Brendan Gaughan Pre-Race Report - Atlanta

by Mike Snow - Orleans Racing

Driver: Brendan Gaughan
Owner: Michael Gaughan
Event: World Financial Group 200
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Friday, March 18, 2005 – 9 p.m. (EST)
Qualifying: Friday, March 18, 2005 – 5:10 p.m. (EST)
1.54-mile oval, 200 miles/130 laps

Notes of Interest:

After a required rehab following the Daytona event Brendan’s favorite truck, Lonestar returns to action at Atlanta this week. The truck needed a new nose along with other sheetmetal work, but the frame and front clip were undamaged in the Daytona incident. The truck has been deemed “better than new” by crew chief, Billy Wilburn.

Although the Craftsman Truck Series had an off-week last week driver Brendan Gaughan did not have much time to rest. Brendan, a Las Vegas resident, spent most of his time last weekend entertaining guests who were in town for the March 13th Nextel Cup event, which ran at the nearby Las Vegas Motor Speedway. That included an estimated 600 to 700 loyal fans that attended Orleans Racing’s first annual Orleans Racing open house on March 11th.

“It blew my mind,” said Gaughan on the turnout for the Orleans Racing open house. “I knew that we’d get a good turn out, but what happened here last Friday was just magic.

“We signed some autographs and met a lot of great people from all over the county right at our shop,” Gaughan added. “I know that Steve (Park) and I were a little bit humbled that so many folks showed up --- especially since our open house was up against Cup qualifying. But what can I say --- Orleans Racing has the best fans in NASCAR.”

Gaughan on Atlanta:

ATLANTA IS A BIG, WIDE, FAST TRACK. IS IT FUN TO RACE? – “These are tracks that I like to race on a lot. I’m a big fan of the big, fast speedways. California Speedway – I’ve always been great there – Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the four wins at Texas. And Texas and Atlanta are extremely similar. In the Cup car last year we didn’t have great runs at Atlanta but man, I had a lot of fun going up in the high groove and holding onto it.

“I do like the big, fast places. I think the Orleans team is really good on big, fast places. That’s where Steve Park had his best finishes in ’04 and he won California. That’s a big, wide, sweeping track. I’d say those are tracks that the Orleans Racing team is very good at. Me and Billy Wilburn have been focusing a lot on these big, fast places because one, there are so many of them and two, we both feel that’s a very big component of my racing style.”

YOU LIKE TO RIDE THAT OUTSIDE RAIL QUITE A BIT. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT A LITTLE BIT? – “I almost forgot about it. At California I started going on the bottom and we knew that the American Racing Dodge (at California) had some body issues. We didn’t like what we had done to it and it wasn’t a very fast race car. So the Orleans guys tore the heck out of that thing. I mean tore it apart and did everything humanly possible to get as much drag out of it and make it a good racecar. But the thing in the race that I kept doing was I would go to pass people and I would go to the bottom and I’d pinch the truck down and it would starve the motor. It made it to where four guys would pass me and I was going by two people. So during the middle of the race I told Wilburn, ‘Screw this bottom, I’m going back to my old groove.’ And I went four-wide on the outside of (Turn) 2 past Jimmy Spencer and three other guys and I came on the radio and said, ‘Now that’s the Craftsman Truck Series I love!’ I do miss that high groove. All your air is up there. You don’t pinch the truck down. With this new gear rule NASCAR came up with, Jasper Engine does all our gears and transmissions and you want to keep those things spinning. We spend a lot of money and a lot of effort on making those things very friction-free and don’t kill yourself going into the corner by pinching on it. Let it go high. Let the thing run. Let it have it’s room and up high everybody’s afraid to go there so you have all the room in the world.”

Note: Gaughan is a keen observer of the annual event known as “March Madness”, a term used to describe the NCAA basketball playoff rounds. Driving the passion is Gaughan’s time spent playing under Georgetown University’s Coach John Thompson on the Hoyas basketball team. Gaughan was on the squad during visits to the Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight.

WILL YOU BE KEEPING AN EYE ON MARCH MADNESS THIS WEEK. – I pay very close attention to March Madness. It was such a big part of my life and not just in college. In Las Vegas growing up with my family and the sports books, March Madness has always been a part of our lives.”

IS THERE A DIFFERENT MENTAL PHILOSOPHY BETWEEN PLAYING BASKETBALL AND RACING? YOUR TEAM MADE IT INTO THE FINAL 8, RIGHT? – “Yeah. Competition is ‘just get after it’ but I’ll tell you what, you see some amazing things when that pressure level rises and you know it’s one and done and you’ve won that first game and you hit the buzzer beater to win the second game and then you blow out the third game. You get to that fourth game and it’s the final eight. The next game is the Final Four and you do feel that pressure. Everybody that’s playing at that level – anybody that says they didn’t is lying. You go man, this is the NCAA Tournament. There isn’t arguably anything bigger. The Super Bowl is big. The Daytona 500 is big. But the NCAA Tournament and the Final Four is huge. Yeah, you do feel pressure. You do change a little bit but you have to learn how to control it. You have to learn how to keep that ability inside you and say, yes live in that moment but play in the moment and do what you’re supposed to do, what you’ve been practicing to do. Sort of like the Daytona 500. You go to start your first Daytona 500 and say hey, it’s just Daytona. It’s still the same 43 guys I’ve raced with the last five years. It’s just Daytona. It’s just another track even though it’s the Daytona 500.”

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