Brendan Gaughan Post-Race Report - California
Brendan Gaughan considers southern California to be like a second home but Friday’s homecoming was unlike any he had ever experienced before at the 2.0-mile speedway in Fontana, California.
Gaughan came into California Speedway with a pole and a runner-up finish in three NCTS starts there and he had never finished worse than 21st. He was hoping to ride the wave of momentum off his top 25 finish at Daytona from coast to coast but unfortunately that wave petered out just after Friday’s qualifying session for the second race of the season.
The Orleans Racing Dodge posted the 15th fastest lap out of 38 entries and Gaughan claimed bragging rights among the Dodge Boys with the next fastest Ram 22nd on the starting grid.
The elation over the impressive qualifying run turned out to be short-lived. Gaughan had barely found his rhythm when something went amiss under the hood. On Lap 17, the No. 77 Dodge slowed dramatically on the backstretch and brought out the second caution of the race. Gaughan was able to get to pit road but it didn’t take long for the crew to determine that the problem was terminal.
Disappointed, Gaughan proceeded directly to the garage and was given credit for a 36th place finish.
“I don’t know if I hit something on the race track or what,” said Gaughan after parking the Orleans Hotel and Casino Dodge. “I came out of Turn 4 and there was a loud pop. I thought it was the driveshaft. The truck had oil pressure and everything. I drove down the back straightaway idling. I shut it off to coast and when I turned it back on, the engine had a bad vibration. I don’t know if we drove over something and put a hole in the pan or if something came out from the motor but there’s a hole in the oil pan. That’s pretty terminal.
“It really, really upsets me right now because this team has worked so hard for so long to prove that we were back,” Gaughan continued. “We were the top qualifying Dodge. We thought we were going to have something to compete with tonight as the defending champions of the race. To go out on Lap 17 is ridiculous. These are the days when you hate racing.”
Vowing to prevent a repeat of the team’s California experience Gaughan added, “We’ll hunt down what happened and I guarantee you the team won’t let the same thing happen twice. Kevin Kroyer makes some of the best engines in the business. When we find something we don’t let it happen twice. I can’t remember the last time I had a hole in the oil pan. I’ve been with Kevin since I was 15 years old and I can’t remember the last time something like that happened.”