Racing in the NASCAR Cup series is a tense affair, as Tyler Reddick and crew leader Randall Burnett are well aware. That’s why the Richard Childress Racing duo doesn’t forget to have fun wherever they can – for example, by radio.
It is not uncommon to hear Burnett call Reddick a “little buddy” or a “buddy.” Both are used frequently and interchangeably, and there is no specific reason when they appear. That’s just what Burnett does. Radish heard this from the first race, the first day he was paired with Burnett in 2019 in the Xfinity series.
“I’m sure he called other drivers that, so I didn’t think too much about it,” Redzik said. “Depending on how the day goes when he says it, I feel different reactions. But I got used to it, and after that I’ll give him something. “
Burnett doesn’t know why he started talking like that, other than what he once heard.
“I’m having fun,” Burnett said. “For some reason, my dad always called me home. When I was growing up, those were his words. He said, “Hey, buddy, are you okay?” It’s just extended to me and it comes out. That’s how I signed my programs. “
Radish joined Childress after winning the 2018 Xfinity Series title with JR Motorsports. He and Burnett instantly pressed, winning together six races and Radzik’s second title in a row. When it came time for Childress to discuss Radick’s move to the Cup series, those conversations included that Burnett had moved in with him, and Burnett didn’t hesitate.
Perhaps the two have little in common. Although they both have children, there is a difference in age, and Burnett is a veteran of NASCAR, while Radick is always in a hurry to point out that those he works with have been in NASCAR races much longer than he. But they quickly became closer because of their love of racing and similar origins, which grew in races and around dirt.
It goes without saying that the driver’s relationship with the crew chief is very important. Some of the best in business have the longest relationships because they are built on common ground and trust – think Jimmy Johnson and Chad Knaus, or Tony Stewart and Greg Zippedli, and even Kevin Harwick and Rodney Childers. Radish and Burnett were only four years old, but their relationship was strong from the start.
“We are doing very well,” said Radzik. “I’ve worked with him longer than with any other crew leader in my racing career. We were very comfortable with each other from day one, but the amount of land that we were able to cover individually and together as a team has been really big so far. ”
When you ask Burnett to tell you about his driver, he laughs and says that Radzik is one of a kind.
“One of the things I like most about Tyler is that he’s part of this team as much as you can be,” Burnett said. “He’s with the guys, he works in the store. He does everything in his power to get better, to make the whole thing better. Nowadays, this is rare, so working with him is a great privilege for all of us. “
Those who have spent a lot of time listening to Radio № 8 will soon learn that Reddick and Burnett play more than just the role of driver and crew chief. Strange as it may sound, they are not fighting.
“This Cup deal is pretty stressful,” Burnett said, “and we had a lot of fun on Xfinity’s side, always being the leader and winning the races. We tried to transfer this mentality to this side, even so tense. If you’re a little off the side of the Cup, they’ll make you pay for it all day.
“He and I, we are both carefree enough to know that this deal is as difficult as it is. We don’t need to burden ourselves. Honestly, we are honored to make a living from this. Sometimes he’ll strain and I’ll have to be balanced, and then sometimes I’ll make a bad pit call or do something stupid on my part and I’ll beat myself up, so he has to be prudent. We take turns. “
Radish does not hesitate to criticize himself and encourages Burnett to take risks.
“He does it,” Burnett said. “He doesn’t hesitate to try to push me to play with my hand, or make a big amendment or something. He knows how to push my buttons to get me to do it. ”
Reddick objected, “When I get angry and say something about myself, it almost pisses me off, even more so when he tries to make me feel better. I want him to tell me, “You suck. You really screwed up, and he won’t tell me if I want to hear it. But maybe that’s why we work so well together. “
Realizing that they are on the same team and have the same goal, the main belief in communication between Radzik and Burnett is that everything will be better. On days when it takes more diligence than others to achieve a result, the team knows you need to keep working.
“We believe in each other and I know he gives me 110% and he knows I do the same,” Burnett said. “As long as we maintain this mentality and no one feels that another is lying, we will continue to improve it. Everyone in this 8 car fell in love with this mentality. “
In 84 races together at the level of the Cup, Radzik and Burnett led on wheels, finished in the top five and participated in the playoffs. What follows is a breakthrough for a victory that looks closer than ever. And Burnett admitted that he wants to win for his driver because of how hard Radik works.
And you can bet that when that day comes, the references to “little buddy” and “little brother” on the radio will be as loud and proud as ever.