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Brendan Gaughan Post-Race Report - Talladega

The closing laps of the inaugural Craftsman Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway looked a lot like the closing laps of the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Thankfully for Brendan Gaughan, Talladega had a much sweeter ending.

Back in February Gaughan was poised to kick off the season with a top 10 when he was swept into a multi-truck crash on the final lap and settled for a disappointing 24th place finish. It was like déjà vu for the driver of the No. 77 Dodge when he lined up third for the final single-file restart at Talladega with 11 laps to go.

It didn’t take long before the field was three-wide and the shuffling began. Holding his line wasn’t much of an option with everyone frantically scrambling for position so Gaughan eventually found himself smack in the middle of a hornet’s nest.

Something had to give and on the final lap it did.

At the front of the pack Mike Wallace got tapped by another driver and was sent headfirst into the outside wall. As Wallace was taking his ride Derrike Cope spun off the nose of yet another vehicle in a move that mirrored Wallace’s.

As the tire smoke built in front of him Gaughan was surrounded by trucks and in about the safest place he could possible be under the circumstances. Save for a light tap from behind, Gaughan safely steered around the danger and took the checkers with a 12th place finish.

“We were better than a 12th place truck but I went back too late in the race and it was my own fault,” Gaughan said. “We had a Dodge that should have been better but we were the top Dodge. We worked our tails off. The guys had great pit stops and Rambo had great strategy. We were in the middle of the mix. We started at the back and went to the front. Then we went to the back and got back to the front.”

As for the track itself, Gaughan had nothing but praise for the recent improvements.

“The pavement is fantastic,” Gaughan noted. “There’s not a bump in it and it has plenty of grip. It was typical Talladega with four- and five-wide. I think we even crammed six on that last lap but the sixth didn’t make it.

“This may have been the biggest crowd ever for a Craftsman Truck race. I drove Nextel Cup in 2004 and that looked every bit as big as a Cup crowd to me. I loved it and there wasn’t one fan here that didn’t get their money’s worth. That was a fantastic race.”

© 2006 Cyber Speed Design