Randall Burnett and Richard Childress Media Conference Road America

THE MODERATOR: We’re going to roll into our post-race coverage here for today’s QuikTrip 250 presented by Jockey here at Road America. We’ve now been joined by Randall Burnett, who’s the race-winning crew chief. Randall, you guys have been looking for this win or hoping for this win I should say for quite some time. What does it mean to be able to know that you guys have won this race but have also put yourself in position in the playoffs, as well?

RANDALL BURNETT: Well, I think it’s a pretty big deal for us, RCR, everybody at ECR, to finally get that win for Tyler. He’s worked really hard, especially at these road course tracks, to do everything he can to make himself the best he can be on these places, and it showed today. He went toe-to-toe with Chase, which is arguably one of the best road course racers we’ve got, and came out on top. I think that shows how much work and effort he’s put into it, and just really happy we gave him a car that he could go out and run with him.

Q. I was curious about that last pit stop because you said that you told the crew if they saw any indication that 9 was going in you guys were going to follow him. Because we’re down here and you guys were up there, the way the camera looked, it looked like Chase almost cut you guys off. I’m kind of wondering what that moment was like. We really didn’t have a good view of it from in here.

RANDALL BURNETT: Yeah, so we both didn’t have the greatest stops at the end of the race. Our guys, we closed the gap on him a little bit coming off pit road. I told Derek a few laps before that we were within our window, and if we saw the 9 come to pit road, we need to at least come with him.

We were talking about trying to maybe short pit him a lap but didn’t want to put ourselves right up against the window, too, in case a caution would come out. We had a big enough cushion and we were close enough to Chase to see what he was going to do, so it just kind of worked out a bunch of them had peeled off the lap before, and I think that kind of forced both ours and the 9’s hand to be like, okay, now we’re in the window, we’ve got a lap on fuel on almost everybody else that’s already pitted, it’s time to get in here and do it.

Like we said, we followed them down, and we got the jump out of the pit box and kind of got out, and it looked like Chase was kind of a little slow getting out of his box and tried to get out in front of him. It was just a good race off pit road. That allowed us to close the gap up to him and put a little bit more pressure on him for sure towards the end of the race.

THE MODERATOR: Now we’ve also been joined by race winning owner here, Richard Childress. Richard, you’ve been a longtime supporter of Tyler, obviously bringing him on board at RCR several years ago but fighting for that first victory in the NASCAR Cup Series. What does it mean to know that that has been accomplished today?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: It’s great to see Tyler Reddick in the winner’s circle. It wasn’t a matter of if he was going to do it, it was when they were going to win. That’s what we kept telling them. Had a couple of meetings, all of us, and talked about what it’s going to take to get us in the winner’s circle, and that’s not beat yourself and be solid, and that’s what these guys did today, and they did that.

When you beat Chase Elliott, you beat one of the best, and Hendrick’s guys, hats off to them, they’ve got their four cars in, we’ve got one of ours. We’ve got one more to try to get in. So we’re going to be a contender for the championship, right?


RICHARD CHILDRESS: That’s the answer I wanted.

Q. We’ve all watched Tyler mature over the last three or four years, but I’m just curious, Richard, I can remember you all throughout your career, when you find a guy and you really light on to him, you can find talented drivers. I’m just wondering what was it specifically about Tyler that you said, I want to bring this guy in, I know I can build an organization around him?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: You know, I’ve watched Tyler since he was running the trucks. He struggled a little bit there, but he was always driving the trucks to their limit. Then when he got in the Xfinity at JR Motorsports, he was the same. He drove — he’s got so much talent, he just pushes that limit every week, and I knew between Randall and myself and talking with him, and I told him this morning, you’re going to win this race, we just can’t beat ourselves; be solid. I think I told y’all that on the radio when the race started.

I was just proud of what these guys have done and accomplished, and it’s been a huge team effort, and to have our engines today out there running like they were, the HCD engines that Hendrick and I are working together to develop, it made me feel really good.

Q. Randall, would you have guessed that your first Cup win and Tyler’s first Cup win would come on a road course?

RANDALL BURNETT: Well, not originally I wouldn’t think that, but like I said, Tyler has worked really hard over the past couple years at these road courses. In 2019 on the Xfinity side, he was like, man, I hate road course racing; I’m not very good at it. He’s pretty good at everything he does, so for him to say that, it was a little bit of a challenge. We came here and we ran really good in the Xfinity car.

So I was excited when they put this race on the schedule. This is a great place. It’s a cool place to come for the 4th of July. I give Tyler a lot of the credit for success on the road course stuff. We’ve obviously got to put a good car underneath him, but he’s went above and beyond on effort to get better at road course racing.

I think that’s a nice little cherry on top for him to know that he’s worked that hard to get as good as he has on these places, so I think it’s pretty special for him to actually win on a road course for the first time.

Q. Earlier this year at Kansas he told me about when you were coming up through racing your brother labeled you with the nickname P2 for all the times you placed second. Now you’re finally P1.

