Despite a meeting with the wall Tyler Reddick scores statement pole at Richmond

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA - JULY 29: Tyler Reddick, driver of the #45 Xfinity 10G Network Toyota, poses for photos after winning the pole award during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway on July 29, 2023 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Tyler Reddick will be at the front of the field for the first time this year in Richmond on Sunday.

It’s strong momentum for the 23XI driver after a second place at Pocono, who hasn’t had the results to show for his strong speed in qualifying.

“I’m really excited to be on the pole for the first time this year with 23XI. We’ve been really strong when we’ve had the opportunities to qualify this year, and it is nice to get that first pole as a team,” Reddick said.

It wasn’t a straightforward qualifying session Saturday by any means, though. The group qualifying format means Reddick had two attempts out on track, and he slapped the wall in his first round. But he kept his foot in it, and that time was good enough to advance to the second round.

“I think the real turning point for me was on lap one. I knew that lap was going to be really close and I kind of got out of shape out of turn four,” he said.

“I pretty much knew I was going to hit the wall, but I knew I wasn’t going to make the second round with that first lap. I stayed in it, hit the wall pretty good but was able to transfer into the second round with that first lap.”

Despite the damage, his team deemed the car fit to race tomorrow and will start on the pole. And that’s important, because starting up front at Richmond is important, since he detailed how it can be difficult to pass.

“I think once the run gets going it is going to be more difficult, but certainly at a place like this, where it becomes really frustrating very quick when you have to pass the same couple of cars frequently throughout the race – so having that number one pit stall, so we have that opportunity to have solid pit stops to leapfrog other cars that we will be racing around all day tomorrow is a huge, good opportunity for us,” he detailed.

Kyle Busch will start alongside Reddick, with Denny Hamlin starting third.

Fourth place Chase Elliott, who needs a strong performance to qualify for the Playoffs with just five races to go, wants the strong start to lead to a good run.

“I hope so,” he said. “I also know that this is a place that you can qualify really well and then run really bad.

“It’s encouraging, and I thought we made the car better today. But there’s a couple characteristics that I would like our car to have that we don’t have,” Elliott added.

Bubba Wallace will start fifth, rounding out the top five.

Starting Lineup

Photos: NASCAR at Richmond Raceway Saturday July 29, 2023

Owen Johnson