NASCAR Rookie Extends Streak; Finishes Fifth in Utah
Tooele, Utah – For Brandon McReynolds and his NAPA Auto Parts team, Saturday’s NASCAR EnergySolutions Utah Grand Prix can probably only be described as a true “tale of two halves.” After qualifying fifth for only his second career NASCAR road course race, McReynolds maneuvered the #16 into second by lap 18 and appeared to be in a position to challenge the race leader before a caution halted the young driver’s charge. “For the first 22 laps today our car was maybe the best it has been all year,” McReynolds stated after the race, “I felt like I could put the car wherever I wanted on the track and could make passes at any point on the course.” Unfortunately, however, following the subsequent pit stop, during which the NAPA Auto Parts team took fuel and made minor adjustments, the Toyota Camry was never the same. Appearing uncontrollably loose around the course’s eleven turns, McReynolds dropped back to fifth almost as quickly as he had advanced to second. “I think the team is still trying to figure out what happened after that last stop, McReynolds said when asked about the abrupt change in the car’s performance, “Jeff Jefferson (Crew Chief of the #16) thinks something had to have broken, but we will probably not know until we get it back to the shop and go through it. To be honest, we may have just made some bad decisions regarding the adjustments that we made to the car during that last stop. After refueling you have got to make some adjustments to the car to offset the additional weight, especially when you are on old tires, and we may have just completely missed the mark on our adjustments. Obviously something was off, but I really do not have any idea at this time what it was.”
Despite the late race struggles, the fifth place finish marked McReynolds’ eighth consecutive Top-5 and eleventh Top-10 of the season, “As I have said before, the consistency that this team has shown is a testament to the work that we have put in and the talent that this team has,” McReynolds stated after the race, “however our inability to get that first win after so many top finishes is beginning to wear on our entire team. I have been in this sport long enough to know that it requires a certain level of patience, but with only two races left my patience is starting to wear a little thin. As well as this team has run, we deserve a win. But nobody is going to hand it to us, we are going to have to go out there and take it.”
The EnergySolutions Utah Grand Prix was the twelfth race of the 2014 K&N Pro Series West season. Contested at Miller Motorsports Park, a 2.2-mile road coarse located at 4,450 feet above sea level and just thirty-five miles outside Salt Lake City, Utah, the park is situated on over 500 acres and is generally considered one of the finest state-of-the-art racing facilities in the country. The event marked NASCAR K&N West’s eighth visit to the park since its opening in April, 2006.
With two races remaining in the 2014 season, McReynolds heads next to the one-third mile high-banked oval of All American Speedway, located in Roseville, California and just a few miles from the Bill McAnally Racing headquarters. “The Roseville race is a huge event for the NAPA organization, with hundreds of NAPA employees and affiliates in attendance,” said McReynolds, “and with the season coming to an end, I would love nothing more than to grab the checkered flag. Their support of our team this year has been incredible and I certainly can not thank them enough for all that they have done.”