Gaughan Runner-Up At Texas
Brendan Gaughan came up just shy of capturing his fifth NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night.
Restarting in fourth-place for the race’s green-white-checker finish, Gaughan initially spun his tires and then darted to the high side of the race track in an effort to get by the three trucks in front of him in the closing laps of the race. But before Gaughan had a legitimate shot to pass the three race trucks, the leaders collided and the caution flag waved, freezing the field and ending the race with Ted Musgrave being crowned the winner and Gaughan finishing in second-place.
It was Gaughan’s second runner-up finish this year – the other coming at Bristol Motor Speedway in August.
“I am just bummed, because I had number five (NCTS win),” Gaughan said. “First thing I asked was if it was a green-white-checkered when I saw the caution or did we go green with three laps to go. If you go green with three laps to go, there is still a green-white-checkered. I was kind of hoping there was one more green white checkered in there because Ted (Musgrave) had some damage and I think I had something for him.”
Texas Motor Speedway has been a second home for Gaughan and his South Point Racing team, however before Friday night’s Silverado 350 race, the last top-five finish Gaughan had had at the 1.5-mile track had been 2003. That stat gave Gaughan and his team a little extra incentive.
With the best truck from the South Point Racing stable underneath Gaughan, the team qualified in the 14th spot. In the early stages of the race, Gaughan complained of being tight through the center and exit of the corners, but the No. 77 South Point Chevrolet Silverado had moved into ninth-place when the caution flag waved at Lap 38.
Gaughan brought his truck to the attention of his pit crew for an air pressure adjustment and a wedge adjustment to help the tight condition. The crew also changed four tires and fuel. Gaughan returned to the track in 13th-place.
Gaughan didn’t waste time making up the lost spots on pit road.
“I messed up when I pulled into the pit and had my front wheel turned to the left a little bit so I messed up Harley (Rauch),” Gaughan said. “I messed up, and I needed to make it up to them on the race track.”
In just five laps, Gaughan had moved back into the top 10. Gaughan told his crew that the tight handling condition wasn’t bad any more, but his truck was starting to get loose as the race went on. By Lap 68 when the caution flag waved, Gaughan told his crew that he didn’t have any rear grip.
The team pitted for four tires, fuel, another air pressure adjustment and a right rear shock adjustment. Gaughan returned to the track in 14th-place.
In less than 10 laps, Gaughan once again had broken into the top 10. By Lap 105, Gaughan was sitting in fifth-place as green flag pit stops began.
At Lap 129, Gaughan gave up his second-place spot to come down pit road for right side tires and fuel. After a solid pit stop by his crew, Gaughan returned to the track in 12th-place and was ready to battle for a win.
By Lap 143, Gaughan had moved into the seventh spot on the track. While Gaughan was battling for a spot in the top five on Lap 144, the leaders were wrecking in front of him. As Mike Skinner began spinning, Gaughan elected to drive through the smoke on the high side of the track – avoiding any damage.
“It was exciting, I joked on the radio to my crew guys, that was my Georgetown degree that worked there, Isaac Newton. It looked like it worked to me,” Gaughan said. “It was banking, Skinner was up high, I figured he'd fall. I closed my eyes and went through the smoke.
“You know with certain things are going to happen and guys like Ron (Hornaday) and Mike are going to drive all the way through a wreck. They aren't going to hit the brakes and wreck. I was already up on the high side, I saw them both go down, what I expected, which was what I would have done, was grab third gear, hit the gas and make sure I don't hit the wall. That seemed like what Mike did, he drove right off away from the wall. The smoke was there and I just barely missed him. Came right through it and cleared daylight.
“I have been getting pretty good at that lately, getting lucky and missing some of these wrecks. I'll claim skill, but in reality when you close your eyes, things happen.”
A 19-minute red flag followed the wreck, which setup a green-white-checkered finish. Gaughan would restart fourth behind Chad McCumbee, Jack Sprague and Musgrave.
“I really felt like I had the truck to beat at that point,” Gaughan said. “I felt like I could pass them all on the restart.”
But Gaughan wouldn’t get a shot to reclaim his position in Texas ’ victory lane. In turn one on the green flag lap, McCumbee and Sprague wrecked bringing out the caution flag and freezing the field for the final lap of the race.
“I wanted to win this race for Chevrolet so badly tonight,” Gaughan said. “We had probably one of the strongest trucks. During the race, were a little tight, then a little loose, then a little tight. I love Bryan Berry (crew chief) to death, I have bragged about him all year; he does a great job, never quits on me. It was great to be back where we are supposed to be, with all the distractions we have had going on, just really glad I was able to show that you can do it from the West coast, we were up there, we earned it, we didn't get it from the wrecks, but we earned it.
“We’re bringing this truck back to Homestead . We finished second there last year – we don’t want to be a runner-up again.”