Gaughan Scores Best Finish of Year With Runner-Up Run at Bristol
Brendan Gaughan was already celebrating his newlywed status when he arrived at Bristol Motor Speedway for the O’Reilly 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. And when the checkered flag dropped on Wednesday night, Gaughan and his South Point Racing team came up just one spot shy of celebrating in victory lane.
The second-place run was a season best for Gaughan and his South Point team.
“We all wanted this race so badly,” Gaughan said. “Having just gotten married, it probably would have been a double-edged sword – they never would have let me live it down if I won my first race in a while right after getting married – but man, we wanted to win this thing.
“We had a heck of a Chevrolet tonight, but in the end, I my truck just wasn’t handling the way I needed it to so that I could get at Johnny (Benson). I was trying everything I could on the race track to catch him, and then in the last two laps, I had to focus on blocking one of the best NASCAR drivers ever – Mark Martin – so that we could finish second.
“We wanted this win, but we’ll take second-place and the good points night. Hopefully, this is the sign of good things to come.”
Gaughan, who qualified on the outside pole at Bristol earlier in the day, never fell out of the top five. After racing the first lap in a fender-to-fender duel with pole sitter Travis Kvapil, Gaughan fell back in line in second spot. But at lap 17, he passed Kvapil with ease in turn one.
Gaughan led the next 24 laps, until he pitted at Lap 42 under caution. Gaughan, who said he found a high groove that was working to his liking, told his South Point crew that he wasn’t pushing it at all out on the race track. The truck was a little too tight in turns one and two, but it seemed to be fine in three and four.
The team pitted for two right side tires and fuel, and sent Gaughan back on the race track in fifth spot – behind three trucks that didn’t pit and one truck that took fuel only. It would be the only pit stop of the night for the South Point Racing team.
Back under the green flag, Gaughan wasted no time moving back into the second spot behind leader Johnny Benson.
During a flurry of cautions, Gaughan told his crew that his South Point Chevrolet was better on longer runs. The truck would start off too free and then get tight for a couple of laps before settling down on the race track. The short runs and handling problems caused Gaughan to drop to the fourth spot by Lap 170.
Although Gaughan told his crew chief that he didn’t know if he had anything for the leaders in front of him, he promised that he was going to do everything he could to get back to the front. And that’s when the excitement began.
At Lap 180, Kvapil and Kyle Busch were battling for the lead when they touched and spun each other out. The spin happened immediately in front of Gaughan, who drove through the smoke on the high side of turn one – narrowly missing the spinning race trucks.
Gaughan would restart the race at Lap 184 in second spot. With just 16 laps to go, Gaughan tried to go high and low to catch leader Benson, but in the end, he couldn’t reach him.
Gaughan finished second – moving up to 12th in driver’s points and 14th in owner’s points.
“I tell you what, this is one hell of a Bristol ,” Gaughan said after the race. “Bruton Smith should be dang proud of this place. If we had had some tires that would give us a little bit better grip, you would see even more two-by-two racing. On the first start, I called my crew chief when the first caution came out and said ‘Can you believe that?’ I have never seen anyone do side-by-side for the lead on the first lap at Bristol – that was pretty awesome. This place is magnificent.
“I ran all the way up to the wall. I saw Kyle Busch do it and thought maybe it was going to work and ran my way up to the wall. It worked, I couldn't believe it. So I tried to give Johnny a bonsai for the win in the end.
“My boys just built me one helluva Chevrolet and I love them to death. That is why I keep beating on this testing policy, because, man, every time this team gets to test, we end up doing fantastic and that is the difference. We got to test our Chevrolet and we came back and did fantastic. It has definitely been a hectic week with the final planning then the wedding and then trying to get ready to come to the race track at the same time. But it has been a great week. And I hope there are more to come.”