The Chronicles of Reddick. Win at COTA.

Let’s start this off with a huge hand clap for Tyler Reddick as he overcame a difficult track under hot conditions battling an opponent who was better than he was on restarts. Reddick led 41 laps while battling William Byron, who led 28, in a race that saw them seesaw the lead back and forth after starting out on the front row.

That meant that from the drop of the green flag, the two rarely allowed another car to lead all day and neither driver was able to sustain any lead over the other for very long until the very end of the race.

As much as you may not like, or even hate, road courses you have to give props to the drivers for giving the fans a battle like this. Granted, the 45 and 24 cars sure looked to be the class of the field but other drivers were right there and could have been a serious win contender had they been able to take the lead. But that is the nature of the road course where defending your line is as important and getting to the lead.

NASCAR instituted a new rule at the road courses this year with no yellow flags for stage wins. I like that rule a lot and would like to see it across the entire race season. That means the only cautions are for on track issues and there were plenty of those. The first caution was just a couple of laps in that saw Jimmie Johnson eliminated from the race. Bubba Wallace exited right behind him after contact and saw the driver of the 23 car visibly upset with himself.

As we chronicle the Tyler Reddick race, it has to be noted that he was talking with his team about restarts towards the end of the race. He knew that Byron had him on restarts with his faster speed and Reddick made up ground in braking zones. But that process took too long and would allow Byron to get away from him after every restart. They made some adjustments to how Reddick was approaching his restarts and lo and behold, he started make headway against Byron.

While the rest of the field was losing its collective mind, the front half dozen or so cars were respectfully going at each other in some great door to door racing. And because of the no stage caution rule, some other strategies played out to put some new contenders up front which made the racing more interesting in the closing laps. Suddenly, Alex Bowman and Kyle Busch were up front and Ross Chastain overcame a difficult day to race for the lead. Austin Cindric just missed out on a Top 5 finish after a great day of racing up front thanks to the crazy restarts.

It was the three overtime restarts that took their toll on the field, including the leaders. Reddick fended off Byron just enough to let Rowdy and Bowman get past Byron as well, denying him his third win. But behind them, drivers were running out of track, time and talent. And there is my issue with road courses.

Things of note: change road course restarts

My issue with road courses is the way NASCAR handles the restarts. And it’s not just NASCAR. Watch any F1 Indy race and you’ll see much of the same thing: drivers bombing the first turn on restarts to gain as much ground as they can, often forcing themselves into untenable situations and wrecking themselves and others in the process.

As much as was made about drivers respecting each other as they raced hard, there is absolutely no respect being shown on restarts, especially in overtime. It looks like an expensive game of bumper cars upon every restart as drivers pile into a narrow turn. NASCAR needs to rethink the restarts to another section of the track that allows for more time before cars are all funneled into chute where few will survive. Obviously the drivers can’t police that themselves as they are all just diving in, fingers crossed that they will come out the other side in better shape than their opponents.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Is that any way to run a race?

And I am a huge fan of road courses, way more than that dirt track disaster they call Bristol or the short track hell called the Coliseum. But without changes to the way these restarts happen, we are going to see more of insanity every road course. Not a fan.

Next up: Richmond

Now we get back to the meat of the schedule with three short tracks: Richmond, Bristol (dirt) and Martinsville. Richmond is 400 laps of hit your marks or else. Kevin Harvick won this race in the fall and Denny Hamlin is the defending spring race winner. Martin Truex, Jr. has two wins here in the past six and Alex Bowman and Brad Keselowski each have one.

When Truex isn’t winning, he is finishing in the Top 5 so this should be a good race for the Joe Gibbs teams. Watch Christopher Bell.

Leading the most laps isn’t a recipe for success at Richmond. Joey Logano led 222 laps in the fall but finished 6th. Byron and Ryan Blaney led 122 and 128 respectively last spring and lost. Hamlin led 197 and lost to Truex. Hamlin led 207 and lost to Bowman. In the last six races, only Brad Keselowski led the most laps and still won.

Get the picture?

Chevy hasn’t won in the last 6 races when Bowman stole the race from Hamlin in2021. Bowman and Byron have shown a lot of speed this season but that isn’t the only key to a win at Richmond. Kyle Larson has the best average finish at short tracks since 2020 but not at Richmond.

For the Ford teams, Joey Logano, Keselowski and Harvick are going to be your usual suspects. But look to Aric Almirola if you are looking for a driver to crack the Top 10 and give you a decent finish. A couple of other sneaky Fords of Chase Briscoe or Chris Buescher could get your attention this week as well.

That’s my take on the race and Richmond. Hope your driver gets you a win this week before the travesty known as Bristol Dirt comes at us.

Have anything to add to The Chronicles of Reddick?   Leave your thoughts below.  Stay frosty and keep the shiny side up.

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images/NASCAR Media)

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