Brendan Gaughan Post-Race Report - Vegas
The Smith’s Las Vegas 250 may have been a home game for Brendan Gaughan but Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s recent reconfiguration all but erased any hope he may have had for a home field advantage.
The week leading up to Saturday night’s race was a busy one for Gaughan who fulfilled numerous media obligations, greeted fans during the annual Open House at the team’s race shop and hosted a charity poker tournament to benefit the local chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities.
By the time Friday rolled around Gaughan was ready to strap into the No. 77 South Point Dodge and get down to business. After a full day of optional testing two things became clear. Tire wear on the new track surface was a non-issue and Gaughan’s preferred high groove was a treacherous place to race.
On race day the team used the two brief practice sessions to scuff tires and fine tune on their truck and when it came time to qualify for the 146 lap event Gaughan turned in a lap good enough to start 23rd on the grid.
Various pit strategies constantly reshuffled the running order throughout the race but crew chief Rambo Liberati stuck with his own plan and called for the final pit stop of the evening during the fifth caution of the race when most of the leaders stayed out. With half the race to go, the leaders should have had to make one more pit stop but an extended caution between from Lap 107 to Lap 116 allowed them to stretch their fuel mileage to the end of the race.
Mired in traffic, Gaughan stormed back up through the field and was scored in 15th when he ran out of time and the checkers flew.
“It wasn’t a bad night,” Gaughan admitted. “Especially when you think back to the disappointment of last year when we finished 35th. We ran up front for awhile and had great pit strategy. I was really, really impressed with the pit stops by the boys tonight. We had a strategy but it just didn’t play out. It was almost right in our hands and then that long caution really cost us our strategy and we just had to race for it.
“Our Dodge was just al little bit too tight, so they kept hurting us in Turns 3 and 4. But we were really good in Turns 1 and 2 and we were able to keep our nose up and clean. We’ll take it. We brought the truck home in one piece and we know what aero things we need to fix for Texas and places like that. We’ll fix it and try to get it even better still.
“I’m going to go home and I’m not going to wake up until three o’clock tomorrow afternoon. As much as I love racing in Vegas by the time the race is over I’m really glad that it’s only once a year.”