DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (WGHP) — For driver Tyler Reddick, the Daytona 500 isn’t just the start of the season. It’s the start of a new era of his career.
This season marks Tyler Reddick‘s first driving the No. 45 car for 23XI Racing, the racing team of NBA legend Michael Jordan and three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin. Departing RCR Racing, Reddick joined 23XI in 2023, a year earlier than initially planned.
“It’s a huge opportunity for sure,” Reddick told WGHP’s Kevin Connolly and Danny Harnden during Wednesday’s Countdown to Daytona show. “When all this was going down, I didn’t know how it was going to turn out for this year, but thankfully it worked to where I could come a year early and get started working on the things that myself, Denny, the whole group have been wanting to set up and do for the future.”
When asked about why he turned to 23XI Racing, he said it was all about vision.
“The vision that Denny, Michael and the owners have for the organization and where they want it to go in the years ahead, their plan,” Reddick said. “Toyota’s an incredible manufacturer. They do a lot to support their teams and their drivers. They truly treat you like a family, which has been a really cool transition for me too. How the team operates as a whole, and how they prepare for each race weekend.
“There’s a lot of things that they do that I really liked. I was really excited to be a part of it, and it was really humbling to be asked to be a part of it. It was really cool to get it all worked out.”
Now, Reddick heads into the new season fresh off a year with three wins.
“It was a great year for us,” he said. “… It was really good to be able to finally break through and break through multiple times and get it done, but, certainly, when I look ahead to this year it’s going to be interesting to see how some of my strengths and weaknesses may shift. Certainly I hope to just get better as a driver as a whole, and we certainly worked on that in the off-season so we’ll see how it starts.”
That training will be put to the test Sunday as Reddick takes on the sold-out Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. 2023 will be the race’s 65th year and NASCAR’s 75th season.
Last year, Reddick ran into trouble on the track in Daytona. His car got loose and triggered a multi-car wreck with 49 laps to go. But he’s determined not to let that keep him from giving it his all this year.
“You have that many drivers that are that good and when no one’s giving an inch, things, incidents happen on the racetrack, and, unfortunately, I’ve been in a few of them,” he said. “The last time we were here, I was in it as well and still managed to have enough car to finish at the end of it. It’s just going to be about surviving this race. It’s going to get crazy at some point. When it happens, no one knows, and that’s why everyone ends up in those crashes.”
He says he’s going into this year’s Daytona 500 focused on staying the course with a focus on learning.
“I think everyone’s got high expectations, but for me, I’m not looking at the stats to say, ‘OK, is this a good year or not?’ It’s just about continuing that approach and that path to getting better that they have, and I just want to continue to get better as a racecar driver,” Reddick said. “And if I’m on the same rate of progression as the team is, I think we’ll be right where we want to be when the playoffs start.”