Category Archives: K & N East

The Little Team that Took on the NASCAR K&N Series

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.

Brandon McReynolds driver of the Visconti Motorsports #74 and team owner John Visconti

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

The Visconti Motorsports throwback #74 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Tom Morris Photo

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.

Brandon McReynolds in victory lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway NASCAR Home Tracks Photo

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.

Tripleheader Takes New England Back To Its Racing Roots

“Magic Mile” Puts NASCAR’s Short Track Series On Center Stage

 For NASCAR’s regional touring series, what’s old is new once again at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Saturday’s New England short track showdown will host three different divisions in a unique tripleheader aimed at highlighting three of the best short track divisions from both the United States and Canada. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Pinty’s Series join the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour for the event which harkens back to the days before New Hampshire Motor Speedway ever hosted its first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in the mid-1990s.

When the 1.058-mile speedway first opened in 1990 — the largest in New England, both then and now — it did so with regular doubleheaders featuring the former Busch North Series and the Whelen Modified Tour. In those days, names like Mike McLaughlin, Steve Park, Ricky Craven, Mike Stefanik and Reggie Ruggiero made trips to Victory Lane.

While the track hosted two Cup Series events annually for a 20-year span from 1997-2017, it recognized its history at the grassroots levels of the sport. With an open September weekend on its schedule this season, the time was perfect for NHMS to return to its roots.

TICKETS: Full Throttle Weekend at New Hampshire

“It certainly is in our DNA,” NHMS General Manager David McGrath said. “Always has been, always will be. We certainly see the value, and we are thrilled that fans come out for all those races.”

The weekend is more than just the racing, too. With limited garage access during tightly-managed Cup weekends, the track is promising fans much closer proximity to drivers and cars during the New England Short Track Showdown.

And while the event is not the first tripleheader in the track’s history, having held standalone NASCAR Xfinity Series races with the K&N Pro Series and Modifieds on the undercard in the past, Saturday will still mark a first.

RACING-REFERENCE: Previous Whelen Modified & K&N Pro Series races at New Hampshire

The Musket 250 for the Whelen Modified Tour will be the longest race in series history and the most lucrative with a purse of over $25,000.

“It’s always huge when we can be the premier division at races. Even when we’re not, we usually put on the best races,” Whelen Modified Tour point leader Justin Bonsignore said. “I think it’s a really good opportunity for our series, for K&N and for Pinty’s to be the lead divisions at an event and have the fans come in and get to know the drivers better.”

“Let’s put it clearly, the Whelen Modifieds put on one whale of a show at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and I think that the fans are absolutely ecstatic about this 250-lap (race),” McGrath said. “They’re going to put on a great show for our fans and we are so happy about it. We’re not backing off.”

ENTRY LISTS: Whelen Modified Tour | Pinty’s Series | K&N Pro Series East

On the K&N Pro Series side, the Apple Barrel 125 will be the first series race at NHMS not held on a Cup weekend in nearly two decades. The race will be the longest at the track for the series since 2011, the last year it visited Loudon twice in the same season.

“It will be a little different being there without one of the top three series, it’s a little weird,” said Tyler Ankrum, the California rookie who leads the K&N Pro Series East standings with four wins — one of them at Loudon in July. “Every NASCAR track we’ve gone to all year, the Cup Series is there with us. You need to still be on top of your game, though — you should be on top of your game no matter what. You want to feel like a Rick Hendrick or a Joe Gibbs is watching you at these types of tracks, and they should be watching us. We’re the next thing — along with the Modifieds and the Pinty’s guys.”

PIT BOX: Tyler Ankrum Leads K&N Pro Series East Field To Magic Mile

Ankrum, though just 17 years old, is keenly aware of the series’ history at NHMS.

“The call it the Magic Mile, because it’s magical,” Ankrum said with a laugh. “As awkward and childish as it sounds, it’s true. I think it’s really cool that it was a road course before (Briar Motorsports Park). When we won there at the beginning of the year, my grandfather who’s 70-something, even he didn’t know that. I think that’s a really cool thing about the place.”

While Saturday’s race marks the 69th in series history for the Modifieds, and the 73rd overall for the K&N Pro Series East, it’s a first for the Pinty’s Series. The Canadian series has never raced at New Hampshire.

In fact, the Visit New Hampshire 100 will mark the first series race in the United States.

