The numbers from the first 11 races of the 2023 season suggest Tyler Reddick’s move to 23XI Racing appears to be paying off. However, with more than two-thirds of the season remaining, questions remain about Reddick’s championship potential with his new team.
I was far more confident that Kyle Busch’s move to RCR would benefit Busch than that Reddick’s move from RCR would be good for him. In contrast to the turbulent history of RCR, 23XI turns three this year.
Novelty isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as Trackhouse Racing proved last year. But it’s one thing for one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history to bring your wealth of experience to an established team. It’s different for a rider in his fourth year in full-time Cup Series competition to join a team that’s still going strong. But I’m happy to report that Reddick is doing just as well with his new team as Busch has with his.
Reddick’s move to 23XI: 2022 versus 2023
After 11 races, Reddick is doing better at 23XI than last year at RCR in most metrics. After starting two DNFs in 2023, Reddick won at COTA, the sixth overall race and first street course of the season.
As the table below shows, Reddick has four top five finishes in 2023, compared to three in 2022. That year, he was 20th or better when the checkered flag flew 72.7% of the time.
Reddick didn’t lead as many rounds this year as last year, but the current scoring system rewards wins and good finishes, not leading rounds. Reddick’s 319 points puts him in sixth place, 51 points behind leader Ross Chastain.
Reddick against the field
With so many point penalties this year, the season standings give an incomplete picture of a driver’s status compared to their peers. Reddick’s average score of 14.5 is the 10th best among all full-time drivers. Alex Bowman has the best average score of 10.3, followed by Christopher Bell with 10.5
Reddick’s average running position is also 10th best. William Byron leads that statistic with a 9.3. Denny Hamlin is second with an average running position of 10.4. Reddick finishes about the same position he runs in on average.
Rider #45 also ends up roughly where he started. Its average starting position of 14.7 is a metric worse this year compared to last year. His average starting position in 2022 was 11.9.
But again, you don’t get championships by starting at the front of the grid.
Loop data shows that Reddick has significantly improved his restart rank. He averaged a 15th place in 2022, but an 8.4 in 2023. Place. His green flag speed has increased slightly: 11.27 this year versus 12.6 last year.
Reddick vs. Kurt Busch
Reddick was originally not scheduled to race for 23XI this year. He had surprised everyone by signing a contract in 2022 to join his new team in 2024. Kyle Busch’s unexpected availability coupled with Kurt Busch’s concussion issues hastened Reddick’s move.
With the caveat that last year was 23XI’s first year as a two-car team, it seems fair to compare Reddick’s first year in the #45 to Kurt Busch’s first year in the car.
Reddick excels in all categories – unsurprising for a driver who won three races in the next-gen car’s first year, including his first career win.
While Reddick’s move to 23XI seems to be paying off, the season is only 11 races old. Here are a few things I’m watching to gauge his chances of making it to Championship 4.
finish the race. Reddick had eight DNFs in 2022 and two this year. His 14th place finish in 2022 doesn’t reflect how good he was as a driver when he finished races. Four of his DNFs last year were on the first four Superspeedways.
An engine failure caused two more DNFs. Although Reddick switched from Chevy to Toyota, remember that Kyle Busch suffered two engine failures in the playoffs for Toyota last year.
Conquest of super speedways. Drafting tracks were Reddick’s nemesis last year. His average Superspeedway finish was 26.8. It’s 19.0 this year, improved in part because he’s completed two of the three Superspeedway races he’s raced to date.
Superspeedways are paramount in the championship as Daytona concludes the regular season and drivers must get past Talladega to make it to the round of 16.
Intermediate tracks one more question. This week in Kansas, along with the upcoming race in Charlotte, are important tests for Reddick’s championship chances. His average finish last year on intermediate courses was 17.1, with two DNFs from the seven races.
Reddick finished 15th in Las Vegas this year, but that’s the only intermediate data point we have for him. 23XI swept across Kansas last year so expectations are high this weekend.
Given that 1.5-mile courses make up four out of 10 playoff races, running well at these courses is crucial to making it into the championship.