Seven Things to Watch for at NASCAR’s Road America Xfinity Series Wochit, Wochit
Tyler Reddick is getting more comfortable with all this left-right-left stuff NASCAR throws at Xfinity Series drivers in August.
Just remember, it wasnât so long ago that he was turning right to go left.
âFor sure, just about everything I did and learned in racing on dirt, I pretty much had to unlearn and just redo the game plan at every style of asphalt racing Iâve had to do since,â Reddick said.
His family moved to Illinois when Reddick was 12 so he could race sprint cars and late models on dirt and then to North Carolina to pursue NASCAR. Now heâs the reigning champion in a series that includes three road courses in a span of four weekends culminating this weekend at Road America.
âNormally on a dirt track, (the rear of the car is) hung out, youâre trying to find side-bite,â Reddick said. âObviously on asphalt you try to keep the car as best in the line as you can, because thatâs where you make grip.â
On dirt, drivers essentially steer the car through the corners with the throttle in a semi-controlled power-slide.
âTurning left to go left instead of turning right to go left, that kind of deal, was just part of (the learning). … The races are much longer; the speeds are much higher. When you make a mistake on a dirt track, you give up a couple of feet, and when you make a mistake on an asphalt track, you give up a couple race cars (worth of track) or find yourself in the wall.â
Or, in the case of this stretch of the schedule, in the grass. While that hurts a lot less, it still can do a number on a driverâs championship hopes.
The Xfinity Series weekend at Road America, the rolling 4-mile course in Elkhart Lake, starts with practice at 12:35 p.m. Friday. Qualifying is set for 10:40 a.m. Saturday and the CTech Manufacturing 180 for 2 p.m. Saturday.
Reddick, 23, raced part-time in Xfinity in 2017 with no road-course starts. He went full time in 2018 and had two of his worst finishes of the season at Mid-Ohio (31st) and Road America (34th).Â ReddickâsÂ Road America odyssey included running off track in the rain and then being involved in another crash in practice, having a problem with a brake line in the race and bowing out just past midway.
Reddickâs fortunes have improved this season, with finishes of fifth at Watkins Glen and fourth at Mid-Ohio. Â Still, he has plenty to learn.
âJust knowing what limits of the car are and the tires and braking efficiently, thatâs something Iâve not been great at,â Reddick said. âA.J. Allmendinger (a Road America winner in Champ Car and the Xfinity Series) and Justin Haley have done a pretty good job of kind of directing me the way I need to and the way I approach that style of racing more efficiently and just more a complete race.â
Last week he was in the simulator, applying their lessons on braking and practicing his shifting on a virtual version of Road America. Interestingly enough, he then went out and roared through the field Friday on the Bristol, Tennessee, short oval for his fourth win of the season.
Although Reddick is in his sixth season as a NASCAR regular, he is still relatively inexperienced even compared to some of his younger competitors.
âI guess Iâm not really a rookie now. Iâve been doing this a while, so I should know what Iâm doing out there,â Reddick said.
âOnly six years ago, I think I only made three or four asphalt starts before I was racing in the truck series. So itâs crazy to think about the time Iâve been doing this now and just how much time has flown by.â
Contributing to Reddickâs perception of newness, perhaps, is the fact that he is racing for his third team in three Xfinity seasons, having moved from half-time with Ganassi in 2017 to full-time with JR Motorsports in 2018 to Richard Childress Racing this year. Â Previously he raced in the Camping World Truck Series.
Now Reddick is working toward a second straight title and trying to figure out what comes next.
âWe ended last year on a really high note allowed me to go through the offseason with a lot of confidence,â he said. âFeeling good about where I was going, stepping over to another big organization.
âAnd truly, honestly, you never know how well the yearâs going to kick off, but itâs like weâve all been working together before. We just took off, and weâve never skipped a beat from Day 1. That just makes the transition easy, especially when youâve done it before.â
Does another transition await Reddick in the near future? He has made two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup starts this season with Childress.
âA lot of people put a lot of effort into making that happen, and over the course of the last eight, nine months that Iâve been sitting up there Iâve really gotten to see it, and the teamâs capabilities, I think they could go out and do whatever they put their mind to,â Reddick said. âIâm excited to finish this (regular season) out and see what we can do in the playoffs.â