JULY 11, 2004
Joliet, IL (July 11, 2004) - If there is a break to be had, the No. 77 Jasper Engines and Transmissions team hopes to reap the benefits, soon.
Brendan Gaughan completed the Tropicana 400 in the 30th position after mechanical failure, completely uncharacteristic of Penske-Jasper equipment, sent him to the garage early in the event for repairs.
Under sunny skies with threats of impending weather, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series took the green flag. However, before the field could get in the swing of things, the caution flag was displayed. Gaughan came down pit road to receive four tires and a chassis adjustment to assist him with his car’s handling through the center of the turns.
As the field was shown the green flag again, smoke began billowing from Gaughan’s machine. Gaughan notified crew chief Shane Wilson that something was definitely wrong, though he initially was unable to identify the problem. A few seconds later, he informed Wilson that he was unable to move through the gears. Wilson told Gaughan to head to the garage for repairs when he made it back around the track and Gaughan complied. Prior to pulling into the garage, Gaughan said he had lost second and third gear, but fourth was working just fine.
The transmission was replaced and Gaughan returned to the track 27 laps down to the lead-lap cars. Upon his return, Gaughan proved he could make more than the minimum speed required by NASCAR to remain on the track as his lap times were competitive with the top-five contenders, and he continued to show his grit for the remainder of the event.
With Gaughan piloting the No. 77 Dodge as though he were on the lead lap, his team did the same. Despite the lost laps, the Penske-Jasper Racing pit crew continued to perform 13-second pit stops until the checkered flag was displayed.
Following the event, Gaughan commented, “This very well could be the best car I have had all season. The hard work is starting to show. We just need a break.”
With the Chicagoland Speedway event completed, Wilson, Gaughan and the rest of the Penske-Jasper Racing road crew will join Rusty Wallace and his No. 2 Miller Lite Racing team to prepare for another