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The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Tyler Reddick, the defending Xfinity Series champion who drives for Richard Childress Racing. These interviews are recorded as a podcast but are also transcribed for those who prefer to read.
1. Are you an iPhone person or an Android person, and why?
I don’t have a very good explanation; I guess I’m a creature of habit. Ever since I was really young, I had one of the first iPhones. I realize they are more expensive than most Android phones. But I’ve always been an iPhone guy, always been a MacBook guy ever since I was really young.
2. If a fan meets you in the garage, they might only have a brief moment with you. So between an autograph, a selfie or quick comment, what is your advice on the best way to maximize that interaction?
I mean, in a minute I feel like you can get a lot done. You can sign an autograph, you can take a picture with a fan. What was the last thing, a comment?
Yeah, they could say something to you.
I feel like in a minute you can easily accomplish all that stuff. You can walk and sign easily — obviously as you’re walking they can say stuff to you. Taking a picture is sometimes hard (with) older phones. (With newer phones) the motion stability and all that stuff, you can pretty much take pictures of anything on the go now. So I feel like there’s plenty of time for all three.
3. When someone pulls a jerk move on the road when you’re driving down the highway, does that feeling compare at all to when someone pulls a jerk move on the track?
I handle what happens on the racetrack a lot better. I lose my mind on the road.
Yes. Absolutely. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but the last incident happened on the racetrack and I handled it pretty well realizing I’ve got a long race to go. Like “I can get to the end of the race to win this thing.”
What happens on the road, there’s no race to win, I’m just driving. So I handle road rage off the racetrack a lot worse than I do on the racetrack. On the racetrack, I have no problem — I can run into the back of somebody and wreck them and I’m not going to go to jail for it. If I get mad at somebody and wreck them on the highway, I’m probably going to get into a lot of trouble and lose my license if you get caught. If there’s no witnesses, they never know.
Wow, you’ve thought this through.
I’ve gotten pretty mad a few times on the road. You know, it’s kind of funny when you’re a race car driver — you expect other drivers to drive the same level that you would and be smart on the road and not do dumb things like pull out right in front of somebody on a highway and then don’t speed up. When you’re a good driver, you expect people to drive like good drivers. But when you’re a bad driver, you’re just OK with everybody else being a bad driver.
I think Richard Petty got busted one time for doing something on the road. Have you heard of this?
No, I never have.
I’m pretty sure that Richard Petty was running for political office one time and he had to bow out because he put his bumper to someone in the fast lane who was riding slow, and he got impatient with them and he got in trouble or something and that ruined his political campaign.
One time I remember driving to meet BKR (he drove a Truck for Brad Keselowski Racing) for the bowling league and I flashed a guy in front of me that was just riding the left lane as fast as the people in the right lane. And he got mad, sped up, pulled over, then when he pulled over I went to pass and he tried to drive me off the road, blocking me, and then when he pulled up to the side of me, he pulled a gun on me.
He was crazy. And I’ve had other situations where I lost my cool on somebody and then they tailed me for 40 minutes. It’s funny because I don’t know what that guy was hoping to accomplish, but I had a full tank and I just drove around in circles for 40 minutes laughing while this person had his high beams on, his horn blasting constantly. They were videotaping me, but they didn’t catch beforehand what made him mad. They surely had the video tape of them tailing me. There’s some sort of law, I was told, that if you tail somebody for so long where it’s obvious they’re following you for so many miles it’s like against the law. But they had that on film at least.
I’ve seen some interesting things happen on the road whether it’s road rage or just pure accident. The other day when I was heading to RCR, I was just going down the road and I happened to glance over on the left lane, I saw a car hit the K-rail and just started flipping. It was wild. Right in front of me. And it was construction, so I couldn’t stop. There was nowhere to pull off the road and stop. I mean the car is still flipping and there’s people already out of their cars running towards the accident. It was crazy. I don’t know what ended up happening to that person, but crazy things happen in construction areas, that’s all I can say.
4. Has there ever been a time where you’ve had a sketchy situation with your safety equipment?
One time when I was really young racing Outlaw Karts, I used to wear arm restraints. If you ran open wheel, you ran arm restraints, it was a given — unless you’re crazy and you just had balls of steel.
But my arm restraint, my dad used to help me to put my seatbelts on when I was really young. And this was probably the last time he ever put my seatbelts on for me. I was just so young, I didn’t know what I was doing; I was like five or six years old I think.
