Brendan Gaughan's resurgence coming at a good time
For Brendan Gaughan (No. 77 Orleans Dodge) 2003 was a banner year - six wins and a fourth-place finish in championship standings (he finished 40 points behind champion Travis Kvapil) after leading the point standings for much of the second-half of the season – but it was also a trying year.
Leading the points heading into the final race of the season, Gaughan was poised to win his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title. A mid-race incident dashed those title hopes.
Fast forward to this season where Gaughan has mostly struggled. After his Orleans Racing team decided to scale back to a one truck team this year, Gaughan has been the top finishing Dodge in several races, but that hasn’t always meant a top-10 finish.
By Gaughan’s own admission, trying to regain his near-championship form has been tough.
“It is frustrating, but at the same time it’s what you [race] for,” said Gaughan, whose team owner is his father Michael. “It came easy for a few years. What we’ve gone through in 2005 and 2006 makes you remember why you did it. I’ve learned to better appreciate when times are good.”
The credit for Orleans Racing’s turnaround has been attributed to team chemistry. Gaughan and crew chief Tony “Rambo” Liberati made some changes after last season and the team has started to click.
“We’ve been together longer,” said Gaughan. “The guys are working very well in the shop. All the deals coming together have really led to the, minor turnaround that we’ve had.”
As the series goes into a two-week break, the Orleans team has a different idea.
“Our plans are there is no break,” said Gaughan. “We’ve got a test at Chicagoland with Dodge. What we do is racing. We don’t have time for a break right now.
“We thought we’d give the boys time to go to Mexico to play for awhile, but we don’t have time because we’re working too hard.”
After back-to-back top-five finishes at Kansas and Kentucky, Gaughan is proving he’s not ready to back down.
“I definitely think we have a shot at finishing in the top 10,” said Gaughan, currently 14th in points. “Ron Hornaday (No. 33 KHI Chevrolet) was behind us six weeks ago and now he’s sixth. It’s just going to take solid, consistent top-10 and top-five runs.
“Once you run top in the five every week and you’re consistently there, you battle for wins. And we will win this year.”