Las Vegas, NV (Jan. 9, 2007) – New look. New name. Winning attitude.
Those words describe Brendan Gaughan and the No. 77 South Point Racing team as they speed into the 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season, and the year's first test this weekend at Daytona International Speedway.
Coming off a season-ending second-place run at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Gaughan and his Las Vegas-based race team spent the off-season preparing for a championship run in 2007.
The team switched manufacturers, moving to the Chevrolet camp with whom Gaughan celebrated two NASCAR championships in 2000 and 2001 in the NASCAR Grand National, West Division.
The team also changed names – to South Point Racing – due to an ownership shift in team owner Michael Gaughan's properties.
With the name change, came another difference. The familiar royal blue paint scheme of Gaughan's truck darkened to a navy hue on the new Silverados. And the name on the hood has been replaced with South Point, representing team owner Michael Gaughan's newest hotel and casino in Las Vegas.
All the changes have led to many long days and nights in the race shop, but Gaughan says that his team has never been more prepared for a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season than it is this season heading into the Daytona test.
“We're extremely excited about going to Daytona for the test this week, which is strange to say about the Daytona test because it is so boring,” Gaughan said. “Chevrolet has given us a really good package, and we are excited about working with them again.
“Our wind tunnel results say that we should be really good, so we're really excited. We want to go down to Daytona and win practice, and then our goal is to come back in February and win the race."
Following the Daytona test, the South Point Racing team will head further south to Homestead-Miami Speedway for another two-day test. In last year’s season finale at Homestead, Gaughan led 12 laps before finishing in the runner-up spot behind Mark Martin. It was the best run of the year for the No. 77 team, and it has helped build confidence in the Bryan Berry led team.
"That was last season no matter which way you look at it, but that finish gave a big morale boost to the whole team,” Gaughan said. “That was just a good way to end the season. If we would have ended on a bad note, it really would have made working so hard in the off-season difficult. But the guys are pumped. They have worked lots of hours and have been dedicated. You can feel the excitement in this race shop."
And Gaughan won't slow down at the conclusion of his Homestead test.
Following the test, Gaughan will fly back to Nevada to compete in the first off-road race of the SCORE season in Laughlin, NV. Gaughan, who established his racing prowess first in the desert, hopes to compete in all six SCORE International Desert Series races in 2007 and contend for the off-road championship.
"I've had a long dry spell when it comes to desert racing. I've dedicated so much of my time focusing on the South Point team, which is where my focus needs to be, “ Gaughan said. “But in 2005, Dr. Feldkamp and I teamed up to do the Vegas to Reno race and when we won, Dad and I got pumped up about desert racing again. We had missed it a lot.
“Since then, we have been building a buggy, and Derek Kreger has done a phenomenal job with it. It is gorgeous race car, and it looks like with the truck schedule, we are going to try to make the entire SCORE International Desert Racing Series in Class 1. The first race is the Laughlin Desert Challenge. Unfortunately, due to bad management on the desert racing program - which is run by me - we forgot to send in the entry blank so we will start 42nd. So I have my work cut out for me. It's going to be a long two day, but this race car can do it. It's that good."
Once out of the desert, Gaughan will fly back east for one more two-day test with his team at the short track at Lakeland (Fla.) before finally returning to the race shop at Las Vegas.
"It is an ambitious schedule for the whole South Point Racing team but it just shows how prepared we are and what a good job (General Manager) Tom Buzze has done,” Gaughan said. “The fact that we will be on three different tracks in a week is a testament to the hard work and dedication of this race team. There are teams that won't be able to make the Homestead test. Not only will we be at the Homestead test, but we have two Daytona Chevrolet Silverados and one Lakeland Chevrolet. That’s pretty incredible.
"I believe you create your own luck. Luck is not something you just trip over. We are better prepared than anybody in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and that translates into making your own luck which the South Point Racing team hopes will translate into wins."
BRENDAN GAUGHAN'S DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY STATS
NO. 77 SOUTH POINT RACING TEAM
Driver: Brendan Gaughan Las Vegas, NV
Team Owner: Michael Gaughan Las Vegas, NV
General Manager: Tom Buzze Syracuse, NY
Crew Chief: Bryan Berry Homestead, FL
Road Crew: Bill Caldwell Las Vegas, NV
Bill Holbrook Las Vegas, NV
Danny Goad Martinsville, VA
Calvin Gravely Martinsville, VA
Aaron Jimenez Las Vegas, NV
Clint Jennings Logan, OH
Chris Justice Greensboro, NC
Mike Harris Cape Girardeau, MO
Jim Marko Stevensville, MO
Harley Rauch Clovis, CA
Mike Roos Ripon, CA