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Crash with Yeley ends Gaughan's day early

By Mark Aumann, NASCAR.COM

FONTANA, Calif. -- Brendan Gaughan has to wonder if he'll ever see the checkered flag again.

For the sixth straight race, Gaughan's No. 77 Kodak Dodge wasn't around for the finish after he T-boned open-wheel star J.J. Yeley's out-of-control No. 11 Vigoro Chevrolet early in Sunday's Pop Secret 500 at California Speedway.

"It wasn't our fault," Gaughan said. "(Yeley's) going to blow by the cameras and blow it off, act like it didn't happen, but some of us are out here not driving Sprint cars, trying to drive Nextel Cup cars, and it's going to hurt us."

The whole incident started on Lap 33, when Yeley went high in Turn 1 and caught the outside barrier. Yeley's car rode the wall for several hundred yards, then suddenly veered toward the infield before Yeley caught it and turned back to the outside.

Everyone else in the field went low -- except Gaughan, who suddenly had a front window full of Yeley. He hit Yeley's Chevy just behind the right front tire, which crushed the Dodge's radiator.

"The guy shouldn't have been out there," an angry Gaughan said. "(Nextel Cup director) John Darby said it for years to all the rookies, if you go up to the wall and hit it, and if you've got it caught, keep it up there. He had it up there and I watched him and thought, 'OK, I'll go underneath him.'

"I started to go low and he goes low, he goes back above me, for some reason corrects again and comes back in front of us. Another one of those days when the Kodak gets to say it had a great car but it didn't have a great finish."

Yeley, making his Nextel Cup debut, took responsibility for the accident, but wondered aloud why Gaughan was the only one who chose the high line around his spinning car.

"I went into the same groove I had in the previous lap and the car got a little bit loose and chased up the racetrack," Yeley said. "I thought I had that thing saved for a long time up against the wall. There was just a point there where I knew I was going to lose it and I definitely didn't want to spin down in front of other cars.

"I locked up the brakes and tried to keep the thing against the wall. I spun around in the last second and I thought it was in the clear and still on the brakes and then comes the 77 and hit me in the front tire there and just killed our chances of getting back out.

"You know, I think if he might have been able to slow down and go to the bottom like some other cars, we could have just fired up and put some new tires on it and gone back out."

Gaughan now has eight DNFs in 25 races and hasn't finished in the top 20 since the first Michigan race.

His current luckless streak started at Pocono, where he was involved in an accident. A crash sidelined him at Indianapolis, the transmission gave out at Watkins Glen and the engine expired at Michigan before another wreck put him out at Bristol.

Both drivers were released after a trip to the infield medical center.

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