Camp & Associates, Inc.
BRENDAN GAUGHAN, No. 4 KODAK RACING DODGE. GAUGHAN ENTERS THE 2004 SEASON AS A RAYBESTOS ROOKIE IN THE NEXTEL CUP SERIES.
SCOTT RIGGS WAS ASKED THIS SAME QUESTION: WHY IS THIS OPPORTUNITY RIGHT FOR YOU?
"Scott and I both came from great situations. We had championship caliber race teams. The Orleans team is still a championship caliber team; ppc is a championship caliber team. In order to leave an opportunity like that it has to be really good. I said last year that I wasn't going to leave the Orleans Racing Team until one, that I knew everything was settled out there but two, it had to be the best opportunity. I made the quote of the moon wrapped up in a brown paper bag. Well, it was delivered to my doorstep. Having the opportunity to work with a sponsor the size of Kodak is great. They are one of the largest and greatest corporations in the world. It's an opportunity that's amazing. To be able to put Roger Penske's name on your shirt and be able to put Jasper Motorsports on your shirt and know that that is your owners. If you are in racing you know Roger Penske, period. You know what he's done. You know he's won 13 Indy 500s. You know that he is the man when it comes to auto racing in America. To have the opportunity to get with the caliber of Penske and Jasper, a sponsor as big as this, there is no 'Oh well maybe' or 'It could be' or 'Let's not do this.' They want us to win. They are giving us the resources to win and they are spending the money and making sure the race team has everything we could want to make us go fast. And that's what it took to get us here. It took all those right pieces to say this is the right deal."
ARE YOU GOING TO BE DISAPPOINTED IF YOU DON'T WIN?
"I'd be very disappointed."
REALISTICALLY, YOU EXPECT TO WIN?
"Absolutely, I'd be very disappointed. When we ran for Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the Craftsman Trucks, you guys asked me the same thing and I said the Orleans team is going to win. We want to win. I don't care if you are a rookie or Rusty Wallace, a veteran since 1983. You always want to win. That's what we do this sport for. We don't do it to just come and make the show and show up. We come to win. Kodak is accustomed to being number one. They're film is number one, they're digital processing is number one, all their stuff has been number one since they started it back in the 1800s. We're all into that. We're not here to just to finish and show up and make races."
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO LEARN HOW TO WIN RACES? HOW DIFFICULT IS IT GOING TO BE TO LEARN HOW TO WIN AT THE NEXTEL CUP LEVEL?
"In NASCAR I think once you learn how to win it carries over to almost all of them. We ran the Winston West first, ran for Raybestos Rookie out there, and did not win it because we weren't ready to win. We didn't even learn how to finish yet. Once we learned how to finish we started winning races then we started winning championships. The Craftsman Trucks, we ran it part time because we didn't have the money but we had already taught ourselves how to win in Winston West. We started running truck races, limited budget, getting things rolling and started getting more of a budget and started getting Dodge help. Once you get the help, you've already learned how to win that way. It just carries over to the next level. This deal is the same way. The Craftsman Trucks, we've learned how to win. Shane and I understand what it takes to finish races. You have to finish these things. You can win if you're not at the finish line. The old moniker of in order to finish first you must first finish, I hate that saying, but it's true. You have to finish and that's the goal. If we can be up front and get toward the finish line then you make a run toward the win and that's what we plan on doing."
WHAT'S GOING TO BE THE MOST CHALLENGING THING FOR YOU?
"The biggest challenge is that I love spending time with the fans. In the Craftsman Trucks we got voted the most popular driver last year and that's a great award that I loved to get. I really am honored when you get those things because I love the fans. I love to spend time with them. This year I'm going to be setup where I'm going to be signing autographs every Saturday or Sunday and I like to stay for all the fans. The problem is now I've been told that the lines are going to get pretty big and there's going to be a lot of people there. I'll stay as long as I can and I will go slower than most drivers because I like to ask names and spend more time with them so what I'm hoping is that they understand that I will be a little more person with them. Maybe they didn't get me this time, but the next time that you do get to me I'm going to be that personal also. The hardest part is going to be balancing that and the stuff that I have to take care of on the racetrack."
SO IT'S AS MUCH OF AN ADJUSTMENT FOR YOU AWAY FROM THE TRACK AS IT IS ON THE TRACK.
