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Take Five: Brendan Gaughan

By Brian Hilderbrand (Las Vegas Sun)

For the first time in more than eight years, Brendan Gaughan is racing for a team owner other than his father, casino mogul Michael Gaughan.

Last winter the elder Gaughan, who owns South Point, closed South Point Racing, the team he formed in 2000 as Orleans Racing to further his son’s racing career, and Brendan Gaughan struck out on his own. He landed a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ride in the No. 10 International Maxx Force Diesel Ford with Circle Bar Racing as a teammate to veteran driver Rick Crawford.

Eleven races into his sixth full season in the Truck Series, Gaughan is 13th in points with a slew of strong outings but no wins and only a pair of top-five finishes to show for it. That’s a far cry from the success he enjoyed in 2003, when he won six races and nearly captured the series championship with his family-owned team.

We caught up with Gaughan this week while he was back in Las Vegas (he moved to North Carolina to be closer to his new team’s race shop) to visit friends and family, and asked him to talk about his rookie season with Circle Bar Racing.

1. Peace at home

On racing for a team owner other than his father: “I love it,” Gaughan said. “One, I’m finally getting paid again, which is really nice. Two, my dad and I now, our relationship is better than it’s ever been. He and I get along great now and it’s been really nice for the family aspect because there’s no more arguing over money on the race team. The family gets along much better now and I’m looking forward to this Christmas much more than last year.”

2. Roller coaster season

On his first 11 races with Circle Bar Racing: “We just can’t get consistent. The Circle Bar team has given us great stuff. Bryan Berry is still my crew chief and we’ve had great trucks every race; we just can’t get consistent and get those finishes. One step forward and two steps back is kind of our thing right now and we need to get more than one step forward. Man, if you look at when we’re running good, we had a chance to win Charlotte, had a chance to win Michigan, had a chance to win Kansas and we had a chance to win Martinsville.”

3. Team player

On his role as Rick Crawford’s teammate: “Rick Crawford led the points earlier this year and now he’s in fifth, (109) points out of the lead now. I’m there to support him trying to win a championship. I’m probably out of the points race now but Rick isn’t and my job is to win races and do the things I can do to help him win a championship.”

4. Glory days

On whether his new team can duplicate the success he enjoyed in 2002 and 2003 with Orleans Racing: “I do think it can. Maybe if I took a page out of Rick’s book, I’d be a little better off. Like I tell the guys in the shop, I like to win and I go for wins. It hurts me sometimes and maybe I need to pull back and be more like Rick. But Rick wants me to go out there and be me, he wants me to go out there and try to win races and he wants me to go out there and push that hard. I’m hoping for the late-summer run here to be that turning point because we’ve been so good so many times this year and when you’re that good that many times ... wins start coming.”

5. Did you know?

Gaughan still holds a Guinness World Record for setting the closed-course land speed record in a production pickup truck. In 2004, before his lone season in the NASCAR Cup Series, Gaughan drove a Viper-powered Dodge Ram SRT-10 for an average speed of 154.587 mph at the DaimlerChrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Mich. The run, which averaged Gaughan’s sustained speed over a “flying kilometer” in both directions on the 4.71-mile oval, shattered the previous record of 147.54 mph.

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