Charlotte NC- On December 6th the the racing world will be heading to Indianapolis Indiana for the 2018 PRI show. Buyers from 50 states and 70 countries will head to the Midwest to get ready for the 2019 racing season. Racing organizations like NASCAR will send teams to represent those series, this year NASCAR is sending a rookie team from the K & N East series, the #74 Visconti Motorsports and driver Brandon McReynolds. It is quite an honor to be asked to represent NASCAR even more so for a first-year team.
About this time last year John Visconti was confronted with a very unexpected decision, continue with his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour team for the 2018 season or take a leap of faith and make the jump to the NASCAR K & N East series. An opportunity to purchase a K & N East team came about and move up the NASCAR ladder. Making that change meant starting over, new crew, new equipment, new tracks and a new driver.
Most car owners would probably stay where they were, not John. He conferred with his wife Marie, sponsors and general manager, Bill Goffin. John had been around racing his whole life from Freeport Speedway where his dad was a Late Model driver for many years to Riverhead Raceway and this was an opportunity he could not pass up.
The shop would no longer be a drive down the Long Island Expressway it was a flight away or the long drive south to Charlotte and the heart of NASCAR country. The new team had high hopes, but realistic expectations and it was full speed ahead.
The off season for Visconti Motorsports would be short but busy as February Speedweeks at the New Smyrna Speedway was only a few short months away. The team would more than likely not run the full season but that did not limit the amount of work a new team needs to put in to get the car and team ready.
The paint scheme they would run the 2018 NASCAR K& N East series would be the familiar red and black Visconti colors and number #74 honoring his dad Cookie. Coming south with the team would be longtime supporter Charles Reichert and the IGA Supermarket Group. Brandon McReynolds was tabbed to be the driver bringing a wealth of experience from running in the K & N, Xfinity, Camping World Truck, ARCA and Canadian Pinty series.
How did the 2018 season go? Well New Smyrna in Fla. would see a stacked field of 29 cars vying for the season opening race win. The high hopes by the team were dampened by an early practice blown motor. Never to give up they replaced the motor and with limited practice Brandon qualified 6th and ran in the top 5 most of the race until tire issues relegated the #74 to a 10th place finish.
The Zombie Auto 150 at Bristol would see another solid day with a 6th place qualifying and 5th place finish. Next up the Who’s Your Driver Twin 100 lap feature at South Boston would give Brandon a chance to gain spots in the point standings. Unfortunately, on lap 23 of the first feature he would be caught up in a big wreck causing heavy damage to the car. With no backup car available at the time, the team watched race 2 from pit side. Visconti has said that he was more disappointed in not having a backup car than he was at wrecking the primary car. After discussing this with veteran crew chief, Bruce Cook a backup car was secured by mid week.
With a much smaller budget than many of the full-time teams, having only 8-9 crew members vs dozens on the better funded K & N East teams plus being an independent team Visconti Motorsports had to watch their pennies when picking races. Tracks like Gateway, Memphis and Iowa were not in the cards in their inaugural season.
One track circled on the team calendar from day one would be the
NASCAR King Cadillac 100 throwback night at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Ct. The #74 paint scheme would not be a traditional throwback but a copy of one of his dad Cookie’s Late Models that he drove to many wins on Long Island.
After the tough night at South Boston just finishing would be welcome and a 7th place in the final tally would get the team back on track. Watkins Glen with Camping World Truck driver Austin Hill behind the wheel for the Great Outdoors RV Superstore 100 who would bring the #74 home 12th
The next race was at New Hampshire Motorspeedway, the first of two New Hampshire races. The Visconti Motorsports team had a solid 5th place qualifying effort and finished 6th in the race.
All year long the team was in a position to win races but still the highest finish was a 5th at Bristol, not bad but not what the team wanted. The Visconti team wanted a win to prove they belonged in the tough series.
Summer would turn to Fall, the team was ready for the stretch drive which would start at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the Apple Barrel 125. The team had spent weeks preparing the car and was poised for a solid finish. Fast off the truck and 3rd in qualifying Brandon was in a virtually flawless all weekend. With NBCSN cameras rolling Brandon led much of the race for an emotional first win with his dad Larry McReynolds in the spotter’s booth. The Visconti Motorsports team had won a race in their first season and did it in a convincing manner by beating the best in the series.
Dover would be the last race of the 2018 NASCAR K&N series season. Coming off the win at New Hampshire, the team backed it up with a solid 2nd place finish in the season finale. NBCSN would have an in-car camera mounted in the 74 car to capture the exciting race at the fastest track on the schedule.
The team finished the 7 race (Out of 14) season with an amazing 11th place in points after running only half of the races. The team’s average finish of 6.3 was second lowest on the tour and if not for tire problems at Symrna and the crash early at South Boston the finish in the final point standings would have been much higher.
After PRI the John and the team will take the car back to North Carolina and begin preparation to again tackle the tough NASCAR K & N series once again in 2019.