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CHEVY NCS AT HOMESTEAD: Tyler Reddick Teleconference Transcript

NASCAR CUP SERIES
HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY
DIXIE VODKA 400
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
FEBRUARY 26, 2021

TYLER REDDICK, NO. 8 CHEDDAR’S SCRATCH KITCHEN CAMARO ZL1 1LE, Media Teleconference Transcript:

HOW IMPORTANT IS HOMESTEAD THIS WEEKEND GIVEN IT’S ONE OF YOUR BETTER TRACKS?
“Extremely. But unfortunately, because of how bad of a start we’ve had like we really can’t go for broke. We can’t be aggressive because the first two races I think we’ve pretty much gotten like two points or something like that. So, me and Matt DiBenedetto and Ross Chastain are all in a really bad spot right now in points. And we just can’t let this slide continue because if it goes on much further, we’re going to be in a deeper hole three races in than it was at my worst right at the end of the regular season stretch before the Playoffs started. And that’s no way to start what’s supposed to be an improvement on my rough year.”

MENTALLY, HOW IS RUNNING DOUBLE DUTY FOR YOU THIS WEEKEND AT HOMESTEAD?
“For me, I don’t know how much I translate what I learn inside the car from Saturday to Sunday. But what I know is going to happen, regardless of where I’m running on Saturday, is I’m going to have a lot of fun and I’m going to understand the changes the track has had since last June when we ran there. It really did change a lot from November 2019 to June 2020. I expect a very similar, another big step in progression of the track surface kind of shifting and changing and aging as it continues to get older and older. I don’t know if it’s necessarily going to be more abrasive than it has been just as the weather has changed and it’s gone through seasons, the track just kind of changes. New bumps form. Certain seams split apart a little bit more. Some of that stuff changes. So, I’ll have that and understand that going into Sunday. But above all else, I’ll have a lot of fun racing the Xfinity car on Saturday. I’m not really trying to get anything crazy out of it to help me on Sunday other than just having a lot of fun and enjoying one of my favorite race tracks.”

WITH ROAD COURSES AND DIRT THIS YEAR, HAS SIMULATOR OVER THE YEARS FOR YOU BECOME SOMETHING MORE TO REALLY USE AS A TOOL?
“Well, with practice and qualifying and the multi-day shows disappearing for the most part, aside from a couple of weekends this year that we haven’t really experienced before, yeah you have to tap into your notebook You have to rely more on simulation to really get any kind of preparation as a driver and as a team going into a race. Without that you really don’t have any on-track time of any kind. And truly, it’s still not on-track time. It’s all through simulation. I really enjoy being able to do that work. It’s very important to treat it as realistic as possible; understanding we go to a place like Atlanta. You can’t arc it in every single lap and do all these crazy things next to the bottom and be able to have any good speed, really, in your car after 10 or 15 laps. So, you’ve really got to just make it as realistic as possible when you work on it. When you do unrealistic things, you’re going to have unrealistic expectations when you get to the race track.”

YOU SAID ON SOCIAL MEDIA YOU DIDN’T WANT TO BE REMINDED OF THAT LAST LAP AT HOMESTEAD. WHAT WAS IT LIKE AFTER THAT FOR YOU? HOW DID YOU HAVE TO EXPLAIN YOURSELF? I ASSUME YOU FELT EMBARRASSED.
“Yeah, it kind of stinks. We got very fortunate though that it didn’t cost me any spots, potentially. But definitely the move that I set-up on Blaney in what I thought was the final lap in (Turns) 3 and 4, I would have waited one more lap and got a little bit closer and maybe I could have gotten third out of it. Maybe I could have taken advantage of him and Chase racing and pass them both, who knows? But I didn’t lose any spots but yeah, it kind of was an unfortunate misunderstanding. It’s happened a few times. So that’s, I think, what bothers me more about it than anything. I think back to Bristol when I was racing with RCR on the Xfinity side, I thought the Stage ended a lap early and I let Justin Allgaier get by me and it cost me a Stage win. Eventually, it’s kind of in my mind what shifted our race and kept us from keeping and getting back to the lead. So yeah, it’s embarrassing when you do stuff like that, but fortunately I didn’t lose a spot and it could have been a lot worse. I could have pulled down pit road and finished last on the lead lap.”

SINCE IT HAS HAPPENED A FEW TIMES, DO YOU HAVE TO DO ANYTHING MENTALLY TO PREVENT IT FROM HAPPENING OR FOCUS ON IT?
“I think I’ve just gotten more and more comfortable and done more of this asphalt and this NASCAR racing that the potential for is I’ve let my guard down a little bit. Running short tracks growing up you’d almost just run an extra half a lap, or you’d run even after you think you’ve taken the checkered flag until you hear race control come over and start calling cars that need to go to scales and whatnot. Sometimes I think I hear things I don’t and that was the case. Derek was just saying it was one heck of a night and everyone did a good job and bring it back in one piece. So, I thought okay, the race is over; but obviously that was not the case. And then when I keyed up, I talked so long that everyone was trying to scream at me to go-go-go. I wouldn’t shut up. I didn’t hear him until I let go of the button on the steering wheel there.”

ON GETTING COMFORTABLE TRANSITIONING TO THE NASCAR CUP CARS
“The length of the race was actually a benefit for me because a lot of Xfinity races I always felt like one more stop and I’d get where I wanted to be. Obviously if you go back and look at it though, we had a lot of races where mid-way through the race it just kind of became unhinged and we would like of almost go the wrong way. I didn’t feel like that was due to just not being acclimated to the longer races, we would just make simple mistakes trying to make our car better and we already had it really close to where it needed to be. But those longer races, that can creep in. You may be at the best of what you’re capable of that day but we’re always wanting more. And sometimes we go too far, or we go the wrong way just trying to get more out of what’s not really there. So, you’ve just got to understand that and then just try to be as efficient as you can on pit road to either maintain or gain spots on pit road that way. But the length of the races and understanding how important pit road is, I feel like you could be 80 percent in the Xfinity Series and with the great pit crew like I had when I ran that series, you could really maintain on pit road and still gain spots. So, those would be the learning curves, I say.

