Brandon McReynolds extended his streak of top-five finishes in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West on Saturday with a runner-up finish in the Bakersfield 150 presented by GPS at Kern County Raceway Park.
It marked the seventh consecutive top-five finish and third straight podium finish for the 23-year-old Mooresville, North Carolina driver – who pilots the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota for Bill McAnally Racing.
“We continue to show our consistency as a team,” said McReynolds, a member of the NASCAR Next program that spotlights NASCAR’s rising stars. “Obviously, we’re getting better. Everyone on our NAPA Toyota worked really hard today. The car was good. It just kind of depended on how our restarts would shake out. If you restarted on the bottom, just like last time here, you would lose a little track position, and if you restarted on the outside, you were able to gain a little.”
With back-to-back second-place finishes, McReynolds feels his first win is near.
“We’re one spot short right now, but I feel like we can get there with three races to go,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep our heads down and keep plugging away.”
McReynolds started the race on the front row, after posting a second-fast lap of 18.325 seconds (98.457 mph) in qualifying earlier in the afternoon. He held second in the opening laps, but slipped back several spots following multiple restarts and was sixth just before the midway point of the race. McReynolds’ crew was able to make adjustments during the midway break, providing him with the opportunity to work his way back to the front as the race wound down.
The eighth and final caution of the event led to the race distance being extended for a green-white-checkered finish and set the stage for a dramatic finish. McReynolds charged his way to third on the restart, then gained second as Dylan Lupton inherited the win when race leader Greg Pursley was penalized for a restart violation.
“We were a little snug the first half,” McReynolds said. “A lot of that was just being behind people in traffic. The adjustments at halfway really helped and brought the car to life. I’m really happy with the progress that we’ve made since we were here last time.”
McReynolds – who finished fourth when the series visited the beautiful high-banked, half-mile Kern track in May – remains third in the championship standings – 26 points out of first and 11 behind second. He has two poles, nine top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in the first 11 races, as he competes in his first full season in the series.