My arm restraint got underneath the latch, and I didn’t realize it because I just had my hands resting on my side. When I went on the racetrack and turned it in a corner with my arms for the first time, it undid my seatbelts in the go-kart. And that was an Outlaw Kart — I was only going 50 miles an hour — but those things flip and crazy things happen. So it was unsettling to say the least.
But in recent memory, I can’t remember having a seatbelt fail or anything like that, so I’ve been pretty fortunate.
5. If your crew chief put a super secret illegal part on your car that made it way faster, would you want to know about it?
Absolutely, yeah. I mean, we’re all in this together. Like I understand that there’s some grey areas they don’t want me to know about, probably to give them their own safety. The people work so hard on these race cars now and there’s such a tight window around each car and there’s so many gray areas and so different many places that I don’t know if anyone ever really is super blatantly cheating.
But if it ever was super super obvious, if I could know to help keep us from getting in trouble at times, that would be good. But maybe at the same time maybe it’s best that I don’t know.
Being the driver, working on my dirt cars and trying to push all the limits we could, I never tire doped, but apparently that something that was a huge gain on the dirt tracks. You can’t do that over here on the asphalt, just the way it all works.
It’s one of those things where if I could help keep our secret, then yeah. But if it’s an area where I can’t help keep the secret, then it’s probably best I don’t know, because then I’m not potentially messing it up and exposing it if we are trying to get away with said secret.
6. What is a food you would not recommend eating right before a race and are you speaking with personal experience with this recommendation?
So when I was in Vegas, I had lobster. I like eating seafood because I feel like I can eat a good amount of seafood and other than the one off-chance that it makes me sick, I feel really great on race day and I feel like I ate something that’s fulfilling but doesn’t make me feel bloated or whatever when I get in the race car.
But for some reason, the lobster I ate disagreed with me a little bit. I wouldn’t say I was having issues in the race car, but all day leading up to it, it was messy business.
That’s unfortunate. I don’t envy that.
It happens. When you grow up eating Taco Bell on the road and eating nothing but volatile food, you get pretty tough. So I’ve been fortunate to only have a few mishaps.
7. Is there life in outer space, and if so, do they race?
I mean there’s always racing of some kind, right? We have runners that race in the Olympics, we have swimming. That’s a race to me. Life in a sense is a race if you wanted to look at it. So, absolutely.
I think there’s something out there. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know if human beings as we are today understand or can say that there is life, because life can mean a million different things and how something lives could be beyond our comprehension. I think there’s a possibility. If there’s planets out there, there’s got to be something out there. There’s a reason for it other than for us to look at and say, “Oh look, Pluto.” Oh, that’s not a planet now, my bad. It’s not good enough anymore.
8. What do drivers talk about when they’re standing around at driver intros before a race?
It depends on who you’re around. When I’m around guys like Matt Crafton who I know I’ve made really mad on the racetrack in the past, I like to go up (and say something). Sometimes when I was a little bit younger and I was a little more stupid at times…
I remember the first time I was ever in Kentucky when I got no practice, no qualifying and we lined up based off owner points. I went up to Matt right before the start of the race and I said, “Hey, Brad (Keselowski) told me we don’t have to lift around this racetrack.” And this was old Kentucky (more worn out), and he looked at me like, “No, you have to lift!” I freaked him out, I think. I’m going to tell myself I got to him, because I beat him on the start. My first-ever laps on Kentucky Speedway, I led them — and I didn’t even know where I was going.
So I’ve said stuff like that, and then I’ve been the guy that just sits there. Normally I’m pissed off so I don’t really want to talk to anybody right before the race since I’m never really happy unless we’re two or three tenths better than everybody. So I’m always mad when I’m getting ready for the race.
That’s so funny though. You trolled somebody — and a veteran at that. You’re just like, “I’m going to go troll a guy.”
Well, that first year I ran full-time up against him, he was always getting mad at me for racing too hard. I’m just a dirt guy and I like to race really hard, and I didn’t understand the consequences of side-drafting people too hard. So I just raced really hard all the time when I didn’t have to. And I’ve understood that a little bit now.
So when I asked him that, he thought I was being dead serious — and he really thought I was going to do it! Like I know he did. I think that’s why his reaction was such. He would have known I was joking now, but I had no experience and I was known for driving way too hard all the time. So I’m sure I had him convinced I was actually going to try it.
