Brendan Gaughan Post-Race Report - Mansfield
Brendan Gaughan just won’t be happy until he pulls his No. 77 Orleans Racing Dodge into Victory Lane, but all things considered he felt nothing but fortunate to get out of Mansfield Motorsports Speedway with a top 20 finish.
As usual when making their annual visit to the Buckeye State, the Craftsman Truck Series competitors had to vie with Mother Nature to get time on the track. While the drivers did manage to get most of their practice session in, qualifying was rained out and the lineup was set according to the rulebook.
Race day dawned without a threat of rain and Gaughan strapped in for the race 16th on the starting grid. The first 70 laps of the 250-lap race went according to plan for the Orleans Racing team as Gaughan steadily improved his track position and the crew made preparations for their upcoming pit stop.
Gaughan made it to fourth place when he noted a miss in the ignition system and his Dodge began to backslide through the field. A caution on Lap 75 allowed Gaughan to hit pit road where the crew discovered that a short in the engine kill switch on the steering wheel was interfering with the ignition system.
Under the guidance of Rambo Liberati, the crew quickly repaired the problem and returned their driver to the track in 32nd place and still on the lead lap.
From there Gaughan had to avoid the numerous incidents that brought out the caution 18 times for an all-time series record. When the checkers fell, Gaughan was running 17th – an amazing feat in an event where there were only two lead changes in the entire race and both came under caution as a result of pit stops.
“We’ve got to look at the good things,” said Gaughan. “That’s part of being a race team. One good thing was that the boys diagnosed the problem. We had an electrical short with the kill switch. They hunted it down and (engineer) Clint (Jennings) was able to lean in and fix it. All that really did was cost us some good TV time up front.
“We were running fourth when it happened. I was running full throttle and all of a sudden the motor just shut off. I was going to get creamed so I had to be smart and stay on the bottom ad not cause a big wreck. We caught the caution and Clint and the boys diagnosed the problem, fixed it and got us back out.
“We were going to come in around Lap 80 and put tires on and that was going to be it. We thought that would be the trick setup. When guys stopped at Lap 20 we thought that was stupid. I remember the day when after 60 laps of racing whether you needed fuel or not you needed tires. That’s good racing. Now you can do 220 plus laps on the tires and that’s not racing. That’s road course racing backwards. Whoever can pit first and run to the end will win. That’s not an oval race. We need the tires to have harder sidewalls and a softer compound so we can race them and the tires wear out in 60 laps and you’re sliding and you need tires. 220 laps is ridiculous.
“We tried to rout and gouge. I’m not a guy that likes to dump people but I was pushing and leaning. I hit Todd Bodine three or four times. He doored me. I doored him. That was good, hard, clean racing between professionals. That’s called short track racing but it was follow the leader, man. We were good enough to run as fast as Todd (Bodine) who led at least the first 100 laps. We were as fast or faster than him. Once we got back there the tires didn’t make any difference, so it didn’t matter that we had fresh tires.”