Will Run Partial 2018 K&N Pro East Slate With Visconti
MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Sometimes, all you need is an opportunity.
And for racing team owner John Visconti III, an opportunity of a lifetime flashed before him last fall. And it’s paid dividends for driver Brandon McReynolds.
Visconti was at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend, which also included a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race. It was that trip to Charlotte that brought the opportunity to his attention.
“Sometimes, opportunity knocks and you need to make a decision based upon what you think is going to be best for your future,” Visconti said. “Lightning doesn’t normally strike for you twice.”
After ironing out some of the details, Visconti decided it was time to make a move. He took his racing operation from up in the northeast and moved it down to Mooresville, North Carolina, so he was in the center of the racing community. A few conversations later, he found himself a driver.
Visconti has picked McReynolds, son of former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief Larry McReynolds, to drive his No. 74 IGA Chevrolet for the 2018 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season. The team is slated to run at least a partial schedule.
“I’m giving Brandon an opportunity and he is giving me an opportunity right back,” Visconti said. “I am the weak link in this operation.”
For McReynolds, the opportunity comes as a perfect time for him to return behind the wheel. In the past, the Mooresville driver has combined to run 47 races between the K&N Pro East and West Series. He has two career wins, both coming at Iowa Speedway in 2015, where he finished seventh in the West point standings.
“I’m very fortunate to have John give me this opportunity and I’m looking forward to getting back in the race car. Looking at my career as a driver, things have slowed down so much, just because of a lack of funding, lack of partners and sponsorship to be able to do what I want to do, whether that’s Trucks, XFINITY, or even the Cup Series,” McReynolds said. “This is a good opportunity for me to get back behind the wheel of a race car and practice what I preach to Noah (Gragson). I can get some seat-time and over the next couple of years, I’m not getting any younger, so if I can find a good partner to represent, then the seat-time working with Visconti hopefully will pay off for me.”
McReynolds has a commitment to Kyle Busch Motorsports and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with driver Noah Gragson. He works with Noah both on and off the track, but is hoping to use this racing opportunity to seek some trophies. Both McReynolds and Gragson were part of the NASCAR Next program when they ran in the K&N Pro Series.
“Obviously, working with Noah full-time, I have been able to take a step back from driving, but I’m very fortunate to having two bosses — Noah and his whole family — for allowing me to go and race whenever the schedule works out. We’re planning on running somewhere around seven races, and it’s a good opportunity to go out there and try to get some trophies, have fun and do what I like to do.”
After being at the shop and getting to work with the team, McReynolds is hoping the combination gets off to a good start together.
“One of the hardest parts, with us being a smaller team, we really don’t have any full-time employees. We have a group of racers that have a common goal of wanting to just go win a race. Pretty much all of us have full-time jobs, this is just on the side,” McReynolds said. “For us, being a brand new team, we have to keep our expectations in check. We have to work as hard as we can and make sure we have all the tools in the right places and we have to build a notebook.”
Much like McReynolds, Visconti is geared up and ready to go for his K&N Pro Series East owner’s debut at New Smyrna Speedway on February 12, which will be the first of the 13-race schedule for the series in 2018.
Heading into his first season as car owner, Visconti has expectations that the team will leave the races as successful as possible. Right now, the plan is to run a partial schedule, but there is an opportunity for them to attend more races along the way if they can.
“It depends on how well we do in those races, let’s just say we get lucky and finish inside the top three in most, if we can keep our team up there in the points, we would be having a discussion about going to the next race,” Visconti said.
Leaving each race with the car in one piece and the best finish possible is going to be the most important part of the effort for Visconti. They won’t have a ton of extra cars to work with in the shop, so bringing it home with damage would be helpful to the entire team.
“My expectations, with everything we have, and the amount of help we are getting, I would be very honest by saying that I feel like every race we are entered in, we should be a top five car, at least,” Visconti said. “That’s me being completely honest with you. We’ll have to see how it goes.”
“We kinda just hit it off on the phone, but that is easy to do, so when I was back in North Carolina, I had a meeting with Brandon and his dad, Larry,” Visconti said. “They came in and they were really excited right along with me. We had a great meeting. It just really seems like it all is going to work out. I’ve put the right people in the right place for this.”
For Visconti, this opportunity has been one of a lifetime. He will have backing from IGA The Reichert Group, a longtime sponsor of his team right up through the ranks. He has Doug Chouinard as the crew chief for the team.
“My wife, Marie, who is the owner of the team, she told me to do whatever it would take to make this happen,” Visconti said. “She is behind me 100 percent, and so is everyone else I have along with me. It’s really a puzzle, but instead of doing just a 100-piece puzzle, I’m doing a puzzle that is 450 pieces.”
For McReynolds, getting back behind the wheel is everything he could have wished for.
“I’m a racer, I’ve always worked on my own cars,” the 26-year-old said. “I’ve been working on the K&N cars at night when I’m done working during the day. I’m just looking forward to getting out there and running as hard as I can.”