Tyler Reddick – Press Conference Talladega

LAT Images #45: Tyler Reddick, 23XI Racing, Jordan Brand Toyota Camry celebrates his win

THE MODERATOR: We’re now joined by Tyler Reddick, driver for 23XI Racing and the winner of the GEICO 500. We’ll open it up for questions.

Q. You get to now brag that you were the first one to win with Michael Jordan in attendance. Having him in victory lane, seeing him be able to enjoy and celebrate that moment, how much does that add to a day like this for you?

TYLER REDDICK: It adds to it a lot. First off, I have to apologize. My voice is pretty much gone from screaming and yelling, hooting and hollering, all that good stuff.

Yeah, it adds to it a lot for sure. I think any time you can win at Talladega, the emotions just overflow because there’s so much uncertainty that comes with it.

For me and my situation, right, me and Michael were battling really, really hard. Not just me and him, though. The first three, four cars in each row were really, really contributing to what was taking place at the front. Yeah, I was in bad shape going into turn one. I was not liking what I was seeing. I was like, Oh, no, it’s slipping away.

That ended up being the very thing that allowed me to break through and win the race. Michael and Brad and Noah were all pushing well, and then they come off four with a good gap to the outside lane, so they’re going to battle for it. That ended up being the very thing that allowed me to break through. 

I had some momentum, but not enough to win the race. When Michael and Brad got crossed up, it slowed Brad down just enough that I was breaking through. I was just looking at the lights on the wall, on the catch fence, like, When is the caution going to come out? I was worried it already had. 

To be honest, I still haven’t gotten an answer. I don’t know if I crossed the line first or if the caution came out before I got there, but obviously we won the race. Man, it was nuts.

For us it was a fairly good day of strategy. We got a couple of stage points. Not as much as we wanted to, but I think of our group of Toyotas we tended to be towards the front of that group.

So it was nice to be able to get some stage points, kind of just mixing it up. Unfortunately, the very thing that took out about half of our cars is what put me, Martin, and Ty at the front of the field at the end.

Q. I don’t know if you saw the video or not, but post-race Michael was holding Beau in the pit box.

TYLER REDDICK: I hadn’t seen that, no. 

Q. Asked him if he is ready to celebrate and just everyone is there kind of having a moment. Having your son here to celebrate those moments too and Alexa, of course, how does that contribute to how you reflect on days like this? Obviously I know it’s fresh, it’s in the moment, but how does that add to days like this?

TYLER REDDICK: Certainly some of the most special victories and moments in victory lane have had a lot to do with my kid, honestly.

I remember back to Road America he was just knocked out, and we laid him on our Sparco — like the smaller size Sparco carry-on bag. It had a lot of victory lane stuff on it. He was still younger at the time, and he hadn’t gotten the potty training thing figured out. 

I remember Alexa laid him down on that bag, and he just absolutely peed all over the victory lane hats and everything else in his sleep. Just made a good old-fashioned mess.

Yeah, then fast forward to a little bit later than that. He was awake for Indy, and he watched us kiss the bricks and was, like, What is wrong with you guys? So that was really cool too.

Yeah, to have him wide awake in victory lane, celebrating with us, he knows who Michael Jordan is. Any time I have a pair of Jordans on or he does, I always ask the question, Whose shoes are these? He says, Michael Jordan’s shoes.

Yeah, in the moment it means a lot, but as he gets older and everything too, looking back on that, that’s going to be really, really cool.

Q. Does Beau think of Michael Jordan as a basketball player or the guy who has a shoe company?

TYLER REDDICK: Oh, that’s a good question. I feel like probably with as young as he is, more as the guy with the shoes for sure. The shoe company, right?

I haven’t done a great job, and you just gave me some ideas of what to do in the future. I’ve got to probably play some highlights, some Finals matchups, and educate Beau a little bit better.

He knows who Michael is obviously, but yeah, obviously he sees a lot of the shoes, but that’s some homework I can do. Play some old-school games for him so he can get a real good feel of how dominant he was in his prime.

Q. Well, you were only 7 when Jordan retired, I think, so not saw and remember.

TYLER REDDICK: I love watching it. Love watching the highlights. Love watching the games. It’s incredible, right? He’s one of the best to do it. There’s a couple that have been that good for that long, but obviously I’m going to be partial to my boss.

Q. When you see Michael trying to throw the block, are you thinking, That might work, or are you thinking, Man, there’s a crash coming, and I just am going to see if I get caught up in it or what?

TYLER REDDICK: I would say that late I’m just holding it wide open. Doesn’t even matter. I just close my eyes. I’m going to hold it wide open. I’m going to do whatever it takes to not lift.

I’ve been in that situation a few different scenarios. It’s the first time I’ve been in that spot at the front when you can battle for a win.

I think our last time here in the Playoffs I saw everyone wreck, and I just drove into it. I just hit it as hard as I could, and we gained a couple of spots out of it.

So that’s just the mentality you have to have here. You just have to kind of throw caution to the wind. As it turned out, the 10 and the 6 kind of got stacked up when Michael got turned sideways. Thankfully I had just enough momentum to get by both of them.

Q. I asked Jordan, Was this as good as a playoff win. Without hesitation, he said, Better. Now, whether that’s NBA or NASCAR, your reaction to that, and what does it say about his commitment to you and the team?

