For many drivers in championship contention, this could potentially be a make-or-break weekend in at least two of NASCAR’s three premier series at Talladega Superspeedway.
Even though he’s 19 years old, Tyler Reddick is aware of the sense of urgency coming into Saturday’s Fred’s 250 Truck race.
Reddick is third in the Camping World Truck Series, 16 points behind series leader Erik Jones and 12 points behind two-time defending series champ Matt Crafton.
“To be able to truly win the championship we’re gonna have to win a couple races,” Reddick said Friday at Talladega. “We won two races early in the year and hit a stretch where we weren’t in the right position to be able to win a race, but we were able to get top fives and be able to stay pretty close with those other two.
“The last couple races consistency-wise we’ve made a few mistakes and we’ve had bad races, which we haven’t really had all year long. So we put ourselves in position where we have to win, but I feel like it’s no different than any other weekend we’ve come into.”
The Corning, Calif., native has taken to restrictor-plate tracks, including a win to start this season at Daytona.
In his only start at Talladega (last season), he came away with a top-five.
“I always enjoy coming back to superspeedway race tracks,” Reddick said. “Things can happen pretty fast here in the closing laps and we’ve had good trucks here in the past and we’ve had good luck.”
Even though he has made only three starts combined in a Truck between Daytona and Talladega, Reddick has learned his lessons well.
“Early on it’s really easy to think, ‘Oh, I can step out of line and someone will follow me and go to the front early on in these races,’ and a lot of times it just doesn’t happen,” he said. “You’ve got to have a lot of patience and wait for that right moment and opportunity to come about if you’re in that situation.
“Fortunately, Daytona earlier this year we were up front a lot and led, and we didn’t really have to worry about getting to the front because we were already there.
“You can make things happen (at Talladega) pretty fast if the draft and the line gets out of shape a little bit, if they break their momentum, so it just depends. This race is won a thousand different ways — it has been and it will continue to be that way.”
While Reddick hopes to cut into the gap separating him from Jones and Crafton, he also hopes to parlay his own championship hopes with those of team owner Brad Keselowski.
In essence, two championships are riding on Reddick’s shoulders.
“The championship as an owner is a really big deal for him in the Truck Series,” Reddick said of Keselowski. “Last year they were really close and this year here we are again pretty close being in contention for it.
“This is a really big deal for Brad. This is something he’s been wanting for a long time. Obviously, ever since he became an owner in the Truck Series, he’s been wanting to win championships and he’s one step closer and closer to that.
“I feel like the team as a whole has gotten bigger, we’ve gotten better, we’ve gotten faster and we continue to creep closer and closer to it. Hopefully, this is the year the team and he’s able to get his dream and be a Truck Series champion owner.”