Brandon McReynolds doesn’t get to do much racing for himself these days. The Mooresville, North Carolina driver spends most of his time as a driver coach for Noah Gragson in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. But when the Southern Super Series opens its season on March 19 at South Alabama Speedway with the 41st Annual Rattler 250, McReynolds will be the one holding the steering wheel.
And when McReynolds and his team get to Opp, Alabama in a couple of weeks, they’ll be looking for redemption from December’s Snowball Derby.
McReynolds qualified 16th for the Derby, out-qualifying quite a few bigger names and bigger teams. The car that is owned by Wayne and Royce Johnston had plenty of speed, but nobody knew that when the race finally went green that Tuesday night. McReynolds had shifter issues and immediately came to pit road.
“It was obviously a pretty big heartbreak to take a really small team and make a big statement to out-qualify a lot of the cars there, and at the end of the day it wasn’t meant to be,” a humble McReynolds told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “It does put a fire under us to go to the Rattler and perform and get the finish that we were going to have at the Derby. I think we could have had a solid top 10 there. Obviously the Rattler is a little bit different of a race, but it’ll still be a really tough field. I’m just looking forward to seeing what we can do.”
McReynolds, a winner in ARCA Racing Series competition (Talladega 2012), is headed to the Rattler with the same car in which he qualified for the Snowball Derby. The idea of running the Rattler came about with the disappointment of the Snowball Derby still fresh on their minds.
“I talked to Wayne on the long drive back to Charlotte and he asked me to come down and run the Rattler if it worked with my schedule. With me helping Noah Gragson this year, it worked out well because we have a pretty big break between Atlanta and Martinsville so we were able to put it together.”
The Rattler will be the first start at the 4/10-mile oval for the 25-year-old driver, but it will not be his first trip down to the town most famous for the “Rattlesnake Rodeo.” McReynolds has been to Opp numerous times with other race teams, and he also just ran a test session at the track a few weeks ago to get acclimated to the place.
“I felt we were pretty solid even though we still had some things we needed to work on. I’ve never raced there, but I feel confident going down there,” explained McReynolds. “I’ve spent a lot of time down there with Harrison Burton back when I was working for Jeff Burton Autosport. I’ve been there a lot and I’ve heard a lot of feedback from different drivers. I’ve leaned on Hunter Robbins quite a bit just asking him different questions on how to get around the track because he’s had some success down there.”
McReynolds said the goal for his team at the Rattler is a simple one: to have a good, productive weekend.
“Obviously we go to win, but at the same time if can go down there and have a solid day and carry that momentum over into more races then that would be a good start. I want to help put together a solid foundation for that team and have a good run and move on from there.”
As of now, the Rattler is the only race currently planned for McReynolds and this team due to McReynolds busy race schedule with Gragson and the Kyle Busch Motorsports team. But while his own racing calendar only has one date on it, McReynolds said working with this team is still the confidence booster that he’s needed.
“Having the people that I have behind me with this team is really cool. For them to stand behind me, a guy that doesn’t really full-time race right now says a lot. It keeps my confidence up knowing that I can still be a hired gun and still do a good job for a big team or a small team.”
The 41st Annual Rattler 250 will run on Sunday, March 19 and can be seen live on Speed51 TV for $24.99. Race fans can purchase a two-day special for $39.99, which will give fans the opportunity to watch Sunday’s Rattler 250 as well as Saturday’s “Baby Rattler 125” for the Pro Late Models and the Modified feature. Fans can purchase their Speed51 TV pay-per-view packages here.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo