Playoff contender Tyler Reddick feels he got lucky

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - AUGUST 28: Ross Chastain, driver of the #42 Clover Chevrolet, Chase Briscoe, driver of the #14 Mobil 1 Ford, Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Off Road Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Unibet Ford, Tyler Reddick, driver of the #8 Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen Chevrolet, Daniel Suarez, driver of the #99 CommScope Chevrolet, Tyler Reddick, driver of the #8 Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen Chevrolet, Justin Haley, driver of the #77 FOE Chevrolet, are involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on August 28, 2021 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Tyler Reddick is glad at least some of the pressure is off of him now. In the weeks leading up to the final race the NASCAR Cup series regular season, Reddick held one of final Playoff spots in the 16-driver field. His nearest rival has been his Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon.

The pressure was on both drivers Saturday night and even more so when Reddick was involved in a multicar crash on lap 147, one of three in the final laps, after which his Chevrolet started leaking fluid on the track forcing NASCAR to throw a red flag for cleanup that lasted nearly 15 minutes.

Dillion was unable to take advantage of Riddick’s misfortune as his Chevy suffered electrical issues late in the going. He was then swept up in final crash and scored 18th. Reddick held on to finish fifth and take the final Playoff spot.

“I didn’t get nervous till Stage 3 there on a restart that I thought was coming,” Reddick said. “But he did a really good job of matching the move with Chase Elliott going three-wide on the bottom and we lost all the track position that we gained there in Stage 2. From that point on we had the cycles and the cautions that came when we got collected in that accident with 15 to go.

“Yeah, that is when the nerves kind of shot up because the car is crashed, we were out of the draft, and not really sure what was going to happen. We caught a caution and fortunately got through that last crash. Even more fortunate than that was that Ryan Blaney was able to win and if you look at the guys from third to myself, if any of those guys win but Blaney, we are having a different conversation.”

During the caution, before NASCAR red flagged the race, there was smoke pouring out of Reddick’s Chevy. He said he wasn’t concerned though.

“Well, once the vitals on the dash showed everything was fine, me personally, I wasn’t worried,” he said. “It was a matter of getting the oil that was trapped or stuck…..just a matter of time for it to just work its way out of the car and to stop looking like we were having all kinds of leaks.  That is when NASCAR thought we still had a leak. Technically our engine was good, and we didn’t have any leaks. We just had some fluid lying around from the accident.”

Reddick is a two-time NASCAR Xfinity series champion, but he said the pressure he has been going through in the Cup series leading up to the Playoffs can’t really compare.

“Almost more than the Xfinity Series Championship honestly because you have so many drivers that were in the top 15 that could win and change everything for our year,” he said. “So yeah, a lot of nerves running right there and getting through that crash somehow like we did and getting the finish and crossing the line and whatnot. Still got (fifth) and we got lucky.”