by Mike Snow - Orleans Racing
Brendan Gaughan isn't really a fan of short track racing but after posting his best finish of the season at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway he may start to rethink his position.
An early qualifying draw on Saturday didn't help the #77 Jasper Engine team's initial efforts. Persistent rain delayed the start of qualifying and early runners, of which Gaughan was one, were faced with an ultra-slick track that kept speeds down.
That put Gaughan 34th on the starting grid, and a long way to go to the front.
Undaunted, Gaughan methodically worked his #77 Jasper Engines Dodge toward the front all the while avoiding the numerous mishaps that set the yellow flag waving 13 times during the race. Spotter help for Gaughan came from not only seasoned veteran spotter Bill “Batman” Holbrook, but also Jasper Engines president, Doug Bawel.
Gaughan ran as high as sixth in the event, but he was forced to make two consecutive pit stops under caution to address rear tire pressure issues. With those resolved Gaughan got back on track and continued to make forward progress.
When the checkered flag flew Gaughan was on the lead lap running 15th, beating his previous season best finish at California Speedway by six positions.
“We had a top-10 run going but we didn’t finish there,” said a disappointed Gaughan after parking his #77 Jasper Engines Dodge. “The boys did a great job on the truck and if not for that tire pressure problem we’d of gotten a much better finish.”
The short track experience at Mansfield marked the first time that Gaughan and interim crew chief Tony “Rambo” Liberati worked together and the two communicated as if together for years.
“Rambo did a heck of a job for us,” began Gaughan on “Rambo’s” pinch-hitting for the team at Mansfield. “He stayed cool all weekend and when he ordered changes for the Jasper Engines Dodge they fixed whatever problem I was having at the time.
“We’ve got a young team here and “Rambo” helped them along. I know that they’re getting better with every week.”
Gaughan's top-15 finish propelled him to 30th in driver points (31st in owner points) as team readies themselves for competition under the lights at Lowe's Motor Speedway on March 20th