Should playoff-bound Tyler Reddick have raced Chris Buescher differently?

In the Chris Buescher-Tyler Reddick duel from Darlington, the dynamic of a driver without a victory battling against a driver with a victory came into the spotlight.

Buescher had more to lose than Reddick as Reddick, already with a win, knows he will be in the playoffs. Buescher doesn’t have a win and by being on the bad end of a Reddick mistake, he was livid. He had lost a chance at the win and about 28 points as well.

“I don’t have that sticker on my door,” Buescher told Reddick. “This means more. I need you to be better.”

Should Reddick have considered that Buescher doesn’t have a win when racing him?


Because he can’t.

The five playoff points for a win can help a driver immensely in the playoffs. A driver needs to win as many races as possible because those playoff points are added to a driver’s total in each round when points reset. They can make the difference between advancing and not advancing from round to round.

So a driver with a win has just as much to gain as a driver without a win. To go even further, a driver with a win can be more aggressive because the difference between second and 30th isn’t too big a deal.

But here’s the difference. Drivers who need a win to make the playoffs often are given a little more latitude when going for a victory compared to those who have a win.

Fast Thoughts: Does Chris Buescher need to change the way he races?

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In other words:

A driver who needs a win understandably will do more taking than giving to make the playoffs — and those on the bubble do it with the risk that losing spots could knock them further outside the bubble. The reward and the risk are great. Any payback likely will be minimal because drivers understand the importance of making the playoffs.

A driver who has a win can do more taking than giving in order to earn playoff points. The reward is great. The risk is minimal. But — and Reddick will certainly be aware of this the next time he is bumper-to-bumper with Buescher — payback is more possible because there will be a time when that driver on the receiving end has a lot less to lose.

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including over 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass.

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