Gaughan Wants to Win Memphis' Elvis Trophy for Las Vegas
“Viva, Las Vegas!” That’s the Elvis Presley song that Brendan Gaughan hopes to be hearing when the checkered flag waves at Memphis Motorsports Park this weekend.
Gaughan has one mission as he heads to Memphis – to conquer the short track and take home the unique Elvis Presley trophy, which has become a favorite and highly coveted trophy on the circuit.
“We all know the Memphis is home to Graceland and Elvis,” he said. “But Vegas was like his second home. I would love to take that Elvis trophy to Las Vegas this year and make its home in the South Point Hotel & Casino.”
To do that, Gaughan will have to put aside his aversion to short tracks for a couple of practices, qualifying and 200 laps of racing. The driver of the No. 77 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Silverado much prefers to speed around the big, fast tracks instead of having to brake on the asphalt ovals that are under a mile. But on the positive side, Gaughan says if he has to compete on a short track, Memphis Motorsports Park tops the list as his favorite.
“I can’t explain it, but I like that track,” he said. “Amazingly enough, as much as I say I hate short tracks – if you are looking for a bright spot on my career as far as Craftsman Truck short track racing goes, it’s Memphis.
“I’ve never done fantastic there, but I’ve never done really badly – even through my roughest year in 2005, we had a good finish there. We actually finished third, and it was one of the hottest races I have ever driven.
“It’s not an easy track to drive. The back straight-away has a huge bump going into turn three. It’s got that wall real close on the exit of four. Memphis is a pretty tough short track.”
In four starts at Memphis, Gaughan has two top-10 finishes, including a third-place effort in 2005. The other two finishes were both in the top-20. This year, Gaughan and his South Point Racing team are confident they can better their record at Memphis and contend for the win.
“I had the best short track truck I had ever had at Martinsville earlier this season, and I messed up,” Gaughan said. “I owe the guys one, and I can’t think of a better place to make it up to them than at Memphis.
“The Martinsville truck, I still believe, was the best short track truck that I have ever driven. I can’t wait to drive it again this weekend. My crew chief Bryan Berry has worked really hard over the past few months to improve our short track program, and we have shown glimpses of how good our program is at Martinsville and Mansfield – at least in the practices. But I want to prove that we have a great short track program with a good qualifying and race run at Memphis.
“Memphis is this Las Vegas race team’s chance to go hang out and party,” Gaughan adds. “We always stay right near Beale Street, and we would love to be out on the town celebrating a win.”
But Gaughan knows that he’ll have to beat and bang his way to the finish line if he wants to come out on top because everyone wants the chance to celebrate on Beale Street and claim that priceless Elvis piece.
“I want to bring that trophy to Vegas,” Gaughan said. “Some people who work for us at the South Point were very good friends and hung out with Elvis and the Colonel. So, I think it would be fun to bring that here. It would mean a lot to everybody.
“We’d put that trophy up at the South Point and say ‘Hey, Elvis has a new home.’ And we’d see if we could get an Elvis impersonator to play the lounge. It would be really cool.”
Qualifying at Memphis Motorsports Park
Although Brendan Gaughan says that his South Point Racing’s short track program is the best it has ever been, Gaughan has not been able to showcase that in his qualifying efforts at two previous short tracks this season.
At Martinsville, Gaughan qualified 34th and at Mansfield, Gaughan started 35th. Gaughan’s goal this weekend is to prove just how good his short track truck and program is not only in the race, but also in qualifying.
“Obviously, it’s important to qualify well at a short track,” Gaughan said. “If you start up front, you have a leg up because you don’t have to mass so many trucks in such tight quarters.
“My bad qualifying effort at Martinsville was my fault. I messed up. Then at Mansfield, I had the bad luck of going out first after the jet dryers had dried the track following a rain storm. I didn’t really have a chance there.
“Each short track we have been to, our race truck has been great from the time we have unloaded it. It’s been one of the top trucks in practice, but I haven’t showed how good it is in qualifying which means I’ve had my work cut out for me in the race. I want to change that this weekend.
“It would be nice to practice up front, qualify up front and race up front this weekend at Memphis – and that’s our goal. We know we have a Chevrolet Silverado and a team that is capable to doing that.”