• Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Reddick overcomes triple overtime, dominates COTA

ByBrenden Martin

Mar 26, 2023
Reddick celebrates

Sean Gardner | Getty Images

What was at one point a fuel mileage race in the final stage turned into a bloodbath that lasted three overtimes and ended with 23XI Racing No. 45 driver Tyler Reddick surviving all of them while staying up front to take the win in the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas.

Reddick earned his fourth career NASCAR Cup Series win and third on a road course. All four of his wins have come within the last nine months.

“It means the world,” Reddick said to Fox Sports’ Regan Smith. “This whole 23XI team has been working so hard all winter long to make the road course program better. I was extremely motivated and prove that performance too.”

Reddick avoided all the carnage by staying on the inside lane on restarts. The final restart sealed the deal as he pulled away when Richard Childress Racing No. 8 driver Kyle Busch got plowed into Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 driver Alex Bowman on Reddick’s outside.

Bowman came almost out of nowhere to earn his second straight podium finish at COTA.

“I’m not the greatest road course racer,” Bowman told Fox Sports’ Jamie Little. “So to come run top five here again means a lot.”

Reddick was the fastest car in practice and started on the front row with Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 driver William Byron. The two duked it out up to the overtimes, but Reddick turned his three-stop pit strategy from being behind into a winning strategy.

The two led a combined 69 of the total 75 laps run including the three overtimes.

“It was really fun,” Byron told Smith. “They were great all weekend. Tyler has been great at the road courses and we made it a battle for sure. I hate that it kind of got down to restarts at the end.”

COTA provided a preview of what was to come on the opening lap when a caution on the opening lap took out Legacy Motor Club No. 84 Jimmie Johnson, who was making his first start since the Daytona 500.

Johnson’s team could not beat the damage vehicle policy clock and had to retire the car in 38th place.

The first stage had a lot of clean driving between drivers, but not very clean driving when it came to running on the track itself. Multiple drivers were called for cutting the track at the esses, a spot that drivers were told would result in a penalty if all four tires went below the chicane.

Drivers such as Team Penske No. 22 driver Joey Logano, No. 11 driver Denny Hamlin, Spire Motorsports No. 7 driver Corey LaJoie and more were called for cutting the esses in the first stage alone.

An added wrinkle in this race was the introduction of a new rule where there would be no breaks in between stages on all road courses this year, which turns the general strategy of pitting right before a stage to get track position back on its head.

A taste of what no stage breaks look like was offered before the end of Stage 1 when a second caution came out for HMS No. 5 driver Kyle Larson, who had a miserable day at the track. 23XI Racing No. 23 driver Bubba Wallace hit him hard off a turn and ended his own day.

Larson got going again, but Hamlin spun him as he tried to make it to pit road.

With a few laps before the end of the stage, Reddick elected to pit and give up the stage win to Byron. The No. 45 team went to a three-stop strategy that looked like it would not work in their favor, but Reddick’s pure speed made up for the lost time.

Byron won the stage on a restart, crossing the line first for his 16th career stage win.

Reddick began cruising back toward the front, getting back in the top 10 in just five laps. Byron, on a two-stop strategy, ran his car until he needed to get fuel. He brought Kaulig Racing No. 16 AJ Allmendinger and Trackhouse Racing No. 99 Daniel Suárez to pit road with him on Lap 25. Reddick cycled back to the lead but knew he needed to pit twice more and Byron just once after he came out.

The sacrifice of Stage 1 worked for Reddick as he took the Stage 2 win without any trouble, and once again the new rule showed its teeth as the race stayed green after Reddick got his free 10 points and one playoff point.

Reddick pitted right after he got his stage points with a 19-second lead, bringing Byron to the front again. The fresher tires kept working for Reddick however, as he caught right back up to the No. 24 car by Lap 39.

The fuel mileage dash became a reality when a caution came out for a large amount of dirt coming onto the track at Turn 8. Multiple cars went spinning if they hit the dirt at a certain line, forcing NASCAR to clean it up. The caution came right at the fuel window, meaning teams could make it to the end of the race after an ensuing stop.

The fuel window going into the race was about 23 green flag laps. The restart came with 25 laps to go. Teams could stretch the window to make it to the end, but that would require a lot of fuel saving and slowing down.

Both Reddick and Byron were told they were about one lap short on fuel while the Trackhouse cars of Suárez and No. 1 driver Ross Chastain were told they were good on fuel and could push.

The entire Cup garage let out its first breath in about 45 miles when Roush Fenway Keselowski No. 6 driver Brad Keselowski brought out a caution with 12 laps to go for a broken axle he sustained a few laps earlier when making contact with JTG Daugherty No. 47 driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Teams did not dare test their fuel and tires as most cars came for service under caution.

The wreck fest began then and there. Chastain took heavy damage going into Turn 1 with nine laps to go but somehow managed to finish fourth at the track he earned his first career Cup win at last year.

“When we got spun I think we restarted down at Niece Equipment south of town,” Chastain told Smith. “To come back to a top five was an incredible effort for our Worldwide Express team. I thought we were a top-five car all day.”

Byron and Reddick went back and forth for a presumed mad dash to the checkered flag that ultimately got delayed by three more cautions. The first came due to debris off of RCR No. 3 driver Austin Dillon.

Another introduction to road courses was the choose rule, which was seen at all other types of tracks before this season. The choose cone proved costly for Byron, who took the outside next to Reddick and got shoved away from the lead at Turn 1, resulting in him falling to fifth by the end.

Double overtime came about due to debris again from Team Penkske No. 12 driver Ryan Blaney this time after he spun on Turn 1. Busch, the second-place car at the time, took the bottom of the second row behind Reddick at the choose next time.

In road course fashion, another caution brought the race to a third overtime when Suárez’s left front tire shredded off.

Reddick took the lead on each restart in overtime and ran a decent amount of the lap before a caution prevented him from taking the white flag.

The third and final overtime was certainly not wreck-free, a huge pileup clobbered JGR No. 20 driver Christopher Bell’s car, but he kept it running to make it to pit road and allow Reddick to make it to the final lap and the checkered flag right after that.

Kurt Busch, FOX Sports booth commentator and last year’s No. 45 driver for 23XI Racing, could not help but be emotional seeing his old car go to Victory Lane.

“I was hoping to be back in that car,” Busch said. “But it’s in good hands.”

Busch retired from full-time racing after suffering a concussion in the car last season.

Reddick won his first race since moving from RCR to 23XI last offseason and had to hold off his old No. 8 car to do it.

“Tyler is obviously a really good road racer,” Kyle Busch told Little. “I mean he proved it driving this car here last year. I was able to get in it and run right back to him so I’ve been trying to emulate the things that he did in order to make this car fast last year.”

The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season will head to Virginia next week for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway on Sunday, April 2 at 3:30 p.m. EST.

TV coverage of the race will be on Fox Sports 1 with radio coverage on Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

NOTE: Technical post-race inspection in the NASCAR Cup Series Garage is complete. No issues. 23XI Racing No. 45 driver Tyler Reddick is officially confirmed as the winner.

OFFICIAL RACE RESULTS:

Cup Race Results at COTA

OFFICIAL DRIVER POINT STANDINGS:

Cup driver points after COTA

OFFICIAL OWNER POINT STANDINGS:

Cup Owner Points after COTA

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