Tyler Reddick parked his taped-together Chevrolet on the backstretch, far from everyone else and quite possibly in the way of track workers trying to clean up a crash. He could smell burning oil and see smoke coming from under the hood.
Alone with his thoughts and genuinely concerned with his postseason chances, those few minutes of isolation at Daytona International Speedway could have been troubling for a 25-year-old driver with so little NASCAR experience.
Instead, Reddick turned them into a positive.
“It was nice in a way to sit back there and kind of reset on what we had to do,” Reddick said.
Reddick checked off a lengthy to-do list following that red-flag stoppage — most of it involving making sure his damaged No. 8 was in working order — and drove his way into the playoffs. Reddick finished fifth in the Cup Series regular-season finale Saturday night and secured the final spot in the 16-car postseason field.
He entered the weekend in the best position to earn that last berth. But more than a dozen other drivers, including Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon, could have ruined his season.