Tyler Reddick probably had this one circled on his calendar.
The surprise 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion had a bit of a roller-coaster ride of a season, quite honestly with a few more downs than ups. But there was one thing in particular Reddick did well in 2018 — ride the rim on old-pavement.
Reddick was running inside the top five at Atlanta before a tire failure ended his day. He led laps at Chicago before a mistake on pit road ended up getting him involved in a wreck. He ran second at Darlington.
Everywhere else? Well, not so great.
Reddick capitalized on a lap one crash at Kansas which saw Justin Allgaier take out Christopher Bell, Austin Cindric and a host of others. He managed a fifth place finish there, but held a big enough advantage from that race alone to make it to Miami.
Upon arrival in Homestead, Reddick was installed as a favorite by anyone who had been paying attention all year. It was directly in his wheelhouse — an old, worn out mile and a half that forces you to push the limits and run right beside the wall.
It was the perfect storm for Reddick. Once the race took on a green flag run late, it was done. Jeff Mendering’s puzzling call to keep Cole Custer out late into the penultimate tire run only helped seal his fate.
Reddick blistered the field over those final twenty laps, extending his lead by tenths a lap.
I wrote about Joey Logano’s playoff moment being exactly what NASCAR wanted out of a playoff system, but is Reddick’s playoff run worthy of a title. The two cases are extremely different, but the result was the same.
If the final race was run anywhere else, would Reddick stand a chance? Probably not, considering Christopher Bell’s stranglehold on speed throughout the year.
A handful — maybe even a select few — really know how to get around the top at Miami. Kyle Larson and Tyler Reddick probably top that list across all series. It’s why you see the garage area tremble at the thought of Larson making a final four one day, despite Larson never being able to capture a checkered flag in Homestead. He’s clearly the class of the field down there.
It begs the question, should NASCAR’s Super Bowl weekend be run on such a unique track where a few drivers have a specific advantage? The answer is probably a no. But it paints a picture of a bigger issue.
NASCAR’s title shouldn’t come down to a singular race. You’re at the mercy of the drivers around you. You’re depending on outside factors like Goodyear tires. Mechanical failure can end anyone’s day at any given moment.
A playoff format is fine. It’s needed. It creates drama. But a four race run to the title instead of a winner take all format seems like a much more fair way to do this.
Look no further than 2018 Xfinity Series champion Tyler Reddick as to why.