FOOD CITY 500
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
MARCH 28, 2004
POST RACE REPORT
RACE RECAP IN-A-FLASH
NO. 77 STARTING POSITION – 7th
NO. 77 TIME/SPEED – 15.064 Seconds/127.377 MPH
POLE POSITION – Ryan Newman
POLE TIME/SPEED – 14.954 Seconds/128.313 MPH
NO. 77 FINISHING POSITION – 20th
RACE WINNER – Kurt Busch (Started 13th)
DRIVER POINTS – 26th OWNER POINTS – 26th
Brendan Gaughan claims he is not a short-track racer, but after his performance during Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, he has been encouraged to rethink this proclamation.
After spending his morning with Tom Jane, star of the new movie, “The Punisher”, Gaughan rolled off the grid in the seventh position.
He worked diligently throughout the event to stay out of trouble, but his efforts were futile thanks to a late race incident that sent the No. 77 Dodge, with a special paint scheme promoting “The Punisher”, spinning on the front straightaway. Gaughan said he was pleased with the car’s handling from the start of the race though he had difficulty keeping it to the inside of the track. After settling into his racing groove, Gaughan radioed crew chief Shane Wilson and told him the car was tight under throttle but it became loose late in the turns.
After the race’s first caution flag waved on lap 57, Gaughan brought his car down pit road for minor adjustments. His pit crew delivered four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment to loosen the car. Gaughan came down pit road in the10th position, but returned to the track in fifth after his team performed a lightening fast pit stop, completing their tasks in just over 13 seconds.
Prior to the restart on lap 65, Gaughan’s mentor, former Cup series driver Buddy Baker, reminded Gaughan to protect the inside, as that was the only place to pass at Bristol. Again, Gaughan settled into his racing groove and maintained fifth position. When NASCAR displayed the race’s second caution flag on lap 100, Gaughan informed his crew that his car felt good all the way around the track. He then asked for a report on Penske teammate and race leader Rusty Wallace.
Gaughan came in for service on lap 106 and received four tires and fuel, again in just over 13 seconds. When Gaughan returned to the track this time, he was posted third, two positions higher than when he entered pit road. Gaughan’s crew continued to provide fast stops throughout the day and he remained in the top-five until he practically raced the rubber off the tires working around lapped traffic.
Due to the wear on the tires, the car’s handling felt tighter and Gaughan was concerned he would damage a right front tire. Gaughan pitted under green-flag conditions on lap 368, placing him one lap down, but he received a break when the next caution flag was displayed just 11 laps later and he was in position to get his lap back under NASCAR’s “Lucky Dog” rule.
On lap 481, Dale Earnhardt Jr. hit the rear bumper of the No. 77 Dodge and Gaughan spun down the frontstretch. After coming to rest on the track’s apron with damage to his car’s nose, Gaughan headed back onto the track to catch up to the lead-lap cars to prepare to pit. He came down pit road on lap 484 to receive four fresh tires. The team pulled the sheet metal off the tires and Gaughan returned to the track. He came in one lap later to allow the team to pull the car’s nose off the radiator and returned to the track on the lead lap.
The field received the green flag on lap 488, but not for long. The yellow flag was displayed for another wreck on lap 492 and one lap later, the red flag was given to halt racing activity on the track for cleanup. After the cleanup and a quickie yellow, the field took the green flag for a two-lap shootout.
Gaughan completed the Food City 500 in the 20th position on the lead lap.
The Food City 500 ran under caution 11 times for 85 laps and the race event was red flagged once. There were 13 lead changes among 10 drivers.
PENSKE RACING TEAMMATES
No. 2 Rusty Wallace
Start – 4th Finish – 2nd
Driver Points – 17th Owner Points – 17th
No. 12 Ryan Newman
Start – 1st Finish – 7th
Driver Points – 5th Owner Points – 5th
No. 77 Brendan Gaughan
Start – 7th Finish – 20th
Driver Points – 26th Owner Points – 26th