Gaughan Stays Out of Trouble, Gets 16th-Place At Talladega
For Brendan Gaughan and the South Point Racing team, the 16th-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway wasn’t what they had hoped for.
Despite qualifying 31st on Friday for the second running of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at the 2.66-mile Alabama track, Gaughan was confident that his team had a Chevrolet Silverado that would be at the front of the pack with a little drafting help and a little luck.
And like typical Talladega, Gaughan’s No. 77 South Point Silverado was shuffled from the back to the top 10 throughout the afternoon.
With two laps remaining, Gaughan restarted in seventh spot. However, Gaughan was shuffled out of the tight draft of trucks and slid back in the pack. He was sitting in 16th spot when the checkered flag waved.
“Kyle Busch passed me below the line; cost me a chance at a top-10,” Gaughan said. “I am a full-time Chevrolet driver and he is a going-somewhere-else driver. It just really pissed me off there at the end. We had a chance for a top-10 finish and maybe a top-five and Kyle Busch cost us that, which in turn cost us a good points day.”
Gaughan’s day was nothing short of eventful at Talladega.
He said his truck was stable as he worked his way through the draft and to the front of the field. At Lap 16, he pitted under caution for right side tires and fuel.
Over the course of a long green flag run, Gaughan made his move through traffic, deeming the middle lane the quickest on the race track. However, when his oil and water temperatures rose, Gaughan backed out of the draft to help the temperature go down.
A Lap 54 caution waved at just the right time for Gaughan, as he was going to need to come in for fuel. He barely made it to pit road before running out of gas. The pit crew added fuel and taped down the hood of the No. 77 Chevrolet, which had been bouncing around. The crew also pulled tape off the front of the truck’s grill to help ease the temperature issues.
Under the long caution flag, the team opted to come in a second time for four fresh tires, which turned out to be a key moment for the team as one tire had been cut down and was rapidly losing air pressure. Gaughan restarted at Lap 60 in 13th spot.
At Lap 75, Gaughan narrowly avoided a big wreck that claimed six trucks. Gaughan went through the middle of the wreck, which happened in front of him, sustaining only slight damage to the left headlight area of the race truck.
Gaughan restarted in 11th spot and was ready to make his move. A caution at Lap 91 stopped Gaughan’s progress at seventh spot, which is where he restarted for the closing laps of the race.
In the end, although Gaughan had been making forward progress on the race track, he was left without help and forced backwards.
“We just happened to get lucky at Talladega today even though we got hung out to dry at the end of the race,” Gaughan said. “My spotters did an unbelievable job today. We have a hole in the grill from missing stuff all day. I found out that Mark Smith motors will run up to 280 degrees, I didn't want to tell him on the radio but it made it to the end.
“It was just typical Talladega.”