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Dropping the Hammer: 23XI Racing Shocks & Awes With Tyler Reddick Reveal

Ten days ago, Tyler Reddick‘s future in NASCAR was set in stone.

At least in the short term.

Though Richard Childress had hinted at it earlier this year, Reddick confirmed in the Road America garage prior to qualifying Childress had picked up his option for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.

“Next year’s all taken care of, I’ll be racing with RCR next year,” Reddick said.

Then came the next question, courtesy of Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass.

“Have you started talking to people about 2024?”

The question was barely out of Pockrass’ mouth when Reddick smiled.

Just over 24 hours later, Reddick clinched his first Cup win in 92 starts. It was the first win for RCR by a driver not named Austin Dillon since 2017 and it was the most convincing victory for the organization since Kevin Harvick‘s final season with RCR in 2013.

In victory lane, as Reddick’s son Beau slept, there were cheers and big smiles.

For the first time in a while, the Cup future seemed bright for RCR.

Always in motion, the future is.

It all changed nine days later on Tuesday, July 12 around 12:10 p.m. ET.

That’s when a media availability described as being a midseason status update about Toyota and 23XI Racing turned into the biggest bombshell of the NASCAR season.

Reddick unexpectedly popped into the digital press conference. Initially played off as a mistake, within moments Reddick had slid behind a table to sit next to Denny Hamlin.

“Surprise?” Hamlin asked everyone watching.

“Surprise,” Reddick added.

The news: NASCAR’s newest Cup winner, who Hamlin later described as a “generational talent,” will join 23XI Racing in 2024.

See also
Tyler Reddick Joining 23XI Starting in 2024

Other than that, there were no further announcements on 23XI’s side of things.

Hamlin and team president Steve Lauletta have no idea who will sponsor Reddick in 2024 or even how many cars it will field that season.

Those are among many of the Toyota organization’s “unanswered questions.”

All that’s known is Reddick recently signed a multi-year deal with a team that’s in its second season.

According to Hamlin, conversations about possibly adding the two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion to his stable had been going on for about a year.

It all started with Reddick “reaching out when we started the team and saying, ‘Love what you’re doing. It look like you guys are really pushing the limits and doing things a little differently,'” Hamlin said. “It was all very casual stuff. … We obviously work together and we do driver intros and you can casually have conversations back and forth. … we’ve been talking for a very, very long time.”

Was there any one instance that stood out to Hamlin that lured him toward the 26-year-old Reddick?

“It’s been every time I’ve been on the racetrack with him. It’s easy to spot talent when you gotta go against it,” Hamlin said. “It made sense to me. You look at the his age, there’s runway that he has. To me … franchise drivers don’t come around that often. And so if there’s ever one that you feel like you can grab, you go after it and you do whatever it takes to make that happen. And then you work on the details later.”

There are currently 16 months before the end of the 2023 season.

I asked Reddick how he would keep the next year-and-a-half from being “awkward” with the RCR teammates he’s been working with for four years.

“It’s certainly a challenging thing,” Reddick said. “But the one nice thing about it is I feel really strongly about the group that I work with. Everyone on that (No.) 8 team, we’re a very close group. Our bond and the way we work together as a team is unlike anything I’ve had and so in that, I feel very confident.”

Left unanswered was why, despite the confidence, Reddick chose another path for his career going forward. But he did bring up he’d been in a similar situation before, in 2018, when it was announced he would leave JR Motorsports for RCR’s Xfinity Series operation after that season.

Unlike Tuesday, that announcement came at the end of October, weeks before the end of the season and his time with JRM.

“I knew I wasn’t gonna be coming back,” Reddick said. “Richard brought me in. And we’re able to go out there and win a championship with (crew chief) Dave (Elenz) and Dale (Earnhardt Jr.). So I’ve been through this before, and I believed a lot in that team. But I believe that much and more in the team that I currently have. So certainly, it’s not an easy thing to navigate.”

Unfortunately, it was already awkward.

Later on Tuesday, Toyota Racing President David Wilson told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that they “wanted this to kind of rock the industry. We wanted to have some fun with it, and then put it to bed.”