TYLER REDDICK: For him he’s come to a few races, and unfortunately, even as good as the days have looked, they’ve not ended in victory lane. So for us to win a race like that, be up front as much as we were at the end and it looked like it was slipping away, and then we get it back, man, it’s an unreal feeling. 

Yeah, it’s great. I’m really excited that I was able to do it, but my excitement level would not change whether it was me or Bubba that got him to victory lane when he was here at the track. He means a lot to everyone here at 23XI. He makes a big effort to talk to me, talk to Bubba, talk to Denny, talk to Steve, talk to other individuals on the team and pump us up when we need it.

To have him here to experience victory lane for the first time is really special.

Q. I was curious, what are the range of emotions going from the aggressive pit stop, all you guys working together, then your Toyota teammates crashing, and then all of a sudden you’re still out back in front and you’re getting Toyota its first win at a superspeedway, the Next Gen era?

TYLER REDDICK: There was a big range, right? I didn’t actually ask the question, but certainly when you look at a crash of that nature where cars go up into the wall at that angle, your first thought is, Man, I hope everyone is okay. It sounded like they were. 

Then you have to shift gears and recenter in on your race. Like, okay, well, that really stunk for the drivers involved, but now we’ve got a real opportunity, those that remain, to capitalize on this moment and make sure one of us gets to victory lane.

So I really would have expected Martin to go to the bottom and Ty to have to decide between the two of us, but again, I really am thankful that Martin and Ty both decided to stay behind me and were dedicated to pushing me.

If it wasn’t for that, I don’t think we win today. So, you know, it’s just that Toyota family aspect, our teammates. Everyone at Toyota really makes a big effort to help one another. They certainly were a large part of why we were able to stay up towards the front and get the win today. 

Q. Then does it add, I guess, extra pride knowing that even with the limited numbers after the crash that you guys all worked so well together, and you were able to deliver that win?

TYLER REDDICK: Yeah, it’s great. I know ultimately I’m the only one that leaves with the trophy and the Playoff points, but we worked really well together.

I’m just very thankful that Martin was as committed as he was and Ty was as committed as he was to Martin. That was a very large part of why we were able to stay in the mix at the very end.

Q. Tyler, I know a lot of the early part of the race was fuel-saving mode for most of the field, but were you a little surprised running most of that first stage three-wide that we didn’t have the issue like we did at the end and it stayed clean for the first two stages?

TYLER REDDICK: Yeah, we’re saving so much fuel that it looks three-wide and it looks borderline chaotic, but for the most part, everyone is kind of taking it easy, giving each other room.

So we were three-wide, and you saw drivers trying to advance their position in the draft to take advantage of the pit cycle when it would open up, and it would work out for some. It was just something to keep in mind all day long.

It certainly seemed like you would want to be on the bottom when the pit cycle would start if you were one of the first cars to pit, but it was hard to save fuel down there. The middle seemed the best for that.

You saw a lot of drivers playing risk versus reward. Like if I advance my position a few more spots, I’m further ahead when I come to pit road. Is that going to pay off in the amount of time on pit road? It was just everyone was kind of playing their own game there. 

It wasn’t really super chaotic really before the pit stops, but after we would pit, the intensity would shoot to the ceiling, and it would stay there for the rest of the run to the stage end.

Q. When were you notified of the plan to pit in stage three under green like you guys did?

TYLER REDDICK: No comment. Sorry. I’m not going to talk about it. 

Q. When that call was made, were you thinking it was a good thing because the way I understand it is you were either going to run them down under green, that was the idea if it stays green, or if it goes caution, you are going to be able to leapfrog them, which is what happened. So as a driver when you know this is going on, are you comfortable with it?

TYLER REDDICK: As a Toyota driver and the other Toyota drivers, we’re committed to each other. Whatever the strategy may look like, whatever the plan is, we’re all on board with one another. It ended up working out for some of us, but that’s just what we’re about. We’re about being on the same page and working together. 

Q. I thought about asking the same thing about the strategy. I’ll shift gears a little bit and ask, for Michael Jordan, he used to play here in Alabama with the Barons. Do you think it’s any more special being in that 45 car, which is the number he wore at the Barons with baseball? Any relation there?

TYLER REDDICK: That is pretty cool. I think of also my fiancee’s dad and him spending time together in baseball as well. There’s a lot of cool ties that go on down the line.

Yeah, it’s just really special that he was able to be here. Again, it’s great. It’s cool that I was able to do it and get him to victory lane, but it wouldn’t be any less special if it was Bubba doing it instead. We both really want to get into victory lane, and we’ve been really motivated to do so. I’m really glad that we were finally able to do it.

Q. Is there any be extra motivation you guys get when y’all know that Michael was here at the track? Is there any more desire to want to win when he is here? Does that give you an extra step-up?

TYLER REDDICK: Not that it — I mean, in the past it hasn’t really worked out. But, funny enough, I didn’t really ask the questions today. I saw Curtis Polk was here. I didn’t know Michael was here until after the race was over.

Maybe that was the trick, us not knowing that he was here, because in the past when we’ve known he’s here… we always push really, really hard, right, but it would make it extra special if we were able to take him to victory lane.

Maybe it was a good thing I didn’t know he was here until it was all said and done.


Spread the love