Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Ross Chastain, Tyler Reddick Zeroing in on First Career NASCAR Cup Series Wins


Ross Chastain and Tyler Reddick share a word on pit road after finishing second and third at Phoenix on Sunday. Screengrab from Bob Pockrass Twitter video.

Chase Briscoe powered through for his first-career NASCAR Cup Series victory in Sunday’s Ruoff Mortgage 500 at Phoenix Raceway, but you didn’t have to look very far in the final running order to find two admirable challengers who will most likely be the next to score their first Cup Series wins as Ross Chastain and Tyler Reddick finished second and third.

For Chastain, who finished 29th-or-worse in the opening two events of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, Sunday’s runner-up effort marked his second-consecutive top-three finish.

On the final couple of restarts in the race, Chastain wondered what would be considered driving too hard for his first-career win, but after nearly crossing that line, he thankfully kept the car under him and got a good finish.

“Constant debate in my head,” Chastain explained. “Coming to the restart, when we put those tires on after we all pitted. Chase and I drove down into [turn] 1, I got inside of him and I drove way deeper than I meant to. But I took it, and almost had him clear, but it was just chattering all four tires. I ran him all the way to the wall on the exit of [turn] 2. Besides wrecking both of us, I couldn’t have done anymore speed from the start finish line to the exit of turn 2. That was kind of the defining moment of winning the race for us.”

The Trackhouse driver said he learned from the previous restart to calm things down a bit on the final restart of the race, which is what helped him finish, not third.

“That last restart, I dialed it back a little bit because I knew I wasn’t going to out drive Chase [Briscoe] and Tyler [Reddick]. When Kevin [Harvick] was outside the front row, I thought I could slide him, but I work with Tyler every week and I know I’m not going to out-slide him. I dialed it back and it worked.”

The Florida-native is starting to feel it, and he feels his crew chief Phil Surgen is critically underrated.

“I mean that’s like everything I’ve ever wanted and my crew chief Phil Surgen, like people don’t know how good he is,” Chastain stated in his post-race interview. “His adjustments this year have been so incredible and gave me exactly what I needed. Just came up one spot short. I’m so happy.”

Reddick, who has had race-winning speed at virtually every race this season, said he was very tempted to push his No. 8 Richard Childress Racing car further on the late race restarts, but after thinking back, like Chastain, he felt any further over the line, and he would have likely crashed.

“It’s very tempting, right? It’s just like when someone cuts you off on the freeway and you’re mad and you want to honk at them, it’s very tempting to hit the horn. Just trying to manage that, it’s a difficult thing,” Reddick said. “When we were driving off — I guess for Chase both times with Ross and then with me, it was like who’s going to lift first going into turn 1. It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, you know, I wish I could have been able to drive it in deeper, but that’s all I had. I couldn’t go any further. I would have fenced it.”

Despite coming up just short of his first-career win, again, Reddick, 26, moved to ninth in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings with his solid run on Sunday, his second-consecutive top-10 finish.

It’s been a strong opening portion of the season for Reddick, who has led 90 laps, won two Stages and now finished third at Phoenix. And the results should only continue to strengthen for Reddick, as his No. 8 team made drastic improvements to the locations of his pedals inside the car at Phoenix, which had led to his legs falling asleep in the car over the first three races of the season.

Chastain and Reddick are among the most aggressive drivers in the field each and every Sunday, and both are really starting to hone in on what it takes to reach victory lane in the NASCAR Cup Series. Don’t be surprised if one — or both — wins a race, or multiple races soon.

Toby Christie
Toby Christie
Toby is the Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of Toby is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, he is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award-winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

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