The two-car Richard Childress Racing team entered the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season with the same two drivers that drove for the organization in 2020. Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick both hoped to boost RCR back to the powerhouse status it held in the 2000s. This year, both drivers would have some great runs, but in the end, only one was able to qualify for a playoff spot.
The following article continues a FlurrySports series that looks back on the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season from the perspective of drivers and race teams. Read on for season reviews of the two Richard Childress Racing drivers, Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick.
NASCAR Cup Series 2021 Season Reviews | Richard Childress Racing
Austin Dillon — No. 3
The famous No. 3 car returned to the track with Austin Dillon behind the wheel for his eighth NASCAR Cup Series season. The grandson of Richard Childress himself, Dillon was hoping to get back into the NASCAR Playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Spring Highlights Include Strong Runs in Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600
Things started out great for Austin Dillon as he finished third in the Daytona 500. He followed it up with a disastrous Daytona Road Course showing as he finished 34th. Dillon would not get back into the top-10 until Atlanta where he wound up sixth. Following two finishes outside of the top-10 in the Bristol Dirt Race and at Martinsville, Dillon had a run of three straight top-10s. His finishes during that span included tenth at Richmond, eighth at Talladega and tenth again at Kansas.
The next three races were average, but at the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend, Dillon turned in an impressive sixth-place finish in the longest race of the year.
Summer Struggles Lead to Austin Dillon Falling Short of NASCAR Playoffs
As NASCAR entered the summer portion of its schedule, Dillon’s next nine races ranged from average to downright abysmal in terms of the final results. He wound up in a tight points battle to make the playoffs down the stretch of the regular season.
At Michigan, he had a great run going and looked like he might be capable of earning an outright win to remove all doubt about his postseason status. That was until he came up in front of Brad Keselowski at the end of a stage. the resulting contact sent Dillon putting into the wall and ended his day right there. He definitely had a top-10 car at the very least on that day, but instead finished 36th.
Dillon had one last shot to make the playoffs. At Daytona, he could still point his way in or win the race outright. The No. 3 car was looking great until he was involved in a crash on the final lap and finished 17th. Dillon was eliminated from playoff contention as a result and was forced to race out the final ten races with no shot at a series championship.
Dillon, No. 3 Team Capable of More in 2022
Austin Dillon only added two more top-10s at Darlington and Kansas over the final ten races. He finished 2021 with one top-5, eight top-10s, a 14.4 average finish and a 17th-place showing in the NASCAR Cup Series points standings. Dillon will look to get back to his winning ways for Richard Childress Racing with the Next Gen Car coming in 2022.
Tyler Reddick — No. 8
Tyler Reddick returned to Richard Childress Racing and the No. 8 car returned for his sophomore NASCAR Cup Series season. He had a decent rookie season but was left out on the doorstep of the playoffs. Would he be able to make progress in his second season racing against the best of the best?
Runner-Up at Homestead Highlights Poor Early-Season Stretch
2021 did not start out well for Tyler Reddick as he was involved in the massive Lap 14 wreck in the Daytona 500. He then wrecked out of the Daytona Road Course race the following week as well. At Homestead-Miami Speedway, Reddick had a very strong car and made the high-line work during the final stage. He was easily the fastest car on the track late in the race. Had the Dixie Vodka 400 been another five to ten laps longer, he would have won. Instead, he had to settle for a second-place result.
Reddick then had a bad stretch of races during the west coast swing and at Atlanta. He was sitting just 28th in the NASCAR Cup Series points standings after six races. It was then that things began to turn around for Reddick and Richard Childress Racing.
Concistsency Keys Rise in the Points Standings
Over the next nine races, Tyler Reddick finished top-10 seven times. He quickly jumped up to 13th in the points standings. Reddick would not score any top-10s between Sonoma and the first Pocono race, but he started another top-10 streak with a ninth-place run in the second Pocono race. The No. 8 team turned in finishes of eighth at Road America and sixth at Atlanta.
Tyler Reddick Gets Assists from Pit Crew at Daytona to Clinch Playoff Berth
Going into Daytona, Reddick was just ahead of Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon for the final NASCAR Playoffs spot. Reddick was involved in a late wreck, but luckily his team was able to fix his car well enough to keep it going at speed. He just had to keep within a certain amount of spots of Dillon to clinch the final playoff spot. Damaged car and all, Reddick somehow managed to do that and then some as he finished fifth. He was the 15-seed going into his first playoff appearance.
Despite Failure to Advance, Reddick Races Hard Throughout Playoffs
Tyler Reddick had a rough start to the playoffs with an 18th-place finish at Darlington. He got a little bit better at Richmond by finishing 15th. Still, Reddick was on the outside looking in as far as advancing to the Round of 12 heading into the cutoff night race at Bristol. A third-place finish by William Byron enabled him to claim the last spot into the second round. Reddick was unable to advance, missing the next round by only a few points.
Despite being eliminated from championship contention, Reddick did not give up on the season by any means. He finished sixth at Las Vegas, second at the Charlotte ROVAL and ninth at Texas to close out the year in impressive fashion.
Successful 2021 Campaign is Just the Beginning for Tyler Reddick
In the end, Tyler Reddick finished the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series campaign with three top-5s, 16 top-10s, a 15.0 average finish and a 13th-place finish in the points standings. Reddick has been knocking on the door of getting his first Cup Series victory. Do not be surprised if he does finally get that victory in 2022. A bright future lies ahead of the talented Reddick and the No. 8 RCR team.