KINGSPORT — As far as comebacks go, the return of racing to Kingsport Speedway couldn’t have gone any better.
A large crowd watched Brandon McReynolds hold off Jamey Caudill by a nose at the finish line to win the UARA- STARS Anytime Fitness/Courtesy Chevrolet 150 on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
McReynolds won the pole position, led every lap and displayed skill beyond his years by holding off Caudill for the final 10 laps.
“I kind of wore out my car there at the beginning and Jamey had an awesome car,” McReynolds said. “He has always run me clean so it was pretty cool to know that he was behind me.
“I knew he would give me a run for my money, but he’d do it the clean way.”
Caudill did indeed keep it clean. After the 11th and final caution of the day, he was able to stick to McReynolds’ bumper for the last 10 laps following the restart.
Caudill finally got the nose of his No. 50 machine under McReynolds’ No. 28 coming out of turn four on the final lap, but McReynolds won the drag race to the checkered flag by the slimmest of margins.
“The only thing I wish I had done different, I wish I had started pressuring him earlier than I did,” Caudill said. “I got there with about 100 to go and started pressuring him and he started driving harder and getting looser.
“I just needed one more lap.”
Caudill qualified second and ran there for the entire race. Early on, he had his hands full holding off Matt McCall while McReynolds set a torrid pace out front.
As it turned out, McReynolds admitted he may have been driving a little too hard in the early stages of the race.
“I think I might have overheated my brakes because I started getting a little free in and locking up the left front a little bit,” he said. “I just wore out my rear tires there at the beginning trying to set a good pace.”
As the race wore on, the yellow flags flew with greater frequency. After sitting in silence for seven years, the old bullring seemed intent on making up for lost time by chewing up race cars and spitting out scrap metal.
McReynolds withstood Caudill’s pressure on all 11 restarts, but by the last restart following a caution on lap 135, it was clear Caudill had done a better job of saving his equipment.
Instead of panicking, however, the 18-year-old son of NASCAR legend Larry McReynolds stayed cool and kept Caudill at bay.
“I’ve learned that you’ve got to be smart,” McReynolds said. “He was a lot better than me, but I just slowed down and paced myself.”
Caudill’s runner-up finish allowed him to pick up a little ground on McCall, the series points leader. McCall finished third while Paddy Rodenbeck and Lee Tissot rounded out the top five.
McReynolds also managed to shatter the record for the fastest lap at Kingsport Speedway. The previous mark was 15.236 seconds, but McReynolds easily surpassed it with the 15.101 effort that put him on the pole.
The final UARA-STARS event of the season will be run next weekend at Concord Speedway in North Carolina.
1 - Brandon McReynolds #28
2 - Jamey Caudill #50
3 - Matt McCall #23
4 - Paddy Rodenbeck #81
5 - Lee Tissott #44
6 - Nate Monteith 14
7 - Wade Day #4
8 - Zeke Shell #97
9 - Coleman Pressley #59
10 - Dennis Queen #92
11 - Jeff Woodward #94
12 - Josh Brock #17
13 - Luke Laney #24
14 - Kyle Grissom #32
15 - Keith Stiltner #22
16 - Brennan Poole #5
17 - Matt Kurzejewski #70
18 - Wayne Hale #19
19 - Brian Blevins #40
20 - Garrett Campbell #12
21 - Paul Shull #48
22 - Grant McGinnis #41
23 - Jeff Mupin #51
24 - Brian Rose #72
25 - Caleb Holman #74
26 - Bruce Blessing #55