PIT BOX: Dumoulin & Tagliani Lead Pinty’s Series to New Hampshire

“I’m very proud of our Canadian national series and the fans are going to be treated to … side-by-side battles and action all over the track,” said Pinty’s Series point leader L.P. Dumoulin. “There are at least 10 or more drivers with the equipment and talent to win, and the race is going to be awesome.”

With late-season point battles, extra distances and plenty of purse money on the line on a big standalone stage, all three races which are part of the inaugural New England Short Track Showdown promise to deliver.

Five-time Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby is a firm believer that you don’t need Cup cars at New Hampshire to have a first-rate race weekend for fans in the northeast and Canada.

RELATED: Custom Musket & Trophy Revealed For Inaugural Musket 250 Winner

“We’ve always been the main event in our world,” said Coby, a four-time winner at NHMS. “This is just a beast that we’ve never tried to tame before. The race can go in a lot of different directions — and whatever direction it goes in, the cool thing is that if we keep doing this every year, it will be something different for the fans every year.”

NASCAR Drivers Visit Manchester Kids

NASCAR K&N Pro Series East driver Ryan Vargas and NASCAR Pinty’s Series driver Alex Tagliani visited with Automotive Technology students, pediatric patients and local teens.

LOUDON, N.H. – NASCAR drivers Ryan Vargas and Alex Tagliani visited with Automotive Technology Students at Manchester Community College, pediatric patients at Elliot Hospital and children and teenagers at the Webster House, all in Manchester, New Hampshire on Wednesday before heading to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for this weekend’s inaugural Full Throttle Fall Weekend.

“I’m so happy that I was able to visit New Hampshire before the race,” said Tagliani. “I have a young daughter of my own, so I know how important it is to spend time with kids, and I hope we were able to brighten their day a little bit today.”

The drivers first stopped by Manchester Community College where they met with nearly 25 students enrolled in the Automotive Technology program. They greeted the students outside with the NHMS show car, where Vargas jumped in the driver seat to rev the engine and make some noise. The students then gave Vargas and Tagliani a tour of their classroom and shop, telling them what they’re learning and showing them the cars they’re working on.

“I can relate to you guys, and I was really excited to come here today,” said 17-year-old NASCAR K&N Pro Series rookie Vargas. “A lot of people nowadays just pay people to work on their cars, but I spend a lot of time in the shop back home, because my dad wanted to make sure I was there to learn about my car. Some kids don’t grow up with that lesson. After we had a few wrecks, I had to rebuild the cars myself, and then we were winning a lot, and that’s just because I had a great deal of respect for my car, my crew and other people’s cars and crew. It’s very important to know the basics.”

The next stop of the day was at Elliot Hospital, which hit home with for Vargas, who was born with Craniosynostosis.

“It’s basically a deformation of the skull,” explained Vargas. “I had to have surgery for it when I was 11 months old, and that lead to this scar that goes all the way around my head. That’s something I wear with pride every day, and that’s the reason why I’m here. It’s really cool to be able to spend time with these fans, meet new people, meet these kids and maybe get them to want to go to some races or even be race car drivers one day.”

Vargas painted a wooden race car with a young girl, raced toy cars on the special Elliot Hospital Race Track with a young boy and handed out autographed hero cards to a few other patients. Both drivers then made a couple individual visits to patient rooms.

The day wrapped up with a visit to the Webster House, where Vargas and Tagliani played pool, video games, air hockey and ate cake with the children and teenagers before shifting gears to focus on getting ready for their races this weekend.

“A lot of our Canadian folks are coming down to see our race and see our championship battle,” said Tagliani. “We’re excited the New Hampshire Motor Speedway decided to add a Pinty’s race. I’m going to take the opportunity to do some mountain biking, which is not something that happens when we go to a race. You go to a race, you do your job, you drive the race car, and then you also enjoy a little bit of tourism. At least in this place, I’m going to be able to do it and have some good photos once I leave.”

Vargas and Tagliani remain in New Hampshire for this weekend’s Full Throttle Fall Weekend when they take on “The Magic Mile” – Vargas in the first global NASCAR K&N Pro Series race, the Apple Barrel 125, and Tagliani in the first time Canada’s NASCAR Pinty’s Series will race in the U.S. at the Visit New Hampshire 100. The Sept. 21-22 weekend will also feature the longest mileage and richest purse race in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour history, the Musket 250.

 

For ticket information for Full Throttle Fall Weekend visit the speedway website at www.NHMS.com or call Fan Relations at (603) 783-4931.