New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)

Teammates Reddick, Dillon eye final playoff spot at Daytona


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — There’s one guy Tyler Reddick doesn’t expect any help from at Daytona Internatio­nal Speedway on Saturday night: His teammate.

Reddick and fellow Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon are essentiall­y battling each other for the 16th and final spot in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. And that makes teamwork at the 21⁄2-mile superspeed­way downright tricky, maybe even unthinkabl­e, for the duo.

“Anything I do to help him, hurts me. Anything he does to help me, hurts him,” Reddick said. “So we really can’t work together at all, unfortunat­ely. It’s kind of a weird spot.”

Fourteen drivers have a shot at the last postseason berth, each of them needing a win at Daytona to clinch. Reddick and Dillon, though, are the only ones who can get in on points without a win. They need a repeat winner — 13 drivers have at least one victory this season — or a win as shocking as Michael McDowell’s stunner in the Daytona 500 to advance that way.

Reddick and Dillon would prefer to take all the guesswork out of the equation by winning themselves. And given their history at NASCAR’s birthplace, no one would be surprised to see either one in Victory Lane amid fireworks Saturday night.

Although Reddick is winless in 63 Cup starts, he has two victories at Daytona in other series. He won the 2015 Truck Series opener at Daytona while driving for Brad Keselowski Racing and won the 2018 Xfinity Series opener at Daytona with JR Motorsport­s.

He took the lead with nine laps to go at Daytona last August in another win-and-you’re-in scenario, but seconds later crashed trying to block Kyle Busch. Reddick, in fact, has crashed in three of four Cup starts at Daytona and never finished better than 27th.

“We’ve just got one more hurdle and, unfortunat­ely, it’s a big one,” Reddick said. “One with a lot of uncertaint­y, not just with who’s going to be running at the end but how much different the car is going to drive with the different horsepower and so many drivers below the cut line that are all out of options and desperate going into Daytona to do whatever it takes to win and lock themselves in as well.”

Dillon isn’t ready to panic.

After all, he’s been at his best at the birthplace of NASCAR. The 2018 Daytona 500 winner finished third here in February and won the 2015 Xfinity race at Daytona. He has 10 topfive finishes and 15 top-10s in 26 races (Cup and Xfinity) at the famed track.

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