They definitely accomplished the first part.

In the middle of the Reddick press conference, RCR released a statement on its social media channels, which ended by saying the “timing of this announcement could not be any worse.”

Reddick said in the press conference he believed “this shouldn’t have been a total shock” to his current team.

“As we were navigating what the future would look like a while ago, we said that after the option was up in ’23 and ’24 and on, we were not sure … if we were going to return and we were going to figure out what lied ahead,” Reddick said. “So this shouldn’t have been a true shock to them. But it’s out there and everyone has the information now and now we all collectively figure out what do we do going from here.”

I later reached out to a RCR executive for further comment.

“We were shocked to hear the news today,” I was told.

Reddick said putting out the announcement now “gives everyone time to figure out what what lies ahead. What is the next step, where do we go from here? So, in my opinion, I feel like it’s better to do it now than in the playoffs. … There’s no reason to to kick the can down the road.”

On SiriusXM, Wilson said a “firewall” will have to be erected between Toyota and Reddick for the next year-and-a-half.

“Just because 23XI have a contract signed with Tyler Reddick does not change the fact that Richard Childress Racing IP, Chevrolet IP is theirs and 23XI and Toyota is ours,” Wilson said. “And ultimately, we are professionals and we’re going to continue to act as professionals and respect those those sensitivities.”

However, Wilson admitted he can’t say “it’s not gonna be awkward.

“That kind of goes with the territory,” he said. “The reality is you can’t do a deal in this sport without it coming out. And then you’re on your back foot and you’re trying to spin messages and you can put yourself into a position of having to be misleading or disingenuous and what I like as much as anything else is we’re avoiding all of that.

“We’re speaking clearly in terms of what the future looks like.”

For Reddick, he is simply glad his plans are “in front of everybody.

“23XI can go to work, myself and RCR go back to work and continue to be as competitive as possible, but also know that the future is set in stone,” Reddick said.

“I know what lies ahead.”

2022 is Daniel McFadin’s ninth year covering NASCAR, with six years spent at NBC Sports. This is his second year writing columns for Frontstretch. His columns won third place in the National Motorsports Press Association awards for 2021. His work can also be found at SpeedSport.com. And you can hear more from him on his podcast.

About the author

Daniel McFadin is a 7-year veteran of the NASCAR media corp. He wrote for NBC Sports from 2015 to October 2020. He's currently a freelancer and lead reporter and editor for Frontstretch. He is also host of the NASCAR show "Dropping the Hammer with Daniel McFadin" on YouTube and in podcast form.

You can email him at danielmcfadin@gmail.com.

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Echo

Wow. Childress gets to pay Tyler for another year plus, while Tyler becomes an even better driver for Denny and Toyota lol They will keep bubba because he brings in sponsors money because he’s half black. No doubt in my mind that Richard is pissed.

DoninAjax

Reddick’s time til his contract is up with Childress should be interesting.

Mike

I don’t know why but this leaves a bad taste in my mouth. For one I don’t believe “Dinny” is all that and a bag o chips when it comes to team ownership and it feels like JGR and Toyota are on the struggle bus as of late.

Steve R

c
Childress has reddick under contract next year,, He should just park reddick and let him sit out all of next season, Back stabbing can work both way,

WJW Motorsports

Terribly handled all around. A full year lame duck driver – already committed to another manufacturer? Wonder if the LIV tour called him to see if he was interested. RC must have paid a pretty penny and used up some some favor with Dale and Rick to pry him away. I’d name Rutledge Wood his new crew chief and lock him out of the shop and only let him see the car when he arrived to the track to race (kidding – but this is really bad). Also have a feeling his wheels may be “loose” on a number of occasions next year.

Christopher

I remember how tense and outright nasty things became between RCR and Harvick when he announced a year ahead of time that he was moving to SHR. If Richard Childress has some sort of out built into his contract with Reddick it would not surprise me if he fired him at the end of this season. The announcement may have seriously hampered sponsorship negotiations at RCR; perhaps that’s why they’re so pi**ed off.

