Brendan Gaughan finished the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 in the 18th position, improving his spring performance at the 1.54-mile Hampton, Ga.-based facility by 17, and is now looking forward to racing in Phoenix, Ariz., next week.
Gaughan rolled his No. 77 Jasper Engines and Transmissions Dodge off the grid in the 25th position. Throughout the 500-mile event, Gaughan worked with loose handling conditions and on several occasions told his Jasper Engines and Transmissions Racing team he continued to feel a twitch in the car’s handling.
The twitch Gaughan described was a condition he complained of throughout the weekend, despite the team’s efforts to balance the car. Regardless, Gaughan felt he had a good car all day.
“I couldn’t always run the line I wanted, but the car was good,” Gaughan said. “It was loose, but a fast loose. If Mark Martin hadn’t been so strong all day, we might have had a chance to adjust on the car some more and finish on the lead lap.”
When the checkered flag dropped, Gaughan was posted two laps down. In any case, he managed to best his spring Atlanta Motor Speedway finish by 17 positions; he completed only 96.6 percent of the laps that made the March 14 event, crossing the finish line 11 laps down in the 35th position.
“The Penske-Jasper Racing team works hard every week to improve our position,” Gaughan said. “We finished this race 17 positions higher than the spring race and that is a step in the right direction. I’m a rookie and seat time matters.”
Jimmie Johnson crossed the finish line first in an emotional victory for the Hendrick Motorsports team.
Gaughan’s Penske-Jasper-powered teammates Rusty Wallace, Ryan Newman and Travis Kvapil finished the event in the 11th, 17th and 32nd positions, respectively.