Tyler Reddick returns to COTA with winning in mind: ‘We’ve got to go in there and perform’

Tyler Reddick shares his winning mindset as COTA approaches.

One year ago, Tyler Reddick proved to be the class of the field at Circuit of The Americas, driving a near-flawless race on the way to his first victory with 23XI Racing in the No. 45 Toyota.

His 2024 return to the 3.41-mile road course in Austin, Texas, comes with a personal expectation for more of the same in Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

“It’s important for us and this team to go to COTA and perform like we expect: Be in the lead, in the top five, part of the conversation of winning this race,” Reddick told NASCAR.com in a Tuesday teleconference. “It’s really important for where I’m at and where this team is at. We’ve got to go in there and perform.”

Reddick’s track record in the NASCAR Cup Series’ three trips to COTA has been exceptional, with top 10s in each race, top fives in each of the last two and a convincing win to boot in 2023. That day, he led 41 of 75 laps through triple overtime, maintained an average running position of 3.71 according to NASCAR’s loop data, and posted a race-high 13 fastest laps throughout the race.

It was a remarkable performance in his debut year for 23XI, which came one year earlier than scheduled after an accelerated split from Richard Childress Racing after the 2022 campaign. To win in just the sixth race of 2023 was a critical boon for a team in just its third season at the Cup level.

“That was a great moment for us,” Reddick said. “Being able to win that early on, after having what was leading up to that point a really rough start to the year, just got us locked in where we needed to be. We went on a pretty good stretch there where … going into Bristol, we’d gotten up to like fifth or somewhere in there in points, knocking on the door of first. So it kind of set us up on a good run for a while.”

Reddick has already shown significant speed in 2024, the only driver to challenge Kyle Larson for a win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before finishing second, then leading a race-high 68 laps at Phoenix Raceway that resulted in a 10th-place finish. He’s scored the third-most stage points (43, behind Larson and Ryan Blaney), yet he only has an average finish of 20.2, 23rd amongst full-time drivers.

“It’s kind of a tale of two different stories, right?” Reddick said. “When the days go great, we’re in the hunt. We’re scoring the most or the second-most amount of points on the day. And that’s the story of Vegas and Phoenix. The rest of it is getting caught up in stuff and not getting points at all. I mean, more particularly, Atlanta and Bristol. Even before we had the chance to earn stage points were out of the race for the most part, out of contention. So, yeah, that’s been tough.
“But I mean, it’s not like we’re at a reach of the points lead yet. I mean, it’s still very early on. It took two good races to correct our bad start, and I feel like we just get back into our rhythm and score stage points and finish these races where our cars stack up speed-wise, we’ll be fine.”

COTA may be the perfect place for Reddick to relocate that rhythm. But last year’s success doesn’t guarantee the same this year, thanks in large part to a different aerodynamic package on short tracks and road courses this season.

“We are not gonna be able to take what we brought the last time and expect it to do the same,” Reddick said. “The car’s gonna be different. We got a new Toyota Camry as well. So we’re going to have to make changes. But hopefully, that, more than anything, just helps us hopefully like we did with the short-track/road-course package last year. We were the first to really hit it right. Hopefully, with this new simple diffuser short-track/road-course package, we hit it right first.
“We saw that a little bit at Phoenix. I felt like we were really, really strong. The other Toyotas were, too, so it would not shock me if a lot of my Toyota teammates are the ones that we’re fighting for this win against.”

In addition to Bubba Wallace, Reddick will have another teammate on track this weekend, with Kamui Kobayashi piloting the No. 50 Mobil 1 Toyota in his second Cup appearance.

“It’s just one more ace in the hole,” Reddick said. “I mean, certainly, he has limited experience in the Cup car, but it’s a track he knows. It’s a track that he knows that our cars are really, really strong at.”
Zach Sturniolo