KANSAS CITY, Kan. – For a driver making just his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start, Tyler Reddick sure didn’t look like a rookie on Saturday night during the Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Reddick, the reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series champion, was returning behind the wheel of the No. 31 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Richard Childress Racing and caught a big break on lap 218, when a caution flag waved in the middle of a cycle of green-flag pit stops for Ryan Newman’s wayward tire on pit road.

In an instant, the Corning, Calif., driver went from complaining of the motor “changing pitch” and fearing a potential failure to being one of just seven drivers on the lead lap inside of 50 to go.

That seismic shift in momentum led to Reddick surging on the outside during the ensuing restart, with the 23-year-old climbing to as high as third before settling in among the back half of the top 10.

Reddick later drifted just outside that top 10, but a caution that set up an overtime restart allowed him to come down for fresh tires. He then charged his way from 12th to finish ninth with the new rubber.

After the race, Reddick circled the timely yellow with 50 to go as the moment his fortunes changed.

“We were very fortunate to have a lot of cars that were trapped down a lap or two. It honestly saved us from having a pretty unfortunate finish for how good we were at times throughout the race,” noted Reddick. “I think we could have definitely had a little more there with the way the situation played out. From that aspect, it’s disappointing, but a top 10 has a lot of positives. It was a lot of fun driving the car.”

However, in the same breath, Reddick’s competitive nature showed through as well, as he believed his team’s finish could have been a good bit higher – something he was driven to try and attain as well.

“It was a unique opportunity, but I always want more,” Reddick said. “I’ve raced against some of these guys in the Xfinity Series. It’s still a lot of fun to finish in the top 10, but we didn’t come here to run top 10.

“We came here for the win and that’s what I hope we can get one of these times.”

While Reddick doesn’t have any more Cup Series starts on his calendar as of yet, he heads to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in two weeks’ time as the Xfinity Series point leader and locked into the playoffs, thanks to his April victory at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway over Gray Gaulding.

Reddick has never won at Charlotte, but has momentum in his back pocket as he looks to improve on a career-best mark of 10th at the 1.5-mile quad-oval, set in 2017 with Chip Ganassi Racing.