Photo credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography

Frustration aside, Tyler Reddick poised for deep playoff run

Tyler Reddick's frustration was evident as he fell short of victory lane Sunday in Chicago, but his second-place finish put him much closer to a deep playoff run.

Six races remain in the regular season. Reddick is now third in the Cup standings and only 23 points behind leader Kyle Larson. He has a realistic shot to overtake Chase Elliott and Larson and win the regular-season championship, thus securing 15 bonus playoff points.

Even if Reddick ends the regular season third in the standings, he will still secure nine bonus playoff points. That would be significant considering that he only has eight playoff points after 20 races, one win, and three stage wins.

This will give him a bigger cushion entering the Round of 16, which includes wild card tracks in Atlanta Motor Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway.

Reddick has only moved past the Round of 16 one time in three playoff appearances, something he achieved last season by winning at Kansas.

Bonus playoff points are crucial once the 16-driver field is set. Back in 2022, Elliott used the points earned through wins and the regular-season championship to make it to the Championship 4. He overcame DNFs at Darlington and Texas in the process.

Last season, Martin Truex Jr. won the regular-season championship after winning three races, but he struggled during the playoffs. He finished 17th or worse in every race of the Round of 16 and Round of 12 but still advanced to the Round of 8 with his bonus points.

Reddick already had a spot in the playoffs after winning at Talladega Superspeedway, but his move to third place in the standings is due to recent consistency. Reddick has six top-10 finishes and four top-fives in the last seven races.

"In some ways, at least we're getting some good finishes out of it and getting good points days, but certainly playoff points mean a lot," Reddick said after Sunday's race in Chicago.

"And the last two weeks have been fantastic opportunities to capitalize on it and win some races, and wins are hard to come by. It's really tough when you play a heavy role in them not coming to reality."

Reddick has expressed frustration with himself after back-to-back top-three finishes. He told media members that he "didn't get the job done" in Nashville after failing to pass winner Joey Logano in the closing laps.

Reddick then said that he screwed up and wasn't focused enough in Chicago. He had faster lap times on slicks than race-winner Alex Bowman on wet-weather tires, but he clipped the wall on the final lap and fell out of contention for the win.

"I can't really tell what it did, but it bent the wheel, and the right front was kind of wandering on its own the rest of the lap," Reddick said. "At that point, the gap formed back up because I didn't want to drive into Turn 6 and hit the tire barrier and finish last.

"I had a gap back to Ty (Gibbs) so I was just trying to manage it, and it seemed like in a lot of the right-hand corners without the weight on that now broken part of the car, I could run okay, but certainly after I hit the wall that hard, my hopes of catching him were gone."

Reddick hasn't capitalized on opportunities to win at Nashville and Chicago. He has still continued to stockpile points. If he can maintain this consistency at Pocono, Indianapolis, and the rest of the tracks in the regular season, he will only put himself in a better position as he tries to reach the championship race in Phoenix.