Gaughan, South Point Racing Test Bristol Motor Speedway
Bristol Motor Speedway is no doubt one of the most action packed, exciting races on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series circuit. On Monday, Brendan Gaughan and the South Point Racing team were among 30 teams to be the first to test the track, which has undergone changes this year to improve the concrete surface and add progressive banking to the short track.
Gaughan turned 318 laps on the .533-mile Tennessee short track – the most of any driver at the test – and posted the sixth fastest time of the day – a 16.142 second lap. Travis Kvapil turned the quickest lap at 16.040 seconds.
"One of the things we've been talking about is how far this South Point Chevrolet team has come in terms of preparation, and we unloaded good,” Gaughan said. “We were one of the first 10 trucks on the race track, and Bryan Berry (crew chief) and Mike Roos (shock specialist) had stuff they wanted to try, and we tried it. We never became the best truck today. I have to say that I don't think we're the happiest bunch here at the end of the day. We don't think we have a Chevrolet yet that can win this race, but we ended up sixth on the board.
“We had a good truck, and we definitely got some laps in. We know what the new track feels like, and we have a good idea of what we need to do to get better.”
Berry and the team threw numerous changes at the race truck in the course of the eight hour test to help Gaughan get the best feel for the new surface.
"We only changed the front and the back and all four shocks,” Berry said. “ Bristol is not the same monster that it used to be. If I knew whole answer, we'd be the fastest truck here
"The track is definitely smoother. The big transitions that we used to have to worry about as far as the shock package we would run, we don't have to worry about now. We're down on front spring, too. All that figures into the overall package here.
"We ended today with changes we wanted to make, but I think we can make it better than what it is now. We ran 300 laps but we would sure like to run a 100 more. There will probably be some more rubber on the track when we come back in August, and the race track should be a little faster. We're going to go back, study what we learned, and see if we can get some more speed and put out South Point Chevrolet on top of the board."
Gaughan, who has always been a fan of the Tennessee short track, said he liked the changes to the track adding that fans might see some legitimate two-groove racing at the tight Bristol track later this summer. However, Gaughan was no fan of the Goodyear tire his team tested.
"This was absolutely one of the five hardest tires I think in the history of racing. It made it very difficult,” Gaughan said. “Talking to most drivers, everybody was complaining tight, no front grip, a little loose into turn three - things that are very typical of a hard tire with no grip. To me, that's kind of what we fought all day - that little loose into three, that no front grip tight. We're going to come back here hopefully with a softer Goodyear tire with a little more grip. But the race track itself is every bit as good as the old one. I didn't think anything was wrong with the old one, but I don't think there is going to be anything wrong with this one either.
“The cool thing is that there might be a second groove here now. A place where you will be able to pass or get out of the way. I don’t know if you would want to race side-by-side in it all day, but I think you will have the option for some two-wide racing.”
Gaughan expects his team will come back even better when the trucks return to Bristol on August 21 for a one day test session before the race on Wednesday, Aug. 22.
"I definitely think a little bit of massaging from the boys at the shop - having Bryan sit down with John McQueen (Chevrolet engineer), having the brain trust get together and discuss what happened. I think they'll find something that will make us better. We will come back just that little bit quicker, and that's all we need."