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Gaughan Secures Sixth Top-10 Qualifying Position Of Rookie Season

No. 77 Jasper Engines and Transmissions Dodge to Roll Off Sixth at Michigan Speedway

Brooklyn, Mich. (June 18, 2004) - Brendan Gaughan will start the DHL 400 from the sixth position at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, June 20. Gaughan, who posted a victory at the 2-mile facility in NASCAR’s Truck Series last July, missed being the top qualifying Raybestos Rookie contender by six-hundredths of a second.

Gaughan posted the 21st fastest lap during the morning practice session. He sat with Shane Wilson and Matt Lucas, Penske-Jasper Racing team engineer, to discuss their strategy for qualifying. The decision was unanimous – go faster.

Gaughan, who is carrying the Jasper Engines and Transmissions logo on the hood of his No. 77 Penske-Jasper Racing Dodge this weekend, climbed into his machine with hopes of a top-10 qualifying effort. While he waited, Gaughan kept tabs on his competitor’s qualifying efforts. When teammate Ryan Newman completed his run, Gaughan wanted to know ‘where the bar was’.

“I knew Ryan would give the rest of [the drivers] something to shoot for; he always does,” Gaughan said. “I also knew that my Dodge was capable of more than I got out of it in practice. Cloud cover during my lap didn’t hurt either!”

While it was sunny during most of qualifying, a patch of clouds provided shade during Gaughan’s run.

Only two drivers were forced to pack up with their teams following qualifying, Kerry Earnhardt and Carl Long.

For the second time in three weeks, all three Penske-Jasper-powered Dodges qualified in the top 10. Ryan Newman will start from the fourth position, while Rusty Wallace will start 10th.

“The Penske-Jasper Racing team has struggled hard over the past month,” Gaughan said. “We need a strong finish coming out of this event to help us get back on track. We have spent a lot of time diagnosing what our short-comings are because we already know as a team we are strong. Diagnosing the challenges does nothing for us without action. We are now to the action point. Qualifying is only the beginning. As for the six-hundredths of a second that Brian [Vickers] got me by, well, I guess I should have gone faster.”

The DHL 400 will air live on FOX beginning with pre-race activities at 1 p.m., EDT.

From Jasper

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