Double Xfinity champion Tyler Reddick believes he can make the playoffs in his first NASCAR Cup season in 2020, despite admitting that prediction ‘sounds crazy’.
Reddick won NASCAR’s second tier Xfinity series in 2018 and 2019, but a move to Richard Childress Racing last year realigned his path to the Cup series.
He will contest the full Cup season with RCR this year, after making two starts in 2019.
RCR took four poles last year but struggled for race performance, and none of its drivers made the playoffs in 2019.
But Reddick, who is replacing Daniel Hemric, said he is bullish about his chances.
«As crazy as it sounds, I feel like making the playoffs is not unrealistic,» Reddick told Autosport.
«All you have to do is put together one good race. If you can put together one good race, and put yourself in position, it’s going to be a matter of executing and making the most of that day.
«I think we’ll be in that position at some point before the playoffs start and if we can take advantage of it then we will.
«I realise how difficult it is to win a race in the Cup Series, especially as last year Joe Gibbs Racing won more than half of them, and Penske and Haas – Penske won a lot of races and Kevin Harvick won towards the end of the year.
«We’ve got a new body [new Chevrolet], we’ve got a new mindset, we’re pumped up and we’ll give it our best shot consistently.
«I really think we can make the playoffs and from there obviously it gets a bit challenging.
«Obviously that’s a long way from right now.»
While RCR did not make last year’s playoffs, Reddick said the team believes it understands why, and that a reset, allied to the new Chevrolet Camaro, should improve its form.
Teams last year had a choice of prioritising a poor start to a stint to come on strong at the end, or placing emphasis on a fast start to the stint and giving up speed at the end.
RCR went with the second option, which meant its cars struggled in traffic.
«Unfortunately it seems like the strategy they went with was more trimmed out race cars which put up great laps in practice and qualifying and could start the race OK, but if you got caught back in traffic or lost track position it was difficult to get it back,» added Reddick.
«Towards the end of the year they shifted to putting more downforce on the car ,whether that was with the body builds or the positioning of the car.
«Running at the front at Homestead, a place where downforce is very important, Austin Dillon ran in the top 10 all day and Daniel Hemric was a few spots behind.
«It showed the promise of what the capabilities could be.»
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