Brendan Gaughan Post Race Report - Atlanta
Looking to build on their 12th-place finish at Auto Club Speedway of Southern California in the last Craftsman Truck Series race, Brendan Gaughan and the International MaxxForce Diesel Power team hit the fast-paced Atlanta Motor Speedway with the same truck, hoping to use what they learned to continue a charge in the points. With two top-10 finishes at the mile-and-a-half track in Hampton, Ga., last year, expectations were high for Gaughan and the Bryan Berry-led No. 10 Circle Bar Racing team.
Although Gaughan struggled with an ill-handling truck in the only practice session on Friday, the MaxxForce team was able to refer to notes obtained from a test at Atlanta Motor Speedway in late January to put a setup under the truck that would race well in the nighttime conditions. Starting the race in the 24th position on the grid, Gaughan timed the green flag perfectly and advanced to 15th place by the second lap of the race. Content to feel out the truck for the start of the race, Gaughan rode in the top 15 until the race’s first caution flag waved. Gaughan pitted on lap 19 for two tires and a wedge adjustment to the truck and exited the pits in sixth place for the lap 27 restart.
With a loose-handling condition beginning to develop following the first pit stop, the team took advantage of a lap 41 caution to pit for four tires and three rounds of wedge in the left rear. Gaughan was holding steady in 16th place at the midpoint of the 130-lap race, and made his third scheduled stop of the evening on lap 90 as the race went green for an extended period.
When the third caution flag of the race waved at lap 113 for a brief rain shower, Gaughan was again in need of an adjustment to cure an ill-handling truck that lacked rear grip. Berry called for a two-tire stop, but NASCAR officials ruled that the two right-side tires did not reach pit wall before the No. 10 MaxxForce Ford pulled out of its pit stall, so Gaughan was forced to restart at the tail end of the longest line. Undeterred by his 19th-place position on the restart, Gaughan took advantage of the restart to gain a few positions, but quickly radioed into the pits that he had a problem. Faced with a tire issue and needing a quick caution flag, Gaughan was greeted by the second rain shower of the evening on lap 121.
With the red-flag condition lasting nearly 10 minutes to dry the race track, Berry and the crew devised a plan for the final restart of the evening. When the red flag was lifted, Gaughan pitted for four tires and a final track bar adjustment. When the race resumed on lap 127, Gaughan made his move from 19th to close out the race in 15th place. Although it was not the result that the team was looking for, the never-say-die attitude allowed Gaughan to advance five positions in the driver standings. Following the third race of the season, Gaughan currently resides 20th in the Craftsman Truck Series driver standings. With three weekends until the next race, Gaughan and his MaxxForce team will spend Wednesday and Thursday testing at the short track of Martinsville Speedway in preparation for the Kroger 250 on Saturday, March 29.
Gaughan’s Quotes: "We had a whole lot better Ford than this. We made a few mistakes on pit road and I made mistakes on the race track. We all make mistakes. It's what happens. I had a lot better MaxxForce Diesel Power Ford than what we showed tonight. Bryan Berry [crew chief] will make this thing better. A good thing, just like California, we're bringing this F-150 back in one piece and we'll make it better.
"We had a little issue where I almost tore the wall down and had a little mishap with tires, but I got lucky. I felt something was wrong and saved it. Then we got a caution. In the end, Bryan Berry, what I love is that he never quits. He told me to come in and we took the chance. We took the penalty to pit early and then ended up 15th and gained five spots from making an adjustment on that last stop. Bryan doesn't quit on me and I don't quit on him. We'll bring our MaxxForce Ford back to Martinsville for the test this week. For a change, I'm actually looking forward to Martinsville. I've been struggling on the big tracks, so let's go where I normally don't like and see what I can do there."