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Gaughan Gets the Blues in Memphis

What looked like a good night for Brendan Gaughan and the South Point Racing team at Memphis Motorsports Park didn’t end up that way on Saturday night. After a miscue on a pit stop, Gaughan was relegated to a 22nd-place finish.

Gaughan qualified his No. 77 South Point Chevrolet Silverado in sixth place at the three-quarter mile short track. With a starting place near the front and a truck that he had confidence in, Gaughan was looking forward to a solid run all night.

When the first caution flag of the night waved at Lap 7, Gaughan had already moved into fourth place. He radioed his crew that “everything seems to be fantastic” with the truck and its handling.

Gaughan held his fourth place position for the next 40 laps. However, his truck began developing a tight handling condition, which prevented him from going into the corners the way he wanted. Gaughan told his crew that if he went to hard into the corners the truck would snap loose.

The ill-handling condition caused Gaughan to slide back to seventh-spot on the race track. But a caution flag at Lap 71 gave the team the opportunity they needed to work on the No. 77 Chevrolet.

Gaughan brought his Silverado down pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. The team also made an air pressure adjustment and a track bar adjustment. Quick pit work helped the crew gain two spots on pit road, however, a problem on the stop forced Gaughan to come back down pit road.

The jack was dropped too quickly on the stop, and two lug nuts were not on the left front tire. Gaughan returned to pit road for the lug nuts to be replaced. He restarted the race in 23rd spot.

Despite the miscue on the pit stop, Gaughan returned to the track with a determination to make up the lost ground. He raced his way into the 21st position with lap times as quick as the leaders, however he was having a hard time passing on the short track.

When the caution flag waved at Lap 114, crew chief Bryan Berry told Gaughan that what the team needed was track position. The decision was made to change right side tires, add fuel and make another track bar adjustment to help the tight condition that Gaughan was continuing to battle on the track.

The call gave Gaughan the much needed track position as he gained 13 spots in the pits – moving from 21st place to eighth on the restart.

However, with trucks behind Gaughan with four fresh Goodyear tires, Gaughan seemingly couldn’t keep pace. He slid back through the field and could not regain positions on the track. Gaughan finished in 22nd place, one lap down to the leaders.

“It was a frustrating night for all of us,” Gaughan said. “We had a good Chevrolet that was turning some great laps, even though it was tighter than I liked it.

“The problem on that first pit stop really hurt us tonight. We’ve had great pit stops all year, and I know that there are going to be problems occasionally – I just hate we had one tonight.

“Bryan tried to get us back up at the front, but I just couldn’t beat the guys with four fresh tires. It was just disappointing.

“But like I said at the beginning of the year, this is a team – we lose together and we win together. Tonight wasn’t our night. We’ll just pack it up and try and get them at Kentucky.”

© 2007 Cyber Speed Design