NASCAR Barometer: Reddick Takes Second Road Course Victory

NASCAR Barometer: Reddick Takes Second Road Course Victory

This article is part of our NASCAR Barometer series.

The Verizon 200 at the Brickyard was a wild one where Tyler Reddick stormed to pole and kept himself out of trouble to battle for his second road course win in an overtime finish. The race was punctuated with contact throughout the field as drivers battled aggressively to move forward in the field. Reddick's No. 8 team flipped the stages to maintain track position, putting Reddick out front for 38 of race's 86 total laps. His Chevrolet was one of the fastest cars all afternoon, and after surviving multiple late-race restarts, he came out on top of a final lap duel between himself and Ross Chastain for the race victory. The win makes him the fifth driver to win multiple races this season and preserved two playoff spots for nonwinners. Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. leave the weekend still occupying those positions, but are watching regular-season races wind down with their chances to get to Victory Lane before the playoffs shrinking. Kevin Harvick continues to hold down 17th in the standings with an 83-point deficit to the playoff positions.

Michigan International Speedway lies next on the march to the playoffs. The 2.0-mile D-shaped oval will make its only appearance of the season this week with the regular season rapidly coming to its conclusion. Ryan Blaney won at the track last season, but the Hendrick Motorsports teammates were the ones who dominated much of that race. Only four chances remain for drivers to stamp their playoff entries with a victory

The Verizon 200 at the Brickyard was a wild one where Tyler Reddick stormed to pole and kept himself out of trouble to battle for his second road course win in an overtime finish. The race was punctuated with contact throughout the field as drivers battled aggressively to move forward in the field. Reddick's No. 8 team flipped the stages to maintain track position, putting Reddick out front for 38 of race's 86 total laps. His Chevrolet was one of the fastest cars all afternoon, and after surviving multiple late-race restarts, he came out on top of a final lap duel between himself and Ross Chastain for the race victory. The win makes him the fifth driver to win multiple races this season and preserved two playoff spots for nonwinners. Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. leave the weekend still occupying those positions, but are watching regular-season races wind down with their chances to get to Victory Lane before the playoffs shrinking. Kevin Harvick continues to hold down 17th in the standings with an 83-point deficit to the playoff positions.

Michigan International Speedway lies next on the march to the playoffs. The 2.0-mile D-shaped oval will make its only appearance of the season this week with the regular season rapidly coming to its conclusion. Ryan Blaney won at the track last season, but the Hendrick Motorsports teammates were the ones who dominated much of that race. Only four chances remain for drivers to stamp their playoff entries with a victory as the scramble for the final playoff spots intensifies.

UPGRADE

Tyler Reddick – Shortly after announcing a surprise move to 23XI racing for the 2024 season, Reddick put together a near perfect weekend with Richard Childress Racing at Indianapolis. Reddick grabbed his first series win just a few weeks ago at Road America and then promptly put his No. 8 Chevrolet on pole for Sunday's race. He led the first 12 laps before ducking into the pits before the finish of stage 1. After keeping his nose clean through the second stage he then survived multiple restarts with impressive driving to capture his second career win, leading the final 25 laps. The team's focus will now be on getting ready for the playoffs with Michigan the next oval to help them prepare. Reddick has a best finish of 18th from three prior starts there.

Austin Cindric – Cindric's road racing skill was a big part of what earned him a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship, and fantasy players have been anxious to see that prowess in the Cup Series, too. He made good on that expectation at Indianapolis. After qualifying on the front row, he drove a relatively mistake-free race, battled through loss of track position and survived the carnage that consumed many of the other contenders to finish second. The finish was his fourth top-five and seventh top-10 of the season and leaves him in with a good position in the standings with the start of the playoffs in sight. Coming up are more tracks at which Cindric should find success, too. This week will be his first series start at Michigan, where he put his Xfinity car on pole last season.

Chase Briscoe – Briscoe opted to race for playoff points Sunday, staying on track and avoiding everyone's mistakes through the first stage to collect the third stage win of his career. He led a total of five laps and then added a seventh-place finish in the second stage to pad his points tally. That play for stage points did not help his race finish, as it cost him track position in the final segment. However, that was the tradeoff the team sought. Fantasy players can expect this team to continue trying to add to their points tally by racing mostly for stage points as the regular season edges toward completion. Their next chance will come this week at Michigan where Briscoe has just one prior series start, an 11th-place finish last season.

