Tyler Reddick outduels Chase Elliott for Road America win
By Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer
ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. — Tyler Reddick had led 322 laps in his Cup career prior to Sunday and had finished in the top-10 in 32 of his 91 career starts.
At some point, he was going to win.
And that point came Sunday at Road America.
Reddick outdueled Chase Elliott — one of the best drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series on road courses, with seven career victories on those circuits — and led the final 16 laps to capture the Kwik Trip 250.
"We got it done," Reddick said. "We won a race."
The victory was the first for Richard Childress Racing in its past 72 starts and the first win for Reddick crew chief Randall Burnett.
"I knew the Cup Series was hard, but it truly blew my expectations away as how hard I was going to have to work," said Reddick, a two-time Xfinity Series champion.
Here are three takeaways from a strange race, at which the only cautions came at the stage breaks as drivers played nice with one another throughout the day:
Reddick finally closes it
Reddick has come close to wins; he had five career runner-up finishes, including two this year. He appeared headed to the win in April at the Bristol Dirt race, where Chase Briscoe took a huge gamble to make a move to win and ended up wrecking Reddick (and himself).
"I don’t obsess [over those finishes]," Reddick said. "I go back and look at it, and I realize that there are things I could have done differently."
Not only did he earn a win Sunday, but Reddick also won on a road course, and road courses are where he struggled early in his career. Early on, he never thought he would win a road-course race.
"Five years ago, I would have laughed and walked away because there’s no way in this world that would have ever happened," he said. "I was just terrible at it."
Playoff spots jumble
With the victory, Reddick went from 52 points below the playoff cutline to into the playoffs with the automatic berth for a win.
Now that there are 13 winners, there are only three playoff spots available on points, with eight races left in the regular season.
The victory Sunday dropped Kevin Harvick from inside the playoff cutoff to 20 points outside, with Christopher Bell now the last driver who would get in on points. Ryan Blaney (114 points ahead of Harvick) and Martin Truex Jr. (plus-61) are the winless drivers also currently "in" — but another winner from outside the cutoff could make them nervous.
"It’s a huge sense of relief," Reddick said. "We’ve tried to get the job done at a number of places throughout this year, and we’ve let one or two things let that happen that take us out of that.
"Today was finally the day I was hoping for all year long, just having a mistake-free race and see how it shakes out. We did that today, and we’re in victory lane because of it."
Frustration for Elliott
Chase Elliott was frustrated that Reddick was able to pass him after Elliott dominated the race. Once Reddick was in clean air, Elliott occasionally closed the gap but never got close enough to be a real threat.
"I didn't do a very good job there," Reddick said. "I just let him stay close enough to pressure me there while we had decent tires and never could get enough of a gap. [I] made a couple mistakes.
"I was gaining a gap there a couple times and made a couple mistakes and let him get back close enough to get me out of sync, and then after that just started struggling."
Elliott led 36 of the 62 laps.
Bob Pockrass has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 following stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpockrass. Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass!