To Brendan Gaughan, racing at Martinsville Speedway is nothing more than a necessary evil to contend with on the Craftsman Truck Series circuit; and after a rough couple days at the tiny track in Virginia he’s more than happy to close the books on short track racing in 2005.
Just moments before the end of the first and only practice session on Friday morning, Gaughan’s primary No. 77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Dodge broke loose and hit the outside wall between Turns 1 and 2. With no track time in the backup before qualifying Gaughan posted the 35th fastest lap in the session, which meant starting at the back on a track where it is notoriously difficult to pass.
Gaughan spent most of the 200-lap race bouncing up and down in the running order while crew chief Tony “Rambo” Liberati worked his magic with pit strategy. With 21 laps to go Gaughan was running 16th with his eyes on a possible top 10 finish.
Three laps later, however, his top-10 hopes were dashed for good when his brake pedal went soft in Turn 2 and a collision with Deborah Renshaw’s Dodge brought out the ninth and final caution flag of the race.
Gaughan managed to stay on the lead lap but with so few laps remaining all he could salvage was a 24th place finish.
“It was a typical Martinsville day for me,” Gaughan said laughing and shaking his head following the Kroger 200. “It’s not a bad race track – don’t get me wrong. I just suck here.
“We started in the back and the guys started working on it right away,” Gaughan said with seriousness. “Rambo had about four different pit strategies and we ran through all four of them. We had ourselves a decent little spot going at the end. Somehow we got ourselves into the top-15 and were going for one more but it didn’t work out.”
Concluding his weekend Gaughan said, “For me? Typical Martinsville – We wrecked our primary truck in practice. Our backup, truck No. 6, one of our favorite trucks, we didn’t do too much damage to it. We’ll take it back to the shop, put a body on it, and probably run it at Phoenix.”