Gaughan Notches 11th-Place Finish After Escaping Martinsville Melee
Brendan Gaughan narrowly avoided two major wrecks in the final seven laps of the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday afternoon, which helped him from 28th-place to 11th-place by the time the checkered flag waved.
On a day where Gaughan could not get a good feel for his ill-handling race truck, an 11th-place finish was more than he could have hoped for.
“I always say that I hate Martinsville , but I’m not as bad as I say I am here,” Gaughan said. “This time though, we let ourselves down. We knew we had good short track stuff, but when you miss all of practice – you’ve got no chance.
“We found what we thought was wrong at the end of practice. We qualified and it still wasn’t great. But this is a team that just doesn’t give up. That’s the one reason that I think Chevrolet wanted us because this team doesn’t quit. Bryan ( Berry ) came in and popped the hood at one point and did some major adjustments.
“In the end, maybe if we would have had a green-white-checker then we could have brought our Chevy home top five. But we’ll take what we got.”
Gaughan struggled with a truck that wouldn’t turn in the corners throughout most of the 200-lap event at Martinsville , which caused him to run around 25th-place all day.
With just 42 laps remaining in the event, the team elected to try what crew chief Bryan Berry called a “science project” on pit road under caution. The team elected to pit for a series of adjustments that they hoped would help Gaughan on the track and give them information for future use.
Gaughan would restart in 30th. But it was that pit stop and a second stop just laps later that helped Gaughan avoid some of the upcoming wrecks in the closing laps of the race.
“Billy Holbrook did a great job of saving my butt today,” Gaughan said. “Our Chevrolet struggled today – but that’s the thing with this race team, they never quit. They always work hard and Bryan keeps trying things. He called it a science project at one point. After that stop, I went back out on the track and let the 1 truck go because he was faster. Right when I let him go, Billy screamed ‘Big one on the front straightaway. Big one, big one, big one.’ And finally Billy just said ‘Stop.’ I was the only truck stopped behind the whole thing, and that was with seven laps to go.”
Following that wreck, Gaughan moved from 28th to 18th-place. The race was restarted and a second large wreck happened in front of Gaughan on the final lap of the race.
“On the white flag, Billy started screaming again ‘Big one in turn four – it’s up high, go low.’ Then he said, ‘It’s low go high,’” Gaughan said recalling the radio transmission. “I just had to drive into the dust and smoke – I saw a guy low and I moved up a lane and there was Travis Kvapil blocking the whole track. I thought I was screwed that I was going to get hit from behind, and all of a sudden Travis hit reverse, backed up and made me a hole – and by the grace of God I drove right through it.
“We got an 11th place finish, and we’ll take it. It might be my best Martinsville finish with my worst Martinsville truck. I’ll take it. It ended up being a good points day and thank you to my boys for never giving up on it. We just keep on charging. Atlanta is one of my tracks – we’ll be back.”