"Absolutely. I've always had a lot of fun with the press and I've always had a lot of fun in television. Most of the time you try not to trust reporters but somedays you make friendships with them and it ends up being a friendship and it works out in your favor and the same thing with the fans. You make friendships with them. That's what's got me to this point, but I also care about my team like a family. I've got to balance the team being like a family, I want to balance the fans so that they still enjoy it and know that I enjoy it, making sure that they know I'm trying to sell a product. I've got to make sure that I try to sell Kodak so I want to keep all that going and the time constraints I heard get tough but you know what? We're going to try and make it work."
JIMMIE JOHNSON TOLD JAMIE MCMURRAY LAST YEAR THAT HIS LIFE WAS GOING TO CHANGE WHEN HE JOINED THE NEXTEL CUP SERIES. HAS EITHER ONE OF YOUR TEAMMATES TOLD YOU THAT YOUR LIFE WAS GOING TO CHANGE NOW THAT YOU ARE IN THE NEXTEL CUP SERIES?
"Is my lifestyle going to change? Probably but I'm not going to let some of that change the way that I'm going to be. And yeah, Jimmie said oh you can't do this or that and you know what? You're right: they can't. But I'm going to try and until I prove that I can't I'm going to try to be the same goofy guy that I always am. I'm going to try and have the same fun that I've always had and try to let the fans know it and try to continue what I've been doing."
AT THE END OF THE SEASON, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR STAT SHEET TO READ?
"Once again, Kodak, Penske, Jasper, these are organizations that just don't do things just to show up. We want to be the Raybestos Rookie of the Year, that's goal number one. We want to win a bunch of races and we want to make a run for the championship. Just like the Craftsman Truck Series, we're not upset that we didn't win the championship. We made a run for it. Everybody that we were strong and knew that we were there. We'd like to make a run for it."
CAN YOU FINISH IN THE TOP-10 IN POINTS?
"I hope so. We'd like to see all three Penske teams in the top-10 in points. We believe we have the caliber of teams to do it. Ryan (Newman) and Rusty (Wallace) are very formidable opponents and we hope that if we can keep pace with them we'll be up there."
IS THERE ALREADY MORE PRESSURE IN CUP THAN THE TRUCK SERIES?
"I'm just having fun. Pressure is sitting on the bench in an NCAA tournament game having Coach Thompson yell at you when I can't do anything to help us during the game. That's pressure because I can't help anything. I'm now Allen Iverson. Allen didn't feel the pressure; he had the ball. It was his to make or break. It wasn't mine to make or break then. I could only sit there and watch and bite my nails and hope that what I had done in practice helped enough. So that was pressure. The ball is basically in my hands. It's my job to go out there and try to prove that we can do it."
WAS THERE MORE PRESSURE LAST YEAR BECAUSE YOU DID NOT HAVE A PRIMARY SPONSOR FOR YOUR FAMILY OWNED TEAM IN THE TRUCK SERIES?
"That was a lot more pressure. It was our family owned team. Dad was the sponsor, the owner and that puts a strife on a relationship. That's a lot of pressure. Each week knowing that it's coming out of your own pocket if we don't win we're not going to show up the next week if we don't run well and prove that we are a championship contender. That's a lot of pressure, especially on a son to his father. Coming to an organization like this, the outside world says 'Look at all the pressure.' To me, this is exactly what we've worked so hard for is to have a chance to come to something like this. We've got the Raybestos championship that we get to try to win, the NEXTEL Cup championship that we try to win; we have a lot of different realms that we want to try to accomplish here. It's less pressure for me personally." HOW SPECIAL TO YOU IS THE RACE AT LAS VEGAS? "It's going to be a headache (laughs). It's going to be phenomenal. At the Craftsman Truck Series race, 70,000 people showed up and they've never had more than 15,000 for a truck race in Vegas and we'd like to think that we had something to do with it. The Vegas race sells out every year. Las Vegas Motor Speedway does not need help with that. It's going to be quite an awesome deal to walk across the stage and with any luck win the rookie of the race at Rockingham and walk across and get the Raybestos check at Vegas so you get a little extra time up on that stage in front of the hometown. It's going to be awesome."