Brendan Gaughan Post-Race Report - Nashville
Brendan Gaughan and the Orleans Racing team handled everything Nashville Superspeedway threw at them during Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series event and raced away with a well-deserved fifth place finish.
An unresolved problem with the team’s radio plagued Gaughan and his pit crew throughout the race but they were able to persevere despite the limited communication and remained in contention right up to the green/white/checker finish.
Prior to the race there was nothing wrong with team communication as the crew unloaded T-15 and made a good Dodge great with all the right adjustments during a pair of practice sessions. Expectations for a great weekend grew even higher after Gaughan turned in a 14th place qualifying effort.
Gaughan struggled with the handling in the opening laps of the race but an early caution on Lap 21 allowed him to hit pit road for assistance from his crew. A spring rubber did little to help the handling so Gaughan hit pit road a second time under caution on Lap 35.
The No. 77 South Coast Dodge remained on pit road longer than intended when a rear spring fell out of the pocket as the jack went up. Thanks to quick thinking and work by the crew Gaughan remained on the lead lap and rejoined the field 31st in the running order.
With just 40 laps in the books and 110 to go, Gaughan had plenty of time to make up the track position lost and he didn’t waste any of it. Four laps after the restart showed Gaughan in 26th and by Lap 76 he was running 15th.
Crew Chief Rambo Liberati opted not to pit during the fifth caution on Lap 77 but when a crash slowed the field with just under 60 laps to go, fuel consumption became an issue and Gaughan hit pit road for the final time.
With four fresh tires for good measure, Gaughan began yet another assault on the field and when a crash set up a green/white/checker finish he was running comfortably in sixth place. The final restart sparked fireworks at the front of the pack between Todd Bodine and Mike Skinner and when they wrecked each other out Gaughan had a fleeting glimpse of his shot to steal the victory.
Instead, Skinner’s truck came down the track right into the path of the South Coast Dodge and Gaughan lost the momentum he needed to get to the front when he stomped on the brakes to avoid contact.
In four starts at Nashville Superspeedway Orleans Racing has never finished outside the top six; as an added bonus Gaughan gained one position in the point standings to take over the 13th spot.
“The Orleans Racing team doesn’t really know what it feels like to run up front all day,” said Gaughan with a chuckle. “That would just be way too nice of a day for us. It was great teamwork today. That’s what this day was all about.
“Rambo made great adjustments and great calls on pit road. Danny Goad, our rear tire changer caught a spring out of the pocket in the middle of a standard pit stop. Just to see that is phenomenal. Our new guy on the over the wall gang, Robert Ewing, was just awesome. On that stop when the spring was out of the pocket, he finished his job on the fronts and our jackman Calvin (Gravely) had the presence of mind to wait and Robert not only removed his five lug nuts but also the five lug nuts on the back tire while Danny dealt with the spring. It was a just a great, great job by the guys and great teamwork.”
“I make my gravy up in the high groove,” said Gaughan as he recalled the closing laps. “At Kentucky I tried to go to the bottom and it cost me a spot, so I’m not doing it again. I went to the high groove in Turns 1 and 2 and unfortunately that’s where the wreck was happening. It cost a few spots but you can’t do it over again. I had to go with the line that got me there and that’s the high groove. Everybody started banging on each other and we missed everything, which was a good thing.
“Then we got passed by a couple people,” Gaughan added. “I just hauled the mail into Turn 3 and got one more spot. We had to get a top five and we did it. That’s what this business is about – top fives every week. We’re going to win some races and we’re going to get into the top 10 in points.”
With a smile on his face Gaughan added, “There’s not a scratch on the truck so the fab shop is going to love me for a change.”