Tyler Reddick has made a significant impact on Toyota Racing Development since making his move to 23XI Racing over the NASCAR offseason. According to Denny Hamlin, the California native is now the bar that other drivers set themselves against.
Hamlin made these comments after winning the Busch Light Pole at Sonoma Raceway on June 11. He explained how Reddick played a role in his improvement at road courses, as well as how this continues to be a work in progress for everyone on the Toyota Racing Development roster.
“He certainly exposed me and my lack of skills, and [I] knew he would,”
Hamlin said during a media session at Sonoma Raceway.
“I mean, you always want people that challenge you and challenge you to be better, and I think that when Tyler came over here this year we knew that he was going to be the bar that we had to set ourselves against. When I go to [Circuit of the Americas] and I’m in the simulator well more than a second slower than he is, then I just think about, ‘All right, how many road courses do we got left, and how can I cut that down by the time we get to Sonoma? And then how can I cut it down by the time we get to Chicago?'”
Reddick Has Delivered Road Course Wins
Reddick has been a full-time Cup Series driver since the 2020 season when he took over the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro. He went winless in his first two seasons, but he broke through in a major way in 2022 with his first three wins — two at road courses.
Reddick first reached Victory Lane at Road America in July 2022. He held off a road course ace, Chase Elliott, and took the No. 8 to Victory Lane for the first time since Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Richmond Raceway in 2006.
Reddick won his second career race four weeks later during a trip to Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course. He started from the pole, and he led 38 laps before overtaking Ross Chastain on the final run to the checkered flag.
Reddick switched to 23XI Racing after a three-win season in 2022, but he started the season with two DNFs in the first two races. This dropped him in the points, but he turned his season around with top-fives at Phoenix Raceway and Atlanta Motor Speedway before capturing his fourth career win.
Reddick delivered a dominant performance at Circuit of the Americas in March 2023. He started second overall next to William Byron, but he led a race-high 41 laps while sweeping the final two stages. This performance led to Kurt Busch predicting that Reddick will be a champion in the NASCAR Cup Series.
The Simulator is Only Part of the Process
Talking to Reddick and watching his lines in the simulator can certainly help other Toyota Racing Development drivers make improvements at road courses. However, this is only part of the process as they push to make improvements.
As Hamlin explained, he is “not going to wake up overnight” and automatically be a contender at every road course like Reddick. He still has to drive the same car that Reddick is driving, and he has to see some specific examples of where to make improvements.
Hamlin entered the Sonoma weekend with “the same car” as Reddick. He had crew chief Chris Gabehart put the same setup on his No. 11 Toyota Camry that Reddick had on his No. 45 Toyota Camry.
This was an interesting choice, but Hamlin explained its purpose. He told FOX Sports reporter Jamie Little that really good equipment at JGR “carried him” for several years. That is no longer possible with all of the cars being so similar. Running the same setup as Reddick means that the only difference in performance will be him.