POP SECRET 500
SEPTEMBER 5, 2004
Fontana, Calif. (Sept. 5, 2004) - The Pop Secret 500 proved to be a disappointment to the No. 77 Kodak Racing team as it turned in a 42nd-place finish at California Speedway after an early exit. Once again, Brendan Gaughan was in the wrong place at the wrong time, resulting in the poor finish.
Gaughan started from the 22nd position and steadily worked his way forward. Several laps into the race, Crew chief Shane Wilson asked Gaughan for a report on the car's handling. Gaughan said the car was a little to the tight side
in the center and off the turns.
During the first caution period, which occurred for debris and was declared a quickie yellow by NASCAR, Wilson told Gaughan to come to pit road for
service. The plan was to deliver four tires and fuel along with track bar and wedge adjustments to free up the car. Following the cars in front of him, Gaughan came down pit road the first time by after taking the yellow flag. He pitted along with Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart. Unfortunately, all of the aforementioned teams were penalized and moved to the tail end of the lead lap for pitting too soon.
Despite arguments from the teams receiving the penalty, stating that it has always been first time by for a quickie yellow, NASCAR officials stood by their judgment and declared the pits to have been closed.
Gaughan was now relegated from the 16th position to the 29th position for the restart, which proved to be his downfall. As Gaughan attempted to move back toward the front of the pack, he became tangled up in what would have been a single-car accident, had the other competitor maintained his machine.
J.J. Yeley lost control of his car after hitting the wall in turn three. He first moved low clearing the high line and Gaughan moved up to take advantage of the hole. Yeley then moved back up into the path of the oncoming No. 77 Dodge, crippling Gaughan's efforts for the day.
Gaughan took his obligatory ride to the infield care center where he was released, free of injury. He met with the press briefly to answer questions and said, "It all comes down to a driver who doesn't know how to control his car. When I started racing I was told early on if you hit the wall, try to keep it there. If you can't, then get low and keep it out of the way. I guess some drivers didn't learn that."