Eventful day in Texas for 23XI leads to top-10s for Reddick, Wallace

Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace held true to their esteemed status on 1.5-mile tracks.

The 23XI Racing duo of Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace held true to their esteemed status on 1.5-mile tracks in the Next Gen car in completing an organizational top-10 afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway. While the Toyota teammates couldn’t quite replicate prior successes in the Lone Star State, they survived a true war of attrition in the wild west.

Entering the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400, 23XI emerged as the team most likely to bring a halt to the season-long reign of Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing, who’d won seven-of-eight races in the NASCAR Cup Series to this point.

Reddick, who won the first race in the seventh-generation car at Texas, was riding a three-race top-10 streak into Fort Worth. Wallace finished third in the most recent race at the 1.5-mile track after leading the most laps and was coming off his season-best finish of fourth at Martinsville Speedway.

While the teammates were able to add to their recent success, nothing came easy in this double-overtime duel.

Reddick began the race where he would end up finishing – fourth. But how he wound up there felt like a well-deserved miracle.

Through a majority of the race, Reddick had one of the strongest cars. After finishing Stage One in fifth, his shot at winning his first race of the season saw a massive increase when the clear-favorite Kyle Larson lost a right-rear wheel as the leader and had to serve a two-lap penalty.

Serving as a mainstay inside the top-five, Reddick got a preview of what was to come at the end of the race late in Stage Two after a little back-and-forth with Chase Elliott. The eventual race winner threw some aggressive blocks and manipulated the air around the No. 45 to stay in the hunt for the win.

After taking the lead for the first time on Lap 180, Reddick strung together 34 circuits out front and asserted himself as the favorite in the later stages of the race.

The final blow would come on a restart with 33 laps to go. Reddick chose the bottom lane as the command car, while Elliott opted to line up behind him.

Much like late in the second segment, the rear bumper of the No. 45 caught a big nudge from the nose of Elliott’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, who took Reddick three-wide on the bottom and loosened him up with a tight block through Turn 1.

Reddick slipped as far back as eighth with 20 to go after popping the wall while in a side-by-side battle with runner-up finisher Brad Keselowski for third.

Thanks to an additional four cautions between when Reddick tagged the wall and the race-deciding yellow waved on Lap 276 – as well his execution on restarts – he overcame the odds to score his series-best sixth top-10 through nine starts.

“We had control of the restart that mattered, and we didn’t execute,” Reddick said. “Just kept focusing on the wrong things. All day long, I’d been really aggressively blocking the car behind me going into Turn 1, and it really hurt us going into the center of Turn 2.
“Just made bad adjustments at the wrong time, and we gave away the race … That is kind of the story of the end of the race for us.”

In solely seeing Wallace was able to improve upon his 10th-place starting spot to finish seventh, one would assume the driver of the No. 23 had a relatively even-keeled day. However, this is far from the case.

Sure, Wallace led laps, scored the third-most stage points and was able to execute a second-straight top-10. But he was also involved in 1-of-16 cautions to take place at Texas.

Working Lap 173, Harrison Burton put Wallace three-wide for the lead with Chase Briscoe going down the backstretch. Entering Turn 3, just as the Wood Brothers Ford secured the lead, Wallace got loose gliding across the middle groove and washed up into the No. 14.

Luckily for Wallace, contact with Briscoe’s Mustang Dark Horse actually corrected his spin and prevented him from getting any damage, while the eventual sixth-place finisher had to overcome a series of adversities.

With an average-running position of 16th in this race, each lap was a grind for Wallace, who earned every bit of his quality day with a tough-to-handle Toyota Camry XSE.

“I’m wore the hell out – mentally,” Wallace said. “Just from clean air to dirty air with the balance – it was just such a big deficit between the two. Never had the confidence to make passes, and that is what you have to do to make moves at the Cup level.
“Appreciate the team letting me rant a little bit, getting me back in the game and to come away with a top-10. It takes those grinding moments. Appreciate everyone on this 23 team. The Columbia Toyota was not good, but we got a top-10.”

Wallace now exits Texas with positive momentum on his side in the form of back-to-back top-10s, along with a career-best four through nine races, going into one of his best tracks in Talladega Superspeedway.

Reddick is bringing a series-best six top-10s into the GEICO 500, while riding an active-best four-race top-10 streak (both tied with third-place finisher William Byron), in hopes consistency will translate to his first quality finish at Talladega since 2021.

Cole Cusumano