RANDALL BURNETT: Yeah, that’s nice. I can finally go to my brother and tell him he can’t call me P2 anymore. That comes from me racing late models and finishing runner-up all the time in the late model stock deal.

It’s kind of funny, they labeled me that throughout the years, and of course we’ve finished second with Tyler I think five or six times now. They give me a lot of trouble for that, so it’s finally really good to break that.

Q. Richard, you’ve come so close to that first win so many times, so many near misses. When a guy finally gets over the hump and gets that first win, how much weight can be lifted off his shoulders just in terms of future progress from that point forward?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, I think he said it well when he was talking about Tyler putting the effort in. He does work really hard at it. Both drivers work really hard. I was going to bring him over and talk to him like we did here, and just sit down and talk some. I knew this would be a good shot he had at winning this race, and he was over at the road course at Charlotte on the go-kart track practicing.

We talked a little bit up here this morning that we knew what we could do here to get it right.

As far as being nervous at the end of the race, four or five laps to go, I said, we just don’t need a caution. Then with two to go I guess it was, the 3 blew a left front rotor coming into 5, and I said, here we go again, here’s that caution. But he was able to get off and go straight and saved the day for us.

Q. Randy, obviously three road courses this year, three first-time winners. It’s commonplace out here; I think three or four Xfinity winners out here have been first-time winners. Why do road courses seem to produce more first-time winners?

RANDALL BURNETT: That’s a great question. I don’t know that there’s a specific reason for it. I think a lot of it’s circumstantial, like how the cautions fall, hot your pit strategy falls. Today’s race we obviously didn’t have any cautions except the stage cautions, so it was pretty straightforward. I know we came in with a game plan that we felt like we were far enough out in points that if anybody else had won, we were going to be in a whole lot of trouble.

We came in and we elected not to take any stage points. We called the race aggressive to try to give ourselves track position. We said that. We said that in the truck. We all talked about it, and we’re like, we came here to win, and that’s what we’re going to try to do today. We called the race that way.

I think Sonoma is the same way; the 99 did a similar thing there.

Obviously the race at COTA was pretty crazy at the end with Ross.

I don’t know. I don’t know why road courses produce a lot of first-time winners. I don’t know. I enjoy road course racing. I like it. I think it’s a lot of fun, especially with these Next-Gen cars. It’s a lot of fun for these guys with big brakes and everything that we’ve got on these things.

Q. Randall, Richard kind of hit on it, but the hub failure by the 3, what was going through your mind when you saw a team car have that issue?

RANDALL BURNETT: Well, a lot of teams had saw some issue with some cracking in the rotors, this, that and the other. NASCAR allowed us to change rotors if we thought it necessary.

Everybody took a look at their rotors. I know the 3 had a little bit of problem with theirs. This place is a little tricky and we’re still learning a lot about the braking system on these new cars. It’s a little bit tricky in the fact that their straightaways are so long and at the end of the them there’s such a high braking zone or high pressure on the brakes to get low down for the next corner, especially at like into 1, into 5 and into Canada Corner back there that it kind of shocks the rotors and sometimes you’ll see when they have a big heat change at a rapid pace, they’ll sometimes crack a little bit. We saw a little bit of that in practice.

I was a little bit surprised we didn’t see a little bit more of that in the race actually.

Fortunately for ours, we looked pretty good in practice, and I wasn’t overly worried about it, but there was definitely some teams that had some issues.

Q. Randall, when you talk about aggressive in terms of pit calling, I know your last two stops you guys followed Chase in, so in one sense it was easy. I know the first stage you went in a lap early. When you’re talking about aggressive, what do you mean in terms of aggressive calling because it seemed like you were kind of shadowing the 9.

RANDALL BURNETT: So the first — we’ve got to be in the first stage, we had fell far enough back that the time that we need to get on pit road and get to the commitment line is about five and a half, six seconds here, from the time behind the leader at that point. We had fallen just behind that the first stage, so that’s what made us pit three laps instead of two laps from the end. We were close enough the second stage, we were within I think four seconds at the end of that one, so we were able to pit with him.

You know, just shorten the stages. Some guys stay out for points, things like that. That’s what I meant by calling it a little bit aggressive. But here I think it was pretty straightforward you’re going to have to do that right off the bat. The pace falloff wasn’t near as bad as it was last year I don’t think, so it kind of leaned towards doing that, short pitting the stages to try to keep your track position when the caution came out.

Q. For both of you, I know the saying is “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and I’m sure those runner-up finishes were great finishes, but it’s not those wins. There have been some tough times admittedly the last few years. What got you through and what got you guys to this moment today? For you, Richard, what got you, and for Randall, what got you and this team together to get to this moment?

RANDALL BURNETT: I think a lot of hard work by a lot of people, honestly. We worked hard up at RCR, worked hard with this Next-Gen car getting it off the ground in our shop. We’ve put a lot of effort into this deal and worked really hard up there. We’ve got some great people up in the shop. We’ve got ECR engines. They’re a huge help for us.

