By Ryan Smithson, Turner Sports Interactive May 3, 2004
10:54 AM EDT (1454 GMT)
FONTANA, Calif. -- Brendan Gaughan had sat in a race car for 24 hours before --
racing in the Mexican desert requires such stamina -- but he got a rude
awakening as to how tough 500 miles can be in the Nextel Cup Series.
Gaughan was admittedly burned in the britches following the Auto Club 500 at
blistering California Speedway, but he rode a full tank of gas to a sixth-place
"I wish we could have got a top-five," Gaughan said. "I'm a greedy dude, but
I've got to thank my boys. They never gave up on me, and I drive hard for 'em,
but I got a little tired."
It was easily Gaughan's best career finish. His first top-10 run. And the third
straight race where he's finished better than the previous week.
You get the idea.
Gaughan was also the week's biggest mover in the points -- he jumped five spots
"I played four years of college basketball," Gaughan said. "Anybody that wants
to say that racecar drivers aren't athletes can see me."
Gaughan baked in the car for the final hour of the race as temperatures reached
150 degrees in the cockpit.
"My feet aren't (burned), but it is other parts of my anatomy," Gaughan joked.
"We burned ourselves up and down our tailbone area."
Gaughan, unlike much of the field, didn't have a fuel problem. On the final
stop, his Penske Racing mates got him off pit road in 13.5 seconds despite two
adjustments to the car.
"Each week we're getting career-best finishes. That's the third in a row. We
finished sixth, and there's no place better to do it than the West Coast," said
Gaughan, a Las Vegas native.