Leg issues hound Reddick heading into Phoenix

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 13, 2022

By David Brandt

AP Sports Writer

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Tyler Reddick is enjoying his status among
NASCAR’s fastest drivers through the season’s first three races, adapting quickly to the sport’s Next Gen car that has provided solid racing and a new degree of difficulty for many drivers.

The only issue is Reddick can’t seem to get comfortable in his Chevrolet’s seat, leading to numbness in his legs.

That, of course, is a pretty big problem for a driver in a 3,200-pound hunk of steel that can move over 150 mph.

“You know, I just think I was in a really good place in that old car for such a long time and didn’t realize how easy or how bad you could end up missing it, the comfort side of things,” Reddick said.

If Reddick can find a way to fix his leg issues, he might just find a spot in victory lane for the first time in his NASCAR career. The 26-year-old, who is in his third season with Richard Childress Racing, has led the most laps (90) of any driver so far this season.

So far, those laps up front haven’t led to great finishes in 2022. He was 35th at Daytona and 24th at Fontana after he was doomed by a flat tire before a seventh-place showing at Las Vegas last week. Now the racing has moved across the desert to the tri-oval in Phoenix, which will host the NASCAR championship again in November.

Reddick said it’s been hard to diagnose his leg problems because it’s difficult to recreate racing conditions in the garage. But he’s not the only one who has had numbness issues in the new car: Alex Bowman talked about having some of the same problems at Daytona. Team Penske’s Austin Cindric — who won at Daytona — said his “right butt cheek was on fire” after a few laps at Las Vegas last week.

“It’s pretty challenging to understand sitting still, you know with no load, no bumps, no heat, whatever it might be, to really feel if there is going to be a problem,” Reddick said. “It’s hard to really understand what’s OK and what’s not.”

Kyle Larson — the defending champ who already has won once this season at Fontana — said last week that he expects Reddick to have an “amazing season” after the driver led the pack during offseason testing. That could start today in Phoenix.

BLANEY UP FRONT

Ryan Blaney will be on the pole while Denny Hamlin will start on the outside of Row 1 today.

Two of the three winners so far this season — Alex Bowman and Austin Cindric — will also start in the top 10. Larson qualified seventh but will start from the back of the field today because of unapproved adjustments to his steering wheel. Martin Truex Jr. won last year’s spring race in Phoenix and will start 20th. It’s Blaney’s third career pole in Phoenix.

Larson is a 4-1 favorite to win, according to FanDuel.

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