I don’t know, I think just everybody carrying their weight and pulling together and pulling the rope in the same direction. I think it’s come a long way since I’ve been there. I started there in 2017 on the Xfinity side, and I think the 8 team and the 3 team work together about as good as any teammates I’ve ever seen, a lot of support there between the two teams, so that’s something special to have, and I think it helps us grow our company.

RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, I think he hit on about everything. I think it’s just never give up, never quit, keep digging. I think that’s what we all did. We all keep talking about winning. Being able to win here is just a feather in the hat to everybody at RCR and ECR.

Q. What does it mean, Richard, to get the win, get in the playoffs, get that potential for extra bonus money for down the road with the way the charter system is and all the things that a win means for an organization and being able to get that for the first time in a couple years?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: You know, I think this win puts the 8 in the Chase, and that’s what we put a lot of effort into this race, because this would be the race we knew he could win. I told him this morning he was going to win. We were able to pull it off.

Getting in the Chase, we don’t just want to get in the Chase. We talk about being a contender for the championship, and I think we can. I truly think that we will be a contender for the championship when we get into it. Now we’ve got to get the 3 in, so we’ve got to put a lot of effort there.

Q. Richard, I think going back to Ryan Newman’s final win with you, the last four RCR wins have been really last-minute pit strategy calls or the Daytona 500 which was a last-lap incident. This race you went out, you took it convincingly, it was yours. Does this feel different than those last batch of wins that this team has earned?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, I think anytime you go out and beat the best, it feels good. Like I said earlier, to beat Chase, he’s won how many out of the last how many. He’s won a lot of the road courses. To be able to go out and beat him, I think that gives us a lot more strength going into the Chase, and I think when you drive and you go out there and you beat him and you win the race, that’s what you’ve got to do.

Q. Randall, was it you who told Tyler over the radio I think maybe seven laps or something like that, out the windshield, don’t look in the mirror; was that you?

RANDALL BURNETT: That was Derek. I was talking to Derek, too, trying to keep him calm. Derek does a great job on that. He’s our spotter. He does a really good job. Him and Tyler work really good together. Derek does a good job with Tyler like helping him manage traffic, helping him manage everything, especially when he was leading like that. Just letting him know, hey, man, you’ve got plenty of pace here. The 9 is using his stuff up behind you trying to get to you and he’s using it up and just trying to keep his cool with him, and Derek does a great job with that.

Q. Over the years what kind of coaching does Tyler respond to the best in these kind of high-tension scenarios?

RANDALL BURNETT: I think the way Derek handles it is pretty good. Just give him enough information. Don’t overly coach him. Don’t coach him every corner but give him enough information so he understands what’s going on around him, so he understands, hey, I’m pushing 95 percent, the 9 looks like he’s pushing 100 percent behind us so I can pace myself, and Derek does a good job of helping him manage that.

Tyler doesn’t need a whole lot of cheerleading a lot of times. Sometimes he gets down on himself a little bit and beats himself up if he makes a mistake. I think that’s the biggest thing with him is you’ve just got to keep him pumped up and let him know we can’t dwell on it, we’ve got to get on with it and go about our day.

Q. Richard, I believe it’s the second win for RCR at this track, Menard went out in the Xfinity a couple years ago. What does a win at Road America mean for you and the organization?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: You know, this is a great track. I love coming up here. Brandon Gaughan won his first race here, also, and so did Paul — not his first. It may have been the last race here. I can’t remember. One of them did.

It’s just a special place. It’s just a challenging racetrack, and the drivers — a lot of it’s in the drivers’ hands, how they can do it, attack it, and not overdo it. He had some good coaching today from Derek, and I’m just happy to be up here again at my old age still winning. That’s all I can say.

Q. You guys were mentioning at the end there where Austin was having trouble? Does Tyler kind of owe Austin one for him pulling off?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: No, no, he just did what he had to do. He would have got off. We just didn’t want to see a caution. We talked to him earlier, him and the 14 and 2, there was about five of them back there racing and beating and banging, and he got knocked off — 19 knocked him off in the corner over here. I said, oh, here we go, here’s a caution. So he gathered it back up, so they had a good race, and we won. That’s what counts.

THE MODERATOR: Richard, one final question. I know the sponsor on Tyler’s car today is a newer one to RCR. What does it mean when sponsors can get their first win, as well?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: You know, to Justin Turner right here, he’s the owner of 3Chi, and for us to get NASCAR to let us bring in — it’s a Delta 8, correct? I just asked for some a while ago. I had a back operation. My back is bothering me. So I’m going to use it tonight. To be able to bring a company in, a whole new category to racing, and to be able to have 3Chi on the car on our first win with Tyler, that’ll go down in history. We made history by bringing — and Justin reaching out and taking a gamble on us.

I think at Indy, you seen us at Indy that’s where you talked to us, that’s where the company is out of, and to be able to bring a win for them and to let people know how important to have them in our sport is, it’s a big win for all of us.

THE MODERATOR: Randall and Richard, congratulations again on this victory. I know you will enjoy this one, and we thank you for spending some time with us.