Orleans Racing's only driver has come close at California Speedway
By Mark Aumann, NASCAR.COM
A return to the site of previous success might be just the ticket for Brendan Gaughan and the Orleans Racing team.
Steve Park's Craftsman Truck Series victory at California Speedway last spring was the high-water mark for Orleans in 2005. Park had three more top-10s before the team released him from his contract with five races left in the season. Scott Lynch, who finished out the year, had a best of 17th at Homestead.
Of his seven top-10s last season, Gaughan came closest to Victory Lane at Memphis, finishing third behind Brandon Whitt and David Reutimann.
With Orleans scaling down to only one Truck this season, Gaughan wound up 24th in the season-opener at Daytona -- but he felt the team accomplished some goals: mainly just to get some badly needed momentum on its side.
"At Daytona, we did just what we said we'd do," Gaughan said. "We rode in the back for 50 laps, then went right to the front. That was what we had to do to prove to ourselves and to prove to everyone else that we were busy over the offseason."
Heading into Friday night's racetickets.com 200 (9 p.m. ET SPEED), Gaughan believes there's a comfort level at California that exists no place else. With two top-three finishes in four previous Truck starts there, Gaughan knows what it takes to run up front.
"It's been a track that not only is on the West Coast and we're the West Coast team, but it fits my driving style," he said. "It's the place I tried to make my first Cup start.
"I've never won it in a Truck and that's always bothered me ... we'd finish second, we'd finish third. We had a flat while we were in the lead and ended up finishing second. We could never get that "W" until Steve got the win for us."
The Las Vegas native is partial to the Inland Empire, having spent time watching his father race off-road vehicles in the area.
"Most of my life racing, since I was 15 until I was almost 25, I spent at Walker Evans Racing," Gaughan said. "I've been around that area a lot, running parts for Walker Evans Racing.
"I went to the old Riverside races when I was younger to watch my father race. To have so many fans from the Walker Evans days, have so many fans being the West Coast guys -- it's almost like Vegas for me. It's a second home."