23XI Racing had Talladega Superspeedway circled with confidence, but while its two drivers didn’t lose much ground in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, it was a disappointing day.

Tyler Reddick finished 16th and was collected in the multi-car crash coming to the finish line. Reddick and the No. 45 team earned 21 points Sunday and led two laps.

“They wrecked, and I ended up right in the middle of it,” Reddick said. “I don’t know, honestly; just ran right into it, looked like. An odd spot to have a crash, the finish line is right there. I was trying to miss it, but we didn’t though. My car was killed, but we came out of here better than we went in.”

Reddick averaged a running position of 16th throughout the afternoon and only placed in the points in the second stage. He is still below the Cup Series playoff grid cutline, going from two points behind a transfer spot to three.

Wallace finished 23rd and earned 13 points, not placing in the points either of the stages. And his average running position wasn’t much better than his teammate at 17th place.

“Just fighting an uphill battle; buried,” Wallace said of making a third lane on the last lap. “I don’t know where we were, hell, we were at the back by then, so just trying to make something happen. I hate it for us. I hate it for (Reddick) because I told them on the restart, ‘Don’t lift,’ and we should have just stayed in line, and kind of rode it out to maybe the last lap, and it would have been a different outcome. But we were too buried to win the race, unfortunately.

“It’s not a torn-up race car, I just popped a right front sliding there. So, no damage, but all in all, not the day that we needed. We put ourselves behind working on a plan, which plans are great with your teammate, but I felt like it hurt us to start, and we got buried back in track position. So we had to fight and claw our way back up to the top, and it took us three stages to get there, and then we gave it away on the last pit stop. Not what we need. Obviously, we had this one circled as a good weekend for us but just didn’t execute.”

Reddick, Wallace, and all the Toyotas were committed to working with each other throughout the afternoon, but it never pushed them forward. In hindsight, it might have been their undoing. At one point during the afternoon, Wallace told his team of how their race was going that ‘nothing’ was working.

“We’re trying to let Toyotas in – and I’m all for it, so if Toyota and anybody at JGR sees this – I’m all for it, but it was just hurting us and pulling us back,” Wallace said. “So, I think we’ve got to fight to get to the front, and then when it’s time to give and take, we start doing it there. But we’re riding around 20th and like, ‘Hey, get in line,’ and that moves our line back, so that didn’t really do any help. We just got to revamp it, but just one of those days.”

Reddick agreed that nothing helped their cause.

“No, it really didn’t, unfortunately,” Reddick said. “I think just the pack racing is evolving and teams are getting smarter. They kind of know what they need to do, and we’re just going to have to keep going back to the drawing board and getting creative on our end to figure it out and make it work.”

Wallace has been one of the best superspeedway racers in the series since arriving in 2018, and that includes a victory at Talladega Superspeedway. But while it appeared he didn’t have the car to make the same aggressive moves he’s shown in the past, he disagreed that it was a car issue.

“No, I actually thought the car was really, really good,” Wallace said. “It could push well, lead well. I thought it was solid. Just circumstances didn’t work out, and here we are in 24th.”

One of the keys to success at superspeedways is being selfish, which Wallace agreed. But he said there is a methodical way of doing that while still helping others that the Toyota camp needs to figure out.

Denny Hamlin, a three-time Daytona 500 winner, agreed. Hamlin managed to come from the back and fin ish third, but also spoke of how hard it is to make happen.

“You just can’t go from the back to the front,” he said. “Now, our finishing position would argue that quite a bit, but we needed some **** to happen up in the second and third lane, and the bottom lane got jammed once for us to do that. It’s really just the car’s got a lot of drag, and you need multiple cars to make moves.

“You can’t just take the runs that you get and make a move because there’s three or four lanes that you could work with. It’s just a different type of racing, and you got to adapt or die.”

Wallace went from two points below the cutline to behind by nine. The elimination race for the second round is this weekend on the Charlotte road course.

“It’s another racetrack,” Wallace said. “Have to go out and do it. It’ll be fun.”