Gaughan Anxious To Return To The 1.5-Mile Tracks He Loves To Race
Brendan Gaughan can’t explain it. He doesn’t even begin to try and come up with an answer for why he likes Kansas Speedway or many of the other 1.5-mile race tracks that fill the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) schedule.
All Gaughan knows is that whatever the reason, the South Point Racing team has a history of excelling on the intermediate tracks – including Kansas Speedway, where Gaughan has three top-10s in five starts including a fourth-place finish at the track last season.
“All I really know is that I like big tracks,” Gaughan said. “If you go back to my off-road days, I liked the bigger tracks – the really big, fast tracks a lot more than I liked the tight ones. My first NASCAR race was the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“When you go to these big, aerodynamic tracks, you have to be a very well-prepared race team to keep the aero right on your truck, and I’ve always had good people preparing my trucks and at the track. I guess that’s part of it – that and that our team has a driver who likes going fast instead of going slow.”
Whatever the case, Gaughan’s love for the 1.5-mile tracks is obvious in his stats. Of his eight career wins, six have come on tracks at least 1.5-miles in size or greater (Texas-4, Michigan and Las Vegas).
Last year’s stop at Kansas Speedway provided Gaughan and his South Point team with a much needed spark when the team scored a fourth-place finish.
“Last year, we were struggling pretty badly and we hit the summer stretch,” Gaughan said. “It started with Kansas where we had back-to-back top fives. We would really like to see that trend start over again and continue through the year.”
And with all the extra work that the South Point Racing team has put into its Chevrolet racing program Gaughan expects to see positive results at Kansas. In just the past few days the team has used the seven-post rig at Joe Gibbs Racing to test different setups on the race truck. The South Point Racing team has also traveled to the wind tunnel.
“The more information and engineering that you can gather the better a race team is,” Gaughan said. “We now have almost two complete weeks on pull down rigs thanks to Chevrolet and another wind tunnel date with two of our favorite trucks that are mile and a half trucks. Whether you learn what you are doing wrong or what you are doing right, you always learn when you do these things.
“We feel that we’re as prepared as we have ever been at any point. Chevrolet has really stepped up again for us to get us in this position and we’re really looking forward to the stretch of races we have coming up.”
For Gaughan and the entire NCTS, the race at Kansas Speedway also will have special meaning. It will be the first race where the trucks run a Virginia Tech logo to honor the victims of the tragedy in Blacksburg, Va.
“I’ve always been of the opinion that sports helps heal. People rally around sports,” said Gaughan, a 1997 Georgetown University graduate. “NASCAR is one of Virginia’s favorite sports. NASCAR country is in Virginia, so I definitely think having all the NASCAR teams run their decal is important.”
In addition to running the ‘VT’ logo on the truck’s B-post, Gaughan’s South Point racing team will also have the logo on its pit crew helmets.
“It doesn’t matter if you are ACC or Big East if you are from Virginia or from Las Vegas, Nevada. Our hearts and prayers go out to everybody involved,” Gaughan said.
“NASCAR, the whole nation, is taking a stance to try to help out Virginia Tech as much as they can. I’m proud to run a Hokie sticker on my truck.”
Football Still A Passion for South Point’s Chris Justice
At least one crew member in the garage will be paying attention to Saturday's NFL draft before the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series takes the green flag at Kansas Speedway. Chris Justice, the tire specialist and catch can man, for Brendan Gaughan's No. 77 South Point Racing Chevrolet is a former collegiate football player.
Justice was a starting defensive back for Wake Forest University from 1997-2001. Although racing is now Justice's sport of choice, football has a special place in his heart.
“Football is always going to be a part of my life, so I keep an eye on the draft and where the college players are going - especially the Wake players and the other ACC guys. Overall, I think an ACC guy - Calvin Johnson, a receiver from Georgia Tech, will be the first pick and will go to Oakland. Johnson was the ACC player of the year, and he is an impact player. He'll be a good pick for Oakland. I think quarterbacks will go second and third - JeMarcus Russell (LSU) and Brady Quinn (Notre Dame).
“Since we're in Kansas this weekend, I know that everyone here is going to be paying attention to what the Chiefs do with their pick. My guess is that they'll take wide receiver Duane Jarrett from USC if he is still available at 23rd pick.”