Gaughan Scores Best Finish of Season at Michigan
Brendan Gaughan drove the No. 77 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Silverado to a third-place finish – its best of the season – on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.
“We had a Chevrolet Silverado that could have won this race today,” Gaughan said. “But with the monkey that we had on our back – the gorilla actually – I’d say bringing this Silverado home in third feels great, but it’s not what I want. I want more.”
Earlier on Saturday, Gaughan qualified in 11th spot for the Michigan 200. However, after two consecutive DNFs, Gaughan was cautiously optimistic about his outlook for the day.
With the drop of the green flag, Gaughan radioed his crew and said that the No. 77 Silverado was too loose. He lost nine spots in the opening laps as he worked to heat up his tires and find a groove that would suit his loose race truck.
After several laps, Gaughan was able to get a rhythm and pick back up some of the lost positions. When the first caution flag waved at Lap 28, Gaughan was in 16th place. He told crew chief Bryan Berry that he was still very loose, but that he had a great truck with great horsepower.
Gaughan brought the No. 77 down pit road to his crew’s attention. The crew made an air pressure adjustment and a wedge adjustment, changed four tires and added fuel. The crew’s work on pit road helped Gaughan to pick up one spot.
“Bryan does some fantastic jobs with adjustments,” Gaughan said after the race. “He is really an amazing crew chief when it comes to pit road. The guys did great the first pit stop. We came in 16th – we came out 15th. You can’t ask for anything better when the guys gain you spots on pit road.”
Following the team’s adjustments to the race truck, Gaughan went back out on the track and immediately began to pick off spots on the race track. In less than 10 laps, Gaughan moved his No. 77 Silverado into the top 10.
When the caution flag waved at Lap 55, Gaughan was sixth on the track. Gaughan told Berry and crew that he was still a little too loose. He was also experiencing a little tight condition exiting turn two.
Berry worked to help Gaughan by having the team make an air pressure adjustment. The team also changed right side tires and added fuel.
For a second time, the South Point Racing pit crew helped Gaughan to pick up spots on pit road. He returned to the race track in fourth spot for the restart at Lap 60.
Running the high line on the track, Gaughan quickly took over third spot. By Lap 72 when the caution flag waved again, Gaughan was sitting in the second spot on the race track.
Over the race’s closing laps, Gaughan battled with four other drivers for the top spot falling as far back as fifth and climbing as high as the runner-up position on the race track. In the end, the handling on Gaughan’s truck prevented him from going for the win and left him with a third-place finish. It was Gaughan’s first top-five finish of the season.
“In the end, I just got a little bit too tight coming out of turn two,” Gaughan said. “That’s the only spot that hurt me.
“I think we had the winning truck and the driver blew it. That’s the deal here at Michigan, you can run anywhere on the track, and I just got a little close to the outside wall. That is where I like it and I like that nobody goes as high as me.
“The good thing is, I think we showed some of the potential of this South Point Racing team today.”
Gaughan moved into 15th place in the championship driver’s points standings – just 104 points out of 10th place. The No. 77 South Point Racing team is now 17th in the championship owner’s points standings.
“I think the buzz word for the South Point Racing team is perseverance. We’ve got a bunch of great guys who do not quit, who do not give up – they persevere. And today was a perfect example of that,” Gaughan said.
“We have had good trucks and good runs, but bad luck. We came here today with a very solid Chevrolet Silverado and that is due to the good logistics and preparation of this team and the good support from Chevrolet. Now, we want to see if we can follow this up with another solid run at Milwaukee next week.”