9. What makes you happy right now?
That’s a tough question. You know, having fast race cars always helps on the weekends. Going back to the house and having a good stable home — me and my girlfriend are doing a lot better, and having things good at home is nice too.
I’ve had a little bit of chaos with the lawn mower breaking down and my yard’s not the way I want it and stuff like that. That gets me a little bit. But race cars are fast, so my job, my career, everything like that is going well.
There’s a couple things on the other side I want to…well, you’re never going to be perfect, right? Life’s never going to be perfect, so you can always have ways to improve on it. But this year so far I’ve been really happy, I’ve been having a lot more fun at the races, and because I’m having so much more natural fun, I feel like I’m able to just focus on what I should be doing a lot more just naturally than I feel like I have in the past.
10. Let’s say a sponsor comes to you and says, “We are going to fully fund the entire rest of your racing career on the condition that you wear a clown nose and an 80’s rocker wig in every interview you do as long as you’re driving.” Would you accept that offer?
Totally. I mean, stability is something people die for these days in this sport. So if I got to do that, by all means, let’s do it and win races. I don’t care. I mean, I’ll wear the wig. Whatever it takes, I’m willing to do it.
11. This is the 10th year of the 12 Questions. There has never been a repeat question until now. Pick a number between 1 and 100, and I’m going to pull up a random question from a past year’s series.
Because it’s Talladega, and because Barstool Sports is going to be here and this place is known for the party, the Big One, I’ve got to go with 69.
How often do you talk inside the car without hitting the radio button?
I did it a little bit at first when I came from dirt racing over here, because for some reason in the dirt car I just lose my mind sometimes and scream. But I realized when I come over to here I’ve got a lot more people I’m working with.
When it was just me and my dad we didn’t have radios. It was dirt racing, so no one is ever going to hear what you have to say. But no, I don’t really ever yell in the race car about this guy blocking, doing this or wrecking me. I stay pretty silent. If I key up, if I have something to say, that’s when it’s going to be said.
12. The last interview was with Ryan Blaney. He wants to know about your Xfinity championship and your celebration, like how did you celebrate it, do you have any stories from celebrating it that night, what was your whole reaction afterwards?
Well, it’s funny. This question’s actually been asked a lot because I guess people think I like to have fun or something, I don’t know. But you know, that night was great, we took the pictures, me and Dave (Elenz) had a couple beers as we were taking our pictures in Turns 3 and 4, enjoying the moment. We get home, we go to the classy joint of Saeed’s until it closed down and then we went to another fine establishment — that’s all I’m gonna call it.
We had a good night. We enjoyed that night. But from that point until the banquet I don’t think I drank, I didn’t do anything, I didn’t celebrate.
I got home from our party that night and went in the early morning and my cat was sick. I had to take her to the emergency vet, and I was at the emergency vet all night.
Then I had other things going on. I was running around like crazy until the banquet and I really didn’t have another moment to take it in and absorb it. It was odd. You know, Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) told me, “Make sure you enjoy this championship. It’s special. Make sure you take the time to enjoy it.” And I didn’t know what he meant by that at first, but I kid you not, time just moved by. I was doing this, doing that, and I never really — other than that night we got home and the banquet (and party) at Whiskey River — I didn’t really take and have a lot of time to celebrate it. But that’s life.
You said your cat got sick like right after you got home from Homestead?
Yeah. It was sick. My cat wasn’t doing well when I left for Homestead, I thought she was gonna snap out of it. You know, cats are creatures of habit and they get in weird funks sometimes.
My cat was hiding, no one could find her, she had lost like half her weight, wasn’t eating, wasn’t going to the bathroom. She had a blockage in her system that almost killed her. It was pretty crazy.
I mean, a cat’s a cat. Say what you will about cats, but my cat is pretty bad-ass, more bad-ass than most dogs. So I take pride in owning a cat.
So that’s how you celebrated? You just got back from partying and holding up the trophy and there you are in the vet’s office?
Yeah, I was sad thinking that my cat was getting ready to pass away. I was like, “What is going on?”
The next interview is with Erik Jones. Do you have a question I can ask him?
I’m terrible at asking questions. I’m not good at asking questions, just answering them. This part is new to me. I’m not used to asking.
My question for Erik refers to his 2015 Truck Series championship run. He was so fast all year long, looked to be the favorite to win the championship, but did not win in 2015 until June. What did he have to find within himself, what did he have to figure out to finally break through and win and then from there go on and win three races and ultimately close out and win the championship?