Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch raced to Victory Lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 11, holding off his brother Kyle in a wild back-and-forth battle. While he celebrated by quoting Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick accepted that his NASCAR Cup Series playoff chances suffered a major blow.
Prior to the trip to AMS, Reddick sat ahead of Busch in the playoff standings. He was well above the cut line while the driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro only had a few points keeping him in the picture. Now, however, Reddick is in the 16th position while Busch is locked into the playoffs.
I know we can make the playoffs,” Reddick said after the Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart, per NASCAR. “We just have to continue to push.” His next opportunity will be the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The race will take place Sunday, July 18, at 3 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.
Reddick Has Made Positive Strides Throughout 2021
The driver of the No. 8 RCR Chevrolet Camaro lost multiple spots due to Busch’s win, but he finished sixth at Atlanta. This race was his third consecutive finish inside the top 10, 11th overall. Reddick’s best finish was second behind Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Feb. 28.
Reddick is currently in the midst of his second full-time season as a Cup Series, and it is turning into a career year. He has already surpassed his previous best of nine top-10 finishes, which he set in 2020. Reddick only needs to crack the top-five two more times to match his previous best of three.
On top of consistently fighting for finishes inside the top-10, Reddick also won the first Busch Pole of his Cup Series career. He posted the fastest time at Circuit of the Americas on May 23 while taking on the Texas road course for the first time.
Reddick Can Continue to Make Moves Toward the Playoffs
While Busch’s win hurt his playoff chances, Reddick will still have the opportunity to fight for a spot in the top 16. There are five races remaining in the regular season, so he will have multiple opportunities to accrue enough points to remain ahead of the other bubble drivers. Though he will have to hope that no more first-time winners reach Victory Lane in the remaining races.
Using the previous races in 2021 as a guide, there is a path for Reddick to keep performing well and potentially win the first Cup Series race of his career. The Cup Series drivers have taken on four road courses during the 2021 season. Reddick has posted top-10 finishes in two of them — COTA and Road America — and he finished 19th at Sonoma. He crashed during the Daytona Road Course race along with Ross Chastain.
Finishing inside the top 10 50% of the time isn’t a guarantee that Reddick will continue to perform well in the two remaining regular-season road course races. However, he has a top-five finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course from his Xfinity Series career while many Cup Series drivers have not taken on the track.
It is also worth noting that he has gained speed as the season has progressed. He and the No. 8 team are clearly getting better, which bodes well for his remaining races. If he can make positive strides at Michigan and Daytona International Speedway after previously struggling, he should easily secure a spot in the playoffs.