MARTINSVILLE, Va (April 7, 2004) – Brendan Gaughan’s greatest successes have come on superspeedways, but Wednesday afternoon, he was having a pretty good time at Martinsville Speedway.
“I’ve always had the reputation of hating short tracks … and it’s not that I didn’t like the tracks … I just didn’t do well on short tracks,” Gaughan said Wednesday during a testing session at Martinsville. “After today, maybe I like Martinsville a lot. We’ve made a lot of gains here today.”
Gaughan and seven other drivers were testing Wednesday in preparation for the April 18th running of the Advance Auto Parts 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Martinsville.
Gaughan has three starts at Martinsville in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, but had never fared especially well. His best finish, a ninth, came in his first Martinsville start in the spring of 2002. He was 16th last spring and 11th in the fall.
But despite only one top-10 career finish at the historic Virginia track, he was feeling pretty good about the difficult half-mile layout Wednesday afternoon.
“We’ve made a lot of gains today. We learned a lot about the braking system today,” said Gaughan, a Penske Racing teammate to Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman. Newman also tested at the track Wednesday.
“It was some data from a teammate that really helped me today. Man, I can’t say enough about what it means to be a member of this Penske team.”
Gaughan has been tutored this season by legendary driver Buddy Baker, and although Baker didn’t make the trip Wednesday, he still had an impact.
“I’ve been telling Buddy the past two weeks how much I didn’t like short tracks and he’s been growling back at me. He’s been telling me ‘I’m gonna make you love Martinsville’.”
That certainly seemed to be the case Wednesday.
“You know, I’ve had the moniker of hating short tracks, but Martinsville is one track that I like in the respect that you have to drive the heck out of it,” said Gaughan. “You can’t be aero dependent and just let it go at Martinsville. You have to drive the car and drive it hard. It’s a unique place.
“And as a fan I just look at Martinsville and everything they’ve done. I look at the grandstands and the suites and they’re always full. What’s not to like about the place.”
Gaughan was joined by a nearly full garage of competitors Wednesday, the final day of testing before the April 18th Advance Auto Parts 500. Other NEXTEL Cup drivers testing were Brian Vickers, Jimmy Spencer, Newman, Ricky Craven, Jeff Green, Johnny Sauter and Ward Burton.
Great seats are still available for the Advance Auto Parts 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race for $40 to $72 each. To purchase tickets call the speedway ticket office toll free at 877-722-3849 or order online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.