It was too little too late for Tyler Reddick.
Despite an impressive and, at times, entertaining charge up the leaderboard in the final laps of the Dixie Vodka 400, Reddick finished second Sunday night. He was over two seconds behind winner William Byron at the checkered flag at Homestead-Miami Speedway. A difference that perhaps Reddick could have made up if he started the final run a little better.
“I just didn’t have a very good last restart,” Reddick said. “We kind of struggled to get our Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen Chevy going, and I had just a poor restart, and it was the difference, unfortunately.
“That’s all there is to it. Needed to be able to hold on better at the start and just didn’t.”
The race restarted for the final time with 58 laps to go. Reddick knew going into it that he needed a well-executed restart, but he didn’t have one, and it took him time to get around “really good drivers.”
Reddick ran 12th with 40 laps to go and soon after that started to find what he needed by running inches from the outside wall. With 23 laps to go, Reddick sat seventh. He was inside the top five with 18 laps to go.
But Reddick was over 10 seconds behind the leaders when he started to make some noise. With 10 laps to go, he ran fourth and quickly began closing on Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr., the only two drivers left that Reddick was able to overtake.
“Yeah, when you see how much faster you were than the guys in front of you and you know you’re running out of time, it gets frustrating,” Reddick said. “You can go back and look at one or two things that would have changed the outcome.”
Having started 35th, the finish was a change of fortune for Reddick and his Richard Childress Racing team after struggling for much of the event. Unlike last season where Reddick would fire off strong and fade late, Homestead was the opposite. Reddick acknowledged they brought a good race car, but it just didn’t show it until the end.
Two rough weeks in Daytona put Reddick in a hole to kick off the season, and while second place “is great,” he is still “way back in the mess.” But perhaps there can be something to learn from Homestead.
“There are positives, but there isn’t a whole lot you can take away from here and apply at other racetracks as a driver and how you drive the track,” said Reddick. “But how you execute and all that, you can kind of apply going forward.”