“But mentioning the bodies on these Cup cars, I really wasn’t really too worried about that at Homestead. Granted I absolutely killed the fence when Christopher passed me a couple of years ago and it was able to hold together. But aside from running into the fence down the straightaway for whatever reason I did when I was right behind Cole before we had that battle there at the end of that race, one and a half years ago, I never really hit the fence in the Xfinity car that year. And in the Cup car I think I only maybe minorly scraped it once and I think it was when I jumped up in front of Chase and I got a pretty aggressive push. Other than that, the fence at Homestead hasn’t really been a problem for me. I’ve gotten real comfortable in understanding what my limits are and knowing where the right rear quarter panel is. But definitely, I heard all about it. You hit the fence in these Cup cars you day is over. You’ll keep cutting tires and whatnot. I think like what consider hitting the fence, and when I like scrape the fence, there’s a difference there because I’ve found there have been a few times I’ve hit the fence and thought oh, our day is done. And we just pull it back out. Yeah, we lose spots on pit road, but the problem never really re-occurs unless you absolutely just destroy the fence and hit it a bunch and knock the right front and right rears off. Then you see the tire issues.”

WITH MORE GUYS COMING FROM DIRT, DO YOU EXPECT THEM TO FAVOR THAT HIGH LINE GOING AROUND AT HOMESTEAD?
“Well, I think a lot of people after watching the championship race that year and a half ago on the Cup side, not a lot of guys really could make the fence work. Kyle Larson was really the only one that had a lot of speed up there. I think people were just saying, well it’s just Kyle. He can find speed doing it. And last year when we went back in June it was pretty obvious right away that a lot more guys were comfortable running right up against the fence; you know Chase and Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin didn’t have to but if he needed to, then he can, obviously. He’s showed that at Darlington and some of these other tracks. Kyle Busch knows how to run the fence, it’s no secret. So, I think these guys with this race that isn’t the Championship finale race, you’ll see guys being more aggressive and willing to take more risks. They definitely saw in this race we had six or seven months ago how much speed there is up there. So, more and more guys are going to be up there. But that’s going to open up the bottom and the middle and I’m all right with that too. We had a pretty good car pretty much all over the race track here six or seven months ago.”

YOU ARE STARTING IN THE BACK FOR BOTH RACES. HOW DIFFERENT IS YOUR APPROACH CONSIDERING THE DIFFERENT BODIES OF THE CARS AND THE WAY THEY DRIVE?
“Not much different. I think clean air is very important in these cars. And in the Xfinity cars you can run much closer to someone’s rear bumper, especially on the fence, than you can in a Cup car. It’s something that, you can run the fence by yourself, but you definitely have to be careful in dirty air. The car is just so much more unpredictable and has a lot less air pushing on the front of it to keep it stuck to the race track. So, obviously I think you can get away with a couple of scrapes, you know, light contact. With the Xfinity cars, you really see it. They’re really hung out a lot more. And when I do get in the fence, the right rear kind of sucks them in and then the right front gets stuck on the wall and people tell you it’s stuck and that’s because cars are so hung out going around the race track. The Cup cars are a lot more straight in light and so you can make slight contact with the wall and not get stuck on it, but you don’t want to hit it too much because when you take off on sticker tires or you have short runs and you need to run off the wall, any damage you do to the right side is going to take away from that 10 or 15-lap run speed that you have. So, you’ve really just got to keep it in one piece. There’s a lot of speed up there but you can hit it, but you don’t want to. It’ll hurt you in the beginning of the run, which could be the way the race ends, or it could be a caution at the end. You may get stuck behind and lose too much ground on a restart setting up for a green flag run if you do too much damage to your car over the course of a longer run.”

YOU ARE RIGHT NOW THE LAST OF THE BIG THREE TO NOT HAVE SCORED A VICTORY WITH CHRISTOPHER BELL GETTING HIS WIN LAST WEEK. DOES THAT PUT EXTRA PRESSURE ON YOU MOVING FORWARD?
“No, I don’t think it does. I knew that they were going to be very capable of winning races. We’ve had our opportunities last year. And, you know, so far this year if we ran cleaner races and made smarter decisions who’s to say? But you know, it’s a process. Yeah, you want to do as good as the other two that were a part of that. But everyone’s learning curve is different. They have different strengths and weaknesses. We’re all different and that’s kind of what shaped up our great battle going into Homestead. Christopher was really good at short tracks and road courses and Cole was outstanding on the 1.5-mile and the high-banked tracks. It was a good little mix and seeing them win is not a surprise, for sure. They’re all very good drivers. They’re in the right equipment to go out there and win and I believe that I’m in the right equipment to go out and win too. It’s just it’s very important to execute. There are three or four things that I should have done differently that were mistakes, in my opinion, last year in this race at Homestead. One spot on one re-start or one choice, one decision, and really shake-up how the whole race goes. So, you’ve just got to make the right decisions in those very critical times in a race and that could be the difference between finishing fourth or being up there and battling for the win. So, I’m just trying to learn that and understand that and keep learning from these new lessons that pop up and try not to make the same mistakes going forward. Through that learning process we’ll find ourselves in more opportunities to capitalize hopefully and go for those wins.”
Team Chevy high-resolution racing photos are available for editorial use.

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