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Lowes Post-Race Report

MAY 30, 2004

NO. 77 TIME/SPEED – 29.026 Seconds/186.040 MPH
POLE POSITION – Jimmie Johnson
POLE TIME/SPEED – 28.869 Seconds/187.052 MPH
RACE WINNER – Jimmie Johnson (Started 1st)
NO. 77 DRIVER POINTS – 28th – (-678 behind leader)
NO. 77 OWNER POINTS – 28th

It was an up-and-down weekend for Brendan Gaughan and the No. 77 Kodak Racing team at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. After qualifying in the seventh position for the Coca-Cola 600, Gaughan was looking forward to running the season's longest race in NASCAR's NEXTEL Cup Series.

His hopes were seemingly dashed after a crash during “Happy Hour” required the team to pull out its back-up car. As the Kodak Racing team thrashed on the secondary car to make it race-ready, members from the ALLTEL Racing team assisted in stripping vital parts, such as springs and shocks, from the damaged primary to transfer to the new machine. After adjustments were made, Gaughan returned to the final practice.

Comfortable in his new race machine and despite the limited number of laps, Gaughan told his crew chief, Shane Wilson, the back-up car almost felt better. Despite its set-back, the team remained in high spirits and completed final preparations for the race.

Gaughan climbed into the No. 77 Kodak EasyShare Dodge knowing he had an advantage on the rest of the field. Since Gaughan was relegated to the rear of the field for going to his back-up machine, he would start the race with a new Penske-Jasper engine under the hood where all other competitors would start with the same engine they had practiced and qualified with.

Prior to the field taking the green flag, for the only race which starts in daylight and ends under the lights, Gaughan dropped to the back of the lineup. On lap three of the 400-lap event, Gaughan asked Wilson if the air pressures had been changed from the practice session and Wilson confirmed. Gaughan told Wilson the car’s handling was loose and it was Gaughan’s spotter, Bill Wilburn, who responded, “The track has been sitting there since yesterday under the sun. It will feel a little oily, you just have to hang on to it and it will come to you.”

By lap seven, Gaughan said the car was loose and becoming increasingly worse. Under the handling conditions, Gaughan was not able to get on the throttle as quickly as he would have liked. Wilson instructed Gaughan to turn the right front blower off. With the long straights, blowers are used to protect the outside of the tire to keep it from blistering due to the camber, or the angle at which the tire makes contact with the track's surface.

Wilson’s thought was to allow the tire to heat more evenly to hopefully, get more grip and allow Gaughan the throttle power he hoped for.

Over the course of the race, the team made several stops to make necessary adjustments to the car's handling. From track bar adjustments, adding rubbers in the left rear as well as the right front, opening the front shock’s bleed level to allow for more rebound and moving the rear-end forward, Wilson tried everything possible, but to no avail.

Gaughan completed the Coca-Cola 600 eight laps down and in the 33rd position.

The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams will return to action next weekend at the “Monster Mile” in Dover, Del.

No. 2 Rusty Wallace
Start – 16th Finish – 10th
Driver Points – 13th Owner Points – 13th

No. 12 Ryan Newman
Start – Finish – 35th
Driver Points – 9th Owner Points – 9th

No. 77 Brendan Gaughan
Start – 7th Finish –33rd
Driver Points – 28th Owner Points – 28th

from Jasper

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