Brendan Gaughan Post-Race Report - Michigan
Considering how much progress the Orleans Racing team made during their two-day visit to Michigan International Speedway, Brendan Gaughan’s 16th place finish in the Con-way Freight 200 was a bitter pill to swallow.
The instant Gaughan took to the 2.0-mile track in the first practice session he knew he was in for a challenging weekend. An evil vibration had the Las Vegas native hanging onto the steering wheel for dear life and it was all he could do just to bring it back to the garage in once piece.
At nearly 13.5 seconds off the pace, the crew had no choice but to institute a complete overhaul of the front end and thankfully for them they weren’t dealing with a one-day show.
It was then that Gaughan turned to long-time friend Robbie Gordon for assistance. Robbie took the Orleans Racing Dodge out for several laps early in the second practice and his feedback and advice to the crew proved to be invaluable. When Gaughan got back on the track during the session the truck showed significant improvement and was less than two seconds off the fastest time recorded.
By race day, Gaughan finally had something he could work with and he was able to put the No. 77 Orleans Hotel and Casino Dodge 20th on the starting grid for the 100-lap race.
The pit crew took advantage of several early cautions to make adjustments and then it was up to Gaughan to race through the pack.
Gaughan more than held his own on the multi-groove speedway and on a restart with 19 laps to go he was shown 13th in the running order. Three laps later, Gaughan was battling Todd Bodine for seventh when the two drivers went for the same piece of race track and the No. 77 Dodge bounced off the outside wall. Gaughan was able to run to the finish but the damage to the truck dashed any hope he had for a top five finish.
“It was just racing,” said Gaughan of the incident that ended his forward motion. “The 30 team has been pretty nice to us and helped us quite a bit this year. It’s just a bummer. It looks like a deal where his spotter didn’t tell him we were there. The 4 truck (Bobby Labonte) was on the outside too and when he came by he gave him room but we got put in the fence.
“It knocked our tow out and knocked the front fender in. We were tight already. Once that happened it just got worse. I was battling, beating and banging. On the green/white/checker, every lap I hit the wall. I did not lift. I didn’t care. I was not giving up another spot.
“Robby Gordon came down and helped us a ton on Friday. He gave us the idea to do what we did with the shock package. He helped me with the feel of the thing. He gave me an idea how to drive through it and gave the guys an idea how to fix it. He helped us a ton.
“He really, really bailed us out, so I really want to thank him.”