Jeremy

What’s interesting to me is what wasn’t said. Generally speaking, good drivers don’t leave good teams without a solid reason. Was it money? Is RCR not a good environment (for whatever reason) behind the scenes? Does he think the JGR extension Toyota equipment is that much better than RCR Chevrolets? Is Austin just that much of a douchebag to be around? lol

Something is going on at RCR that we aren’t seeing. If things are good where you’re at, you’re happy and productive, and someone else offers you a “better” deal, most people would either say “thanks, but no thanks”, or go to their current employer and use that offer as a possible spur to land a better deal / stay where they’re at. At least give them a chance to match it. When things aren’t good, that’s when you start looking around for a way out, don’t tell anyone, then drop the 2 week (or 1.5 years in this case) notice – aka middle finger – after you land the new gig.

Last edited 26 days ago by Jeremy
Christopher

Viewing it as a purely long term career decision, Richard Childress is 76 years old, RCR has been a mid-field team for decades. What’s it future going to look like when Childress retires, sells the team or passes away? Hamlin and company are a much younger ownership group, with strong factory backing. If I was Reddick’s age I’d make the same choice he did. But I would not have announced it like he did, consider it extremely bad business form that RCR was not told this was coming ahead of time (at least judging by their reaction).

SB

RC has Austin Dillons’ father in the wings to run the company when he decides to retire. While Tyler has every right to make sure of a secure future, the timing certainly seems that he’s giving the middle finger to RCR. Rather like leaving JRM right after winning a title?

Bill B

Good points all but we don’t know how much money 23X1 was willing to throw at him vs. RCR, and that might be all it takes. But…. If there is something amiss at RCR you may not be far off with your Austin Dillon joke. While AD may or may not be a douchebag, he may very well be considered the top driver at RCR and we all know that blood is thicker than water. With that in mind, if he feels he is a better driver than AD then it would increase his willingness to look for greener fields.

Charlie

This makes sense for Toyota and Reddick. This gets Toyota out of the pipeline of drivers starting in the truck series and becoming legacies for future openings at JGR. They also yanked an up and coming star from GM.
All sorts of speculation. Not sure how Kurt Bush fits into the plans. Interesting times. It appears that 23-11 is NOT the outlet for additional Toyota drivers in the pipeline, alluded to above, and they will go after the the best available. Nice move.

Bill B

You know, 23X1 is not a top tier team and I wouldn’t even say they are better than RCR at this point. They certainly have potential for the future but I am not so sure how much this makes sense for Reddick. What if one of the top tier teams would have had an opening? My only point is that it isn’t clear to me that he has made anything but a lateral move. He may have been able to do better.

Echo

I agree with you, I think he rushed into this way too early. What if he wins a lot more, or even wins the championship this year. If his 2024 $$$ is already set in stone he may really have screwed himself. Look at MJ’s basketball team, Michael doesn’t pay players well.

gbvette

You have to wonder if Reddick will still be with RCR by ’23, or even with them at Daytona next February. The situation’s not going to be good. I can’t imagine Chevrolet will be happy to have him spend a year plus with RCR, gaining information to take to Toyota. I don’t know if Reddick’s contract can be broken, but I know if I was Childress, I’d be taking a hard look at it.

RCR has options. They have Creed and Hill in Xfinity, but are either ready for Cup? Berry and Mayer may not be ready yet either, but Allgaier is if he wants to. Gragson has the talent, but can he control himself? Poole and Moffitt??? Of the available Chevrolet Cup drivers, Erik Jones is probably the best, or maybe Allmendinger. Cassill and Haley are out there, and there could be someone from Ford or Toyota to poach. Ty Dillon seems to be the obvious choice, but he’d be a step backwards from Reddick. Jeffery Earndardt would be the sentimental choice, but does he have the talent?

Jeremy

At first I thought you said “Ty Gibbs seems to be the obvious choice…” immediately after the possibility of poaching a Ford/Toyota driver. Oops! Ha Ha!

1911_Bandit

Hamlin and Jordan took Bubba Wallace – a 20th place driver – invested millions and millions of dollars into building a team around him and turned him into a – 24th place driver. How long can they afford to do that? I just don’t think it is a very strong team at this point.

Last edited 24 days ago by 1911_Bandit
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