Brandon McReynolds Excels in First "Big Track" Experience a Daytona International Speedway's Open ARCA Test
18-Year-Old Hoping to Line Up Sponsorship for Daytona ARCA Racing Series Event in Feb.
MOORESVILLE, NC (December 22, 2009) -- If on December 25th, Brandon McReynolds wakes up to find nothing under the Christmas tree with his name on it, he will be perfectly happy. Because for the 18-year-old McReynolds, Christmas came a week early this year.
McReynolds got the opportunity to head to Daytona International Speedway on December 18th to participate in the three-day ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards open test for Eddie Sharp Racing. The test between McReynolds and Sharp was originally scheduled to be just Friday's and Saturday's single-car runs at the famed 2.5-mile tri-oval.
However, after an impressive showing in both day's single-car practice sessions, the pair decided to partake in Saturday afternoon's drafting session. Once again McReynolds, who had never even sat in an ARCA car before the test, proved to be a quick learner, turning in the fifth-fastest time of the day and the seventh-fastest time of the entire testing weekend.
"It was just amazing and honestly rather surreal," said McReynolds of his opportunity to test at one of the most famous tracks in the world. "We really went down there just to get some seat time in an ARCA car on a big track and do single-car runs during the first and second days and it turned into so much more.
"Things went so well that (car owner) Eddie (Sharp), my dad and myself all sat down and decided to go ahead and run the drafting session on Saturday afternoon to give me even more experience and seat time. We went out there, got in a pack with some really good cars like James Buescher, Danica Patrick and a few others and ran about 50 laps in all kinds of different positions in the draft. Near the end of the day, Buescher and I were the top two guys on the speed charts. A couple of other teams went out later, put on sticker tires and put up a couple of better laps to knock us from the top, but we still ended up fifth fastest in the drafting session.
"When it was all said and done, I have never learned so much in two days at a racetrack than I did down there testing. It was an absolute blast and went so much better than I had ever expected. I can't thank Eddie and all of his guys enough for putting enough faith in me to give me the opportunity to go down there and do what we did."
After a rain-shortened first day of practice, McReynolds found himself fourth on the speed charts. After Saturday's drafting session, McReynolds was fifth. When ARCA Racing Series officials released an overall speed chart encompassing every practice from the entire weekend, McReynolds found himself seventh quick behind the wheel of the #2 Eddie Sharp Racing Toyota of the 60 cars that took time.
Now, McReynolds hopes they can put together a sponsorship package to run the season-opening ARCA Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 on February 6th at Daytona for Eddie Sharp Racing.
"I could not have been more proud of Brandon down there at the test, not only as a father, but also as a learned observer," said Brandon's father Larry McReynolds. "Before the test, the biggest track Brandon had ever been on was (the one-mile) Rockingham Speedway. He had also never even as much as fired up an ARCA car before pulling out on the track for the first time on Friday. So for him to go down there and do as well as he did, show as much poise as he did and pick up on things like side draft, sucking up in the draft and pushing other cars was so impressive. I just want to thank Eddie Sharp so much for giving Brandon and us the opportunity that he did.
"Now I've just got to do my job and put together a sponsorship package that will allow Brandon to run in the ARCA event at Daytona for Eddie Sharp Racing. After the test, I really feel like we could go back down there and be a contender to run up front and possibly even challenge for the win at Daytona with the quality of race team that Eddie Sharp has assembled. In addition to running up front on the track, I know Brandon will get the chance to get a lot of exposure off of the track during Speedweeks like he did during the test, which would mean a lot of added exposure for a company if we can get some sponsorship lined up. So hopefully, we can keep knocking down those doors and get something put together here soon so Brandon will have the opportunity to run the Daytona event and maybe even a couple of more races."
Should sponsorship get lined up, Brandon knows that when he heads back to Daytona, he will already be ahead of the learning curve.
"I didn't think I would get the chance to learn a lot of the stuff that I did before the weekend started, so now if we get the chance to go back, we can pick up right where we left off. The biggest thing for me is knowing how these cars act and react in the draft and how much they dance around. Luckily for me, when we ran the drafting session, I spent time out front, mid-pack and at the back of the pack, so I know the different scenarios should I get into them.
"I'm really hoping a sponsor will step up and give us the shot to run with Eddie down at Daytona in February. After the test, I think we could be a team to be reckoned with down there during Speedweeks."
Brandon is coming off the most successful season in his young racing career. Brandon piloted his #28 Airplus Insoles / Team McReynolds Dodge to three wins and three poles in 16 UARA-Stars Series starts, coming home third in the final point standings. Brandon also had seven top-five finishes and 10 top-10 finishes along the way. In addition to his UARA accomplishments, McReynolds finished second in the annual Bailey's 300 at Martinsville Speedway in early October.
Team McReynolds hopes to move to the ARCA Racing Series or USA Racing Pro Cup Series for the 2010 season, along with continuing to run a handful of UARA events. The biggest challenge to accomplish any of this is to secure sponsorship.