By Travis Richmond
Special to the Star-Telegram
Brendan Gaughan's feelings for Texas haven't changed, even if his level of success has slipped.
| © STAR-TELEGRAM/RALPH LAUER|
Gaughan entered Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500 with high hopes because of his success in the Craftsman Truck Series races at Texas Motor Speedway. He won the last four truck races at TMS, including two last season to earn 2003 TMS racer of the year honors, to build momentum for his rookie season on the Nextel Cup Series.
But Gaughan's first Cup race at TMS came to a premature end on Lap 230 when a cam shaft broke. Gaughan's crew tried for 15 minutes to fix the problem in the garage area before calling it quits.
As Gaughan finally exited his No. 77 Dodge, he almost immediately had his black cowboy hat back on his head.
"I love this place. I love Texas," said Gaughan, a Las Vegas native. "It's a great place with great fans. My family and I like to claim we're cowboys. We have a ranch right down the road in Weatherford. We'll come back next year and try to start a new streak."
Gaughan had finished the six previous Nextel races this season and was in fifth place in the rookie standings.
He started 16th Sunday and said he was pleased with his performance heading into a restart at Lap 230. But entering Turn 1, Gaughan knew his engine was in trouble.
"The motor changed pitch, the oil pressure went down, and at that point that's definitely where a lot of oil tends to get on your tires and it's going to hurt real bad," Gaughan said.
Gaughan managed to get his car off the track without incident.
"I got lucky and saved the race car," Gaughan said. "With the Kodak team as new as we are, it's nice to save a race car and not put any oil on the track for anyone else. Being a rookie, [the veteran drivers would] probably come bark at me. I get no respect from them, so at least its a way to get some respect."
Gaughan said he wished he could have finished the race because his car's performance was improving as the race progressed.
"We thought we ran great. We were top 15 at least and we were faster than some guys, but we were way far back in the field," Gaughan said. "We kept digging away and there was no quit in our team. We would have done pretty good."
Brendan Gaughan, who won the last four NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races at Texas Motor Speedway, has stepped up to the Nextel Cup Series but couldn't keep his TMS streak alive:
Event Date Finish
Craftsman O'Reilly 400 June 8, 2001 2nd
Craftsman O'Reilly 400 June 7, 2002 1st
Craftsman Silverado 350 Sept. 13, 2002 1st
Craftsman O'Reilly 400 June 6, 2003 1st
Craftsman Silverado 350 Oct. 11, 2003 1st
Nextel Cup Samsung/RadioShack 500 April 4, 2004 38th