JUNE 27, 2004
RACE RECAP IN-A-FLASH
NO. 77 STARTING POSITION – 33rd
POLE POSITION – Jeff Gordon
NO. 77 FINISHING POSITION – 26th
RACE WINNER – Jeff Gordon (Started 1st)
NO. 77 DRIVER POINTS – 29th
NO. 77 OWNER POINTS – 30th
Sonoma, CA. (June 27, 2004) – Brendan Gaughan completed his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series road course debut at Infineon Raceway on Sunday with a 26th-place finish. With the event behind him, Gaughan is set for next week's return to Daytona International Speedway.
Gaughan, who qualified in the 33rd starting position for the event, commented that it was driver error that placed the No. 77 Kodak EasyShare/Jasper Dodge in the bottom half of the starting line-up. "I fell off coming through turn 11," Gaughan said. "The trick to road courses is to keep all four wheels rolling on the racing surface and I missed it." With qualifying behind him, Gaughan set his sights on race-trim.
During practice Saturday, Gaughan followed his road course enthusiast teammate, Rusty Wallace, and was able to get a handle on where to set up the turns.
The newly-gained knowledge benefited Gaughan, as he was able to work his way through the competition early during the event. By lap 26, he had climbed into the 20th position and appeared to be knocking the positions off, one-by-one. Unfortunately, his momentum was broken when Tony Stewart swept into turn 11 under the No. 77 Kodak EasyShare/Jasper Dodge, driving it deep, which resulted in a spin for Gaughan.
Gaughan lost several positions and was never able to recover, though he finished the event on the lead lap.
Throughout the event, Gaughan claims to have gone off the track once of his own making and expressed displeasure over the team's two-way radio, with a non-series regular who used rough driving to gain positions, the same way Stewart had earlier on.
Despite finishing outside the top 20, Gaughan is still confident in his road course abilities earned during sports car and Winston West events.
He is looking forward to his next road course event at Watkins Glen in August and hopes to have a better showing at the end of that race.
Gaughan's teammates, Ryan Newman and Rusty Wallace finished the event in the 14th and 28th positions, respectively. Newman recovered from a flat tire requiring a pit stop under green-flag conditions, while Wallace watched a top-five slip away after his Penske-Jasper—powered Dodge ran out of fuel, one lap from the event's completion.
The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series returns to action Saturday evening at Daytona International Speedway, and with the attention the Penske-Jasper Racing team has paid to its speedway program, Gaughan is excited about his potential for a top-10 finish.
"Our speedway program was competitive at the beginning of the year, but we have had time to make some changes and find more aero in the car," Gaughan said. "Penske-Jasper Engines always brings the power, we just need to get the car moving in the right direction and we can get a top-10 finish."