Toyota Racing – NCS COTA Quotes – Tyler Reddick – 03.22.24

23XI Racing driver Tyler Reddick was made available to the media prior to practice for the NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas on Friday.

TYLER REDDICK, No. 45 The Beast Unleashed Toyota Camry XSE, 23XI Racing

How do you feel about coming in the defending winner?

“I feel pretty good. I feel good about it. Obviously, there are a couple of changes with the car and the package. It is relatively the same track; some corners have been repaved. I think some of the ways that you make lap time are going to be different, but at the end of the day, the way you run really fast laps here is execute all 20 corners in that lap. Hopefully, we can do more of the same.”

Is there any difference from being under the radar at road courses, to now being the favorite?

“No, but it is kind of cool though. I remember a time not too long ago, when I was hoping just to finish with a clean race car. It has been nice to turn it around and improve like we have. It doesn’t hurt your confidence coming in, when you see that. It validates – but it’s all leading in, we haven’t done anything on the race track yet. Hopefully, by the end of practice and qualifying tomorrow, we are exactly where we need to be. We’ve certainly worked really hard at it. We haven’t gotten comfortable with the speed that we seem to have. We keep the same mindset and keep working really hard at it.”

How many laps do you have on the track in real life versus simulator?

“I’ll talk about real life. I have the opportunity to come race here with a WRL, World Racing League, car – and they have an array of different classes, and the one I competed in was GTO, which is kind of the elite class of that series. It was a lot of fun. The first year I did it, I think there was 89 or 90 cars entered. I think the second year I did it – there were even more cars. It was just a lot of fun – the first year I did it, we learned a lot. We had speed, we just couldn’t put the whole race together, and we came back next year, and we won both days and it was really, really fun. I learned a lot about how to manage your car on a road course race. For us, we had the speed in that race, when we ran here, but we didn’t have the fuel mileage that the other cars did. We had to get creative and save fuel that can really help you when you get in the right circumstances on the Cup side. It was more just fun. I can’t tell you how many laps we did during those eight-hour endurance races, but it was a lot of fun. I love racing in the Cup Series, but there is something about 90 cars on the race track and five or six different classes. I don’t think I had a single clean lap either year I ran that race. Just passing three or four cars at a time – it was absolute chaos. No spotters either.”

How does the portions of the repave affect you?

“I think in some of the areas the track has been reworked. I would imagine it would even the field to a degree. Anytime you have more grip, you have less potential of missing a corner. It might bring the field together in a couple of corners. I could be wrong. Maybe turn 11 is still just as spread through the field as it was before, but you certainly will have more grip. Outside of that, I think you have turn 12 and the other areas – it won’t change it a whole lot. It will be pretty close to what it was before. I think lap time might be a little bit faster, but the rest of the race track has continued to wear even more. It isn’t like the track hasn’t aged. I don’t know of any other tracks that get as many laps on it a year as this one does. The track does certainly change quite a bit year to year when you come here.”

Do you follow the betting lines?

“Well, more times than not, it will get posted to social media and you’ll see it somewhere in your feed, but as I was saying earlier – when Jeff (Gluck) mentioned it – it just adds to my confidence going into the weekend. It is always very interesting to see the fans mention it, when you are at the race track. Probably my favorite one is – don’t screw up my day, I’ve got a lot riding on you. That is always interesting to hear. I’ve even heard that you need to go out and wreck so-and-so because I’ve got to beat him head-to-head. Obviously, I don’t take their advice (laughter). It is pretty funny how the fans love to chime in and let you know what they have riding on you.”

Do you think it is a good thing?

“Well, there is a fine line to it. You have to be careful with it. Everyone loves watching March Madness and the number of options you have and the amount of teams you can follow – it’s just one more ways that fans can interact within the race, and have their own race within a race. As a fan, you have a lot on the line when you are cheering for your favorite driver, but once you put your pocketbook on the line, that adds to the excitement for the fans it seems.”

What does Ty Gibbs add to the meetings and what have you seen from his growth this past year?

“He’s been learning a lot, and his speed is there. When you think about his experience level in the Cup Series, and how tough that transition can be. I think he is doing very, very well. He’s hard on himself and wants to win races as any driver that comes to the Cup Series, but he’s right there and it’s just a matter of time. There is no line to it. You see the speed that he brings to the race track. His ability. His race craft improving. It could be any weekend. It could be this weekend. It could be the next. He’s got a lot of speed.”

Is there any pride that you’ve won on a track that Formula 1 has competed on as well?

“I do enjoy thinking about the different series that come and race here. This track has all sorts of stuff that competes at this venue. It is cool to think about. The two races are entirely different – different strategy, the speed of the cars, the spread between the cars on speed. I think about it a little bit, but to some degree it is very cool, but it is not like why I’m so motivated to come here and run well. I think for me naturally over time really came to appreciate the course itself and for me it is just one of the most fun laps – car versus track that we have, just because there is so many corners. It is one of the most frustrating tracks when you miss a corner, because you have two minutes and 10 seconds – somewhere in there – to think about your mistake. It is just very rewarding here to get the most out of your car. It’s a challenging race track.”

What is your understanding of track limits this weekend and the penalties that come from it?

“Basically, what I think they are trying to accomplish is just enforce it. I think what is really important to them is being consistent about it. If it can’t be consistently enforced, throughout the whole field, than there is really no point of having that chance of somebody getting away with something another car couldn’t and getting penalized for it. There is a little bit of back and forth and trying to see where the limit is going to end up being, but at the end of the day – largely – how you approach this race track and how you run isn’t changed to much by it. But certainly, for some, depending on the direction it was going to go, potentially on certain corners, where you wouldn’t even think twice about being extra aggressive and getting all you can through it – depending on the corner. You see through the esses, all of a sudden, you get loose or you get two crossed up – you could be looking at a corner, where if I drive straight through this, I’m going to keep the car in one piece, but I’m going to get a pass through and then potentially if you try to drive through it, you could find yourself in left field. It is an interesting balance, but I think the biggest thing is they want it to be consistent through the field. We will see how it goes. It should be fun. I’ve always liked this track. We have to be really aggressive and push the limits – it’s just the nature of this course with having the curbs, and the paint and the grip that it has. We are all pretty quick to exploit it and maximize it to the rule book.”

How do you think the new restart zone will affect racing this weekend?

“I think cars mid pack or out back won’t be able to – I guess – to be as aggressive or have the opportunity to be just as relentless as they were last year. I could kind of see it happening behind me. When you have a clean track, you could kind of see the chaos happening behind you. Just with the makeup with this car and how tough the front and rear bumpers are – you can really knock someone out of the way and keep digging. You don’t destroy your radiator or damage your car to the extent of losing performance. They needed to do something to spread us out a little more and make it a little more fair and how a race should be versus us running into the back of each other. It was a good move. I think the first five or six cars that get through there will still be really, really close, but it should spread the field out enough where instead of trying to make a bold move that most likely won’t work out and dive bombing six cars, you only will be able to dive bomb one or two. You still might get to turn one and you still might wreck, but we will at least be spread out a little bit more and it won’t be as easy for someone to just ship it in there and say the heck with everybody else to the outside.”

Toyota Racing PR