Following the Fire Keepers Casino 400 at Michigan, Tyler Reddick‘s No. 45 team looked to have a car yet again in contention for a win. As they have a number of times this year – either by driver or crew – they threw away yet another strong finish with little to show for it. Given the consistent struggles the team has endured, is it time to make some changes within the team to address these re-occurring problems?
This week Frank Velat and Wyatt Watson weigh the pros and cons in 2-Headed Monster.
Time for a Rebuild in 23XI’s Pit Crew
The woes surrounding 23XI Racing’s pit crew have continued since its inception, and following their latest foul up at Michigan on Monday, it’s time for a full change in staff for those that go over the wall for both the Nos. 23 and 45.
23XI’s pit crew has potentially cost itself three wins to fall through their hands this season, the first coming at Nashville Superspeedway. Reddick, who won stage one during the Ally 400, came down for a green flag pit stop while running inside the top five. He had to return to pit road a second time, and on his way, he lost a wheel and spun. This caused Reddick to finish 30th on a day that could have seen the No. 45 team earn its second win of the season.
Fast-forward to Richmond Raceway. Bubba Wallace came down pit road during the first green-flag pit stop cycle. The jack was dropped on the right-side tires before they were ever tight. Even though the RFK Racing drivers of Chris Buescher and Brad Keselowski ended up dominating the field in the end, Wallace could have kept more track position and could’ve been in a position to win in the final restart of the race.
Wallace has seen these issues with his pit crew play out multiple times since 2022, and the problems in regard to his crew still haven’t changed.
Finally, we come to last Monday (Aug. 7) where Reddick was running second with Buescher coming to the money stop. Reddick made it off pit road ahead of Buescher, but what does Reddick’s crew do? Left a rear wheel loose – the same thing they did in Nashville – despite having to wait on fuel to complete the stop without rushing things. Reddick had enough of it and let his team know about it over the team radio.
That’s not to say Reddick has been blameless as well. He’s had his share of missteps, such as his commitment line violation at Richmond, which resulted in a pass through penalty.
To come to think of it, in terms of its pit crew, 23XI is the Ferrari Formula 1 team of NASCAR. When it comes to the track with a fast car, it seems to find a way to choke the race away.
It has been long overdue for 23XI to make a full sweep of its over-the-wall teams. With the playoffs looming, it might make sense to do something to refocus within the organization, as these consistent lapses in details are conspiring to deny them race wins and playoff positioning on almost a weekly basis. Hopefully, soon it can figure out their next step in improving that side of its team so it can continue to compete for wins. – Wyatt Watson
Heads Don’t Necessarily Need to Roll
When things start going wrong in any sport, the knee-jerk reaction is always to do something. Front office shake ups, leadership changes, position adjustments all in a feeble attempt to save face. But sometimes making changes for the sake of doing “something” isn’t necessarily going to help.
After all, the year is not lost for Reddick and company. He does have a win at Circuit of the Americas so the playoffs are already a non-issue. He has a pole and nine top-10 finishes. While he did crash out of the first two events this season, he’s finished 20 of the next 21 races.
It’s also not as if Reddick experienced a significant fall off from last year. In 2022, while he won three times, Reddick had 12 finishes of 28th or worse. What exactly is the expectation of a new driver on a fairly new team? Anyone who had 23XI as a championship threat should have tempered their expectations to a more realistic level.
Not to mention that was with Richard Childress Racing, so it’s a little tough to pin many of the poor results on his pit crew when they aren’t even the same people this year. Every team struggles from time to time. The No. 45 group is no different.
The over the wall gang may be a convenient scapegoat, but it’s a little early to kick the whole gang out the door. – Frank Velat
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