Top-Five Finish Caps Amazing Night for McReynolds in Denny Hamlin's Charity Event
Racing and Beating Some of Sprint Cup's Best Adds to Excitement of Night
MOORESVILLE, NC (May 4, 2010) -- It may have been a race for charity, but to Brandon McReynolds, Thursday night's Denny Hamlin Foundation Short Track Showdown was a chance to race with some of NASCAR's best and to prove that he has what it takes to compete on any track with any class of drivers.
That's exactly what McReynolds did Thursday night, coming home fifth in the 250-lap Late Model Stock Car event at Southside Speedway in Virginia, which benefited the Denny Hamlin Foundation.
McReynolds fifth-place finish found him in front of some of the best NASCAR Sprint Cup stars in the finishing order, including Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Bobby Labonte, Elliott Sadler, Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola. McReynolds also beat other top Late Model Stock Car drivers, including two-time NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Champion Phillip Morris and defending UARA champion Matt McCall.
"It was an absolutely great night," said McReynolds after the event. "I really couldn't have asked for things to have gone any better. Of course, I wanted to win the race, but to come out here and finish in the top-five with the stacked field that was here was awesome. I mean, two of the best in the business in Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart finished just ahead of us. And we just flat outran guys like Kevin Harvick and Elliott Sadler. It was just a blast and I couldn't be happier with the way our car ran, with the way I drove and with the way we stacked up. It's something I'll remember for a long, long time."
McReynolds was one of the many Late Model Stock Car stars from the Southeast that got the call from Hamlin to be a part of the charity event, run the Thursday before the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races at Richmond International Raceway.
The night began strong for McReynolds on the tight quarter-mile track, clocking in as one of the fastest cars in practice and eventually ninth of the 36 cars who took time in qualifying. Brandon's time was less than 0.05-seconds behind the second-place qualifier, two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Stewart. Then, as soon as the green flag flew on the 250-lap event, McReynolds showed how strong his car was.
"We were moving to the front rather quickly, but then we got held up on the outside," added McReynolds. "The track is so tight that you are always nose-to-tail with someone. And if either one of the inside or outside rows check up, you can lose a bunch of spots. We fell back just outside of the top-10 in the middle portion of the first segment and I had a whale of a battle with my good buddy (Joey) Logano. We had a great time racing side-by-side.
"I just tried to keep the car in one piece and minimize the damage. Everyone out there was trying to get all they could and wasn't afraid to use the bumper. Sometimes, you have to do that at places like (Southside). So I just kept the car under control and took my time to get back into the top-10 and eventually into the top-five."
During the lap-150 competition caution and 10-minute break, teams were allowed to come to pit road and make adjustments. The Team McReynolds Dodge came in for tires, fuel and a couple of minor chassis adjustments.
During the last 100 laps, McReynolds charged into fifth-position, getting around Ambrose and holding off the charge of several other drivers. A final green-white-checker segment gave Brandon another shot to improve his position, but a bunch of beating and banging kept McReynolds fifth when the checkers flew.
"This was just an awesome night. Our #28 LarryMcReynolds.com Dodge was really fast all night long. I think had we started up a little bit further in the field, we could have challenged for the win. But we spent a lot of time coming through the field and battling with guys like Logano and Ambrose and that just used our stuff up.
"To me though, it doesn't matter. This race was so much fun and it was for such a good cause. The stands were packed, we got to give a lot of autographs to a lot of fans, dad got named the Grand Marshall for the race and we came out of here with a top-five and a car that was still in one piece. You just can't get much better than that. I'm so thankful that Denny invited us to be a part of this deal and I hope he lets us come back again. I will do this race at the drop of a hat. Next time though, we'll be just that much more prepared and we'll be up there fighting for the win."
Next up, Brandon will return to UARA competition, competing in the Carolina 200 at Rockingham Speedway in Rockingham, NC. The event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 15th and will be run as the first part of a double header with the USA Racing Pro Cup Series.