Christopher Bell – Bell found time in the braking zones during practice, and he put that newfound knowledge to use in the race on Sunday, picking up the stage 2 victory. For a bit it looked like Bell would challenge for the win, but in the final stage things came undone. First, he lost track position and spent much of the final miles mired in traffic. Then, while trying to work through that traffic he used too much of his tires. He suffered a blown front tire that shredded the fender and left him tumbling down the order as he limped around the track to make repairs in the pits. Sunday was a day that got away for the No. 20 team, but Bell does have a victory that leaves him in championship contention. Looking ahead, he has three prior Michigan starts with a best finish of 13th (twice). His average finish at the track is 14.3.

Bubba Wallace – Something has changed for Wallace, and it changed for the better. He had just two top-10 finishes prior to July, but after Sunday's fifth-place finish at Indianapolis he now has three straight top-10 finishes, with two of those being top-fives. Wallace showed flashes of speed with this new car early in the season, including a runner-up finish in the Daytona 500, but is now seeing out complete races with that speed in hand. He is racing smarter and his team is hitting the right strategies to help him get there, making this recent run of form the best of his career so far. Continuing to race at this level will open the door to more victories, which could put him into the playoff picture. At Michigan he has one top-10 finish from eight career starts, and his recent speed could give him the chance to grab another this week.

DOWNGRADE

Ryan Blaney - Blaney was poised for a good finish Sunday at Indianapolis. He qualified sixth and went on to finish second in the first stage. The team then made an aggressive call to not change tires to gain track position, which seemed to pay off as Blaney then raced in the top five after not flipping the stage by stopping early like the other leaders. The move paid dividends throughout the race distance, and Blaney stayed in touch with the lead until the final restart. Blaney ended up on the wrong side of the chaos when the accordion effect of cars bouncing off one another sent him spinning out of contention, leaving him with a 26th-place finish. Blaney's quest for his first win of the season marches on. He won at Michigan last season and will hope he can repeat that this week.

Kyle Larson – Sunday's road course visit was not a good one for Larson. His problems started with early contact, sending the No. 5 to the pits for repairs which put him far back in the field. After returning to the track and circulating again, he lost his brakes heading into turn 1 and clouted the side of Ty Dillon in a massive impact. The crash knocked both cars out of the race, and Larson jogged quickly over to check on Dillon's wellbeing, explaining what happened to the shocked bystander. The next race is back on an oval again, and Larson is a three-time winner at Michigan, though. He finished third in the last two races there and led 70 laps last year. He will seek to replicate that this week as he works to overcome the disappointment of Indianapolis.

Kevin Harvick – Harvick entered the Indianapolis race 17th in the championship standings hoping for a good weekend or a win to work his way back into the playoff standings. His wishes did not come true, as he was one of the many cars caught up in early trouble in a chaotic afternoon. Harvick soldiered on after his first incident until getting caught up in yet another crash in the third and final stage, doing enough damage to end his afternoon completely. The defending champion continues to slip behind in the championship standings with limited races left to turn the situation around. Harvick is a five-time Michigan winner, however. Four of those wins have come in the last six races at the track, too. He could use a dose of good fortune, and another win at that track this week would be the lifeline he needs.

Ross Chastain – Despite being one of the most consistent teams so far this season, Chastain and his No. 1 have failed to translate that consistency into top finishes recently. While Chastain has not appeared to lose any of his speed, the last two races have been his first back-to-back finishes outside of the top 20 since February. Alarms should not be going off quite yet, though. Last week at Indianapolis Chastain was in with a shot for the win in the overtime restart, but his decision to avoid turn 1 carnage by taking an escape road was not to NASCAR's approval. The self-preservation move would have paid off with a second-place finish, but NASCAR assessed a 30-second time penalty for shortcutting the course. This week's race at Michigan could be a true test of where he stands, though. In four prior starts his best finish there was 26th in 2018.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Harrison Burton – Burton's rookie season in the Cup Series has been a difficult haul. After finishing third in his Daytona 500 qualifying race, he had to wait until Darlington to score his first top-15. His first top-10 only arrived just a few weeks ago in Atlanta. Sunday, however, he navigated the road-course chaos to claim a surprise third-place for the first top-five of his Cup career. The past few finishes have been a nice step forward for Burton as he tries to find his way among NASCAR's toughest competition. The next step will be for him to turn those finishes into consistent top-15 results. He could stand a good chance of continuing his progress with the return visit to many tracks yet to come, however. This week will be his first series start at Michigan.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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