Gaughan Pulls Out An 11th Place Finish On Long KC Day
For Brendan Gaughan and the South Point Racing team, the motto at Kansas Speedway on Saturday afternoon was ‘don’t give up.’
It was the attitude that helped the No. 77 team to score an 11th place finish on a day where Gaughan complained of an ill-handling race truck and the pit crew stayed busy on pit road.
“This finish today was a great recovery,” Gaughan said. “The South Point boys and crew chief Bryan Berry just kept working on this truck and didn’t give up on it. It’s days like this – when you can salvage a race truck that isn’t so good and get a good finish – that you can gain points and help out championship points finish.”
After spinning out in qualifying, Gaughan was scheduled to start 33rd. However because the team changed tires and made some adjustments to the truck after the qualifying lap, Gaughan was forced to start at the rear of the field.
When the first caution of the day came out at Lap 7, Gaughan brought his No. 77 Chevrolet down pit road for adjustments to a race truck that he said was very loose. The South Point pit crew put two spring rubbers and went three rounds down on the left rear. They also opened up both front shocks.
Gaughan returned to the race track in 36th place. He quickly picked up four spots on the race track, but he told the team that the handling hadn’t gotten any better. Gaughan said he was ‘wicked tight’ exiting the corner and he had a ‘massive twitch’ in the center of turns one and two.
Another caution at Lap 21 allowed the South Point team to come back down pit road for more adjustments. The team put one round and a half in the right front spring and added fuel.
It was the call to add fuel that would end up being key for the South Point team as the race progressed.
Gaughan had to make one more stop before the green to replace a missing hood pin, so he restarted in 34th place at Lap 23.
After the changes, Gaughan steadily worked to gain any spots on the race track. However, he still complained of a bad twitch upon entry and in the center of the corner. At Lap 46, Gaughan was in 30th place and went down one lap to the leader.
But crew chief Bryan Berry’s fuel strategy was paying off as the leaders had to begin coming down pit road for fuel. Gaughan began moving up on the board and got his lap back. At Lap 71, Gaughan was in 10th place when the caution flag waved – Gaughan was one of 16 trucks still on the lead lap.
Gaughan brought the No. 77 Chevy down pit road for four tires and fuel. Gaughan returned to pit road to take the round and a half back out of the right front. The team also adjusted and opened the tow on the left front, dropped the track bar three rounds and added fuel.
The No. 77 returned to the track in 13th spot for the restart at Lap 78 – just 16 trucks were on the lead lap.
Gaughan held his own with the lead trucks, moving between the 12th and 14th spots over the next 30 laps. At Lap 107, Gaughan was in 12th spot, but he went one lap down to the leader.
Luckily, the caution flag waved at Lap 109, and Gaughan was awarded the “Lucky Dog.” He returned to the lead lap.
Again, the team pitted to work on the truck’s handling although Gaughan said the truck was ‘the most drive-able it had been.’ The team changed four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustment.
Gaughan returned to the track in 12th place for the restart at Lap 114 and the final run of the race. Gaughan was able to gain one more position and finished 11th.
“Great recovery. Man, that was way more than I expected. Bryan Berry and this whole South Point team, these guys did a fantastic job,” Gaughan said.
“We pitted seven times. We got lucky because we had fuel in the truck on that long green run which is how we were able to stay on the lead lap and that saved us. Bryan did a great job with that.
“I want to thank Mark Smith for his motor. We all know that Kevin Kroyer normally does our engines, but Mark’s motor kept me in this thing. We were loose, we were tight, but we had enough power to keep up when we needed to. This was a lot of work by our boys and I am really proud of them for being able to even salvage anything close to a top-10.”
Gaughan is currently 13th in driver’s points – just 78 points out of the top 10. The next race is on Friday, May 18 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C. The race will be aired at 6 p.m. PT on SPEED and MRN.