Brendan Gaughan Post-Race Report - Martinsville
The Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway gave Brendan Gaughan a chance to show off his short track skills and he took full advantage of the opportunity with a season best sixth place finish.
And for a guy that says he prefers to race on the superspeedways, Gaughan more than held his own as he charged from 32nd on the starting grid to beat his previous personal best Martinsville finish by three spots.
Gaughan’s journey to the top 10 was fraught with peril but he successfully guided the No. 77 Orleans Dodge around the tricky track and avoided the numerous altercations that brought the yellow flag out a record 16 times.
All those cautions kept the crew chiefs busy as they figured pit strategy but Rambo Liberati chose to keep it simple. After a quick stop during the first caution to adjust the handling, Gaughan made his only other stop for fuel and tires under caution at about the 100-lap mark and rode it out from there.
Once he had scratched and clawed his way into the top 10, Gaughan suffered through a few anxious moments when he got shoved out of the groove and lost a handful of positions trying to get back in line with 78 laps to go. He found his rhythm when he got there, however, and was easily able to make up the ground he lost by the time the checkers flew.
Gaughan improved on his starting spot by 26 positions and extended his Craftsman Truck Series record at Martinsville by completing every lap of the five races he’s run there. He also made tremendous strides in the point standings for the second race in a row with a leap from 21st to 16th.
“This is the first time I’ve ever finished Martinsville with the truck in one piece,” Gaughan said after the 250-lap event. “I’ve had good runs here. We’ve been near the front but never have I come out of here with a truck in one piece. My left side tires got the Goodyear rubbed off of them because I was actually on the curb. I don’t know who was driving this thing today because it definitely wasn’t me because I normally don’t know what the curb looks like.
“I followed my hero Dennis Setzer on a short track,” Gaughan confessed. “I sat behind him and learned so much from him. I love racing on a short track near Dennis Setzer. He’s so good at these places.”
Knowing that racing at any level is a true team sport Gaughan then turned his attention to his Orleans Racing Crew.
“It was the team – everybody from the fab shop, the suspension shop, the setup guys – everybody on this race team put this truck together beautifully,” Gaughan offered on the ever strengthening Las Vegas based team. “We came with a strategy. Rambo said we were going to stop once and next time I see him it was going to be ‘meet me in St. Louis.’ Technically we stopped twice, once early to make an adjustment. On the second stop we made one small minor adjustment and took four tires. After that he said, ‘We’re eating ice cream. Don’t come in for anything else.’ It was a great strategy and it worked.”
Gaughan then reflected back to Orleans Racing’s best year --- 2003, when the Orleans Racing Dodge nearly clinched the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title and said, “We never did this well at Martinsville that year so I have to believe this is a sign of improved performance.”
Now chuckling Gaughan added, “I got my best ever finish at Martinsville. Who would have thunk it?”