ARCA Notes: McReynolds Gets Fatherly Advice
TOLEDO, Ohio — Larry McReynolds, the Daytona 500-winning crew chief and current FOX and SPEED television analyst, provided son Brandon with some key motivation after ARCA’s season-opening Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona Int’l Speedway in February.
Brandon McReynolds led 64 laps in that race, losing the lead only as he ran out of fuel while driving to the checkered flag. Well known is that Bobby Gerhart charged to the outside to win at Daytona for the eighth time, but not as recognized was the father-and-son conversation between the McReynolds men much later that night.
Larry McReynolds did not see his son until after the Budweiser Shootout broadcast ended, hours after ARCA’s checkered flag, but reminded him how motivating a loss can be.
“I told him I might have been doing this for 30-some years, but I first had nothing to say after Daytona,” the elder McReynolds said Friday. “I then said I may have won 23 of these races (as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chief), but I lost 447, and I remember a lot more about some of those 447 than I do a lot of the 23. This run today did you more good today as a race car driver than you’ll ever imagine.”
Larry spoke about Brandon’s rise as a stock car driver, and made it clear that while an Alabama-raised driver passed along the driving talent that allowed Brandon to win at Alabama’s finest track, it wasn’t necessarily him.
“We’re so thankful that Steve and Sandra Turner have given him this opportunity,” McReynolds said. “I’ve had faith in him, ever since he started running Bandoleros. I’ve told him all along that it’s not an easy journey. It wasn’t an easy journey for me, trying to come up through the ranks of working on these cars and becoming a crew chief, and I knew it was going to be an even more challenging journey for him as an aspiring driver. The things that make me so proud of him are his patience and perseverance. I’ve told people all along that I don’t know where he gets his driving talent; I promise it doesn’t come from me, but maybe it is that guy that he went to Victory Lane with 20 years ago, his godfather, Davey Allison.”
McReynolds Thanks Several Influences: As Brandon McReynolds participated in the post-race winner’s press conference at Talladega Superspeedway, he had the chance to personally thank several NASCAR competitors who have influenced him in recent years.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran Jeff Burton walked to the stage to shake McReynolds’ hand during a slight break in the press conference. The two have recently worked together on building late models, and McReynolds drove one in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown at Richmond Int’l Raceway in Virginia last month. The two connected at Daytona earlier this year.
McReynolds also counted two Turner Motorsports teammates as important influences. NASCAR Nationwide Series driver and 2008 ARCA champion Justin Allgaier was one, and appeared at McReynolds’ press conference after working as an analyst on the SPEED race broadcast. McReynolds also acknowledged NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver James Buescher.
Poole Extends Points Lead: Brennan Poole finished eighth in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame 250, maintaining his position as the only driver with a top-10 finish in each ARCA Racing Series event this season. Poole’s four top-10s have staked him to a 55-point lead over Tom Hessert atop the series standings, up from a 45-point advantage over Alex Bowman one week ago.
Chad Hackenbracht finished third and stands third overall, 70 points behind Poole.
Additionally, Poole leads the Team Messina Rookie Challenge standings by 14 points over Venturini Motorsports teammate Ryan Reed, 108-94.
Lofton Wins Aaron’s Lap Leader Award: Second-place finisher Matt Lofton led each of the first 52 laps and three of the last four — a total of 55 — to win the Aaron’s Lap Leader Award at Talladega. He now stands third in the overall award standings for 2012, behind leader Alex Bowman and Cale Gale.
“It certainly helped getting the pole, due to the weather,” Lofton said. “I’ve really got to thank (team owner) Joe Coulter, for giving us every effort that he could there at the beginning of the year getting those points from the (2011 champion) 41. I just sat out front there and cruised at the beginning, and tried to lead as many laps as I could. We had a great pit stop from the guys and great pit strategy. I moved there at the end of the race just a half-lap too soon. I’ll take a second-place finish here, that’s for sure.”
Third at Talladega, Hackenbracht Tests for Hoosier at Pocono: Chad Hackenbracht’s third-place finish at Talladega was just the beginning of a busy stretch for the driver, whose CGH Motorsports team traveled to Pocono Raceway for a Monday tire test. Pocono is in the final stages of preparation for racing in June after the recent completion of a pavement project.
“We’re having some good times and trying to give (Hoosier) some data,” he said Monday. “So far, the track has a lot of grip and it’s a lot of fun. There’s definitely a big difference. Overall, there’s tons of grip. You definitely go a lot faster. We’re quite a bit quicker. We’re not 100 percent sure what tire we’re going to go with, but we’re testing it out for them to see if we can give them good feedback.”
Neuenberger Rises 24 Positions for CGS Hard Charger Award: Given the way the starting lineup was determined by 2011 owner points, there’s little surprise that some drivers who started at the back of the field improved throughout the race more significantly than they might have otherwise.
Four drivers improved 20 or more positions from start to finish, and the leader of that pack was Donnie Neuenberger. Neuenberger, driving the No. 97 Eagle Convenience Stores Chevrolet for owner Dana Carter, started 42nd and finished 18th, and his 24-position gain gave him the CGS Imaging Hard Charger Award for the race.
Four Tracks Now at 50 or Above: Of the 18 tracks on the current ARCA Racing Series schedule, four have hosted 50 or more ARCA races. Salem Speedway is the clear leader with 91 through last Sunday’s event, and is followed by Toledo Speedway, host to the May 20 Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care. Toledo has hosted 70 races through 2011.
Pocono Raceway, home to the ARCA Racing Series twice this season yet again, has hosted 53 prior ARCA events. Friday’s International Motorsports Hall of Fame 250 at Talladega was the track’s 50th race.
Next season, ARCA will race at Daytona Int’l Speedway for the 50th time.