll resulted in a second-place finish, coming as a result of Burnett taking a risk that would not have been as likely had the No. 8 team not had a win in its back pocket.

NASCAR’s playoff format has reasons to dislike it, but the flexibility to take chances like we saw Sunday is one of its upsides. 

Allmendinger, Kaulig Racing Go Old School

Usually, a 34th-place finish is not much to celebrate. And if you ask AJ Allmendinger, it’s probably not something that much joy can be found about. 

If you look at his day before being caught up in a late accident, it’s a different story. That has everything to do with No. 16 crew chief Matt Swiderski kicking it old school when radio issues hampered Allmendinger’s ability to communicate with his pit crew over the radio. With those issues, Allmendinger had no way of being told through his in-car communications when to pit. 

But in a move that fans of an era long-time ago (hopefully, I didn’t just make you feel too old), the team brandished the pit box to be held up and affixed it to let Allmendinger know how many laps until he should pit, a tactic largely used in past years. Thankfully, there was no infamous story, such as a driver seeing “P1” and confusing it for pitting in one lap instead of a team telling him his current running position.

No, the move did not generate the desired finishing result in the end, but the ingenuity from Kaulig Racing deserves a pat on the back. 

Sticking to Plan Pays Off for Reddick, No. 45

You had the feeling that Tyler Reddick had a good No. 45 Toyota when Sunday’s race began. Crew chief Billy Scott managed the race like 23XI Racing was very aware of that fact. 

Sunday’s race was full of different strategies. In Reddick’s case, there was no deviation from that due in part because there was no strategy needed to get the No. 45 near the front – Reddick was already there.

Sure, others opted to short pitting or running longer on tires or hoping that a caution would come out, but Scott never got away from what the plan in place was. To borrow a coaching saying, “keep the main thing the main thing.”

The No. 45 had a plan and stuck with it, and that focus helped Reddick find victory lane.

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