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Reddick embraces underdog role

Tyler Reddick grabbed the final spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and plans to make the most of the opportunity.

The Richard Childress Racing driver finished fifth in the regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway. Despite a race car that was battered and bruised after Reddick was involved in a number of incidents last Saturday night, the finish was good enough to earn advancement.

“Now that we’re in these playoffs, certainly it will be a lot easier to allow the pressure to get to us,” Reddick said. “But I’m not going to lie, Saturday was one of the most pressure-packed nights of my life and I thought we handled it pretty well.

“I thought we handled that situation as well as we could. It makes us even more prepared and ready for this first round, the rounds after, if we can do our part and get there.”

There’s no denying Reddick will have an uphill climb as the playoffs begin Sunday with the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. However, he’s not letting the naysayers get to him, and in fact, is using some of that doubt as motivation. Reddick and crew chief Randall Burnett have a strategy they hope will play out to help their goal of advancing beyond the opening round.

“I mean, I would say to win races you need to be relevant all day long,” he said. “The only places you can really pop in and steal wins, when fuel mileage has come into play, in the past is on superspeedways. …

“For most of this year, especially once we got it rolling the way it needed to be, we were running inside the top 10 a lot, having shots, one pit stop or one decision here or there away from top five, which unfortunately haven’t had a lot of those this year. But we’ve been right there. Little details will either make or break this playoff run for us.”

Reddick plans to employ that line of thinking right out of the gate. His Daytona finish translated to a seventh-place starting spot at Darlington, which Reddick believes will be of great benefit to putting a good finish on the board.

“Oh, my gosh, this fifth-place finish was not only good to finally finish fifth, in the top five at Daytona, but it looks like it’s going to help our starting position at Darlington where there’s only I think 13 points between myself and sixth right now,” he said.

“I think we’re going to see a lot of shakeup just right away in how tight everybody is, how it’s going to spread out just in this first race at Darlington. We’re going to try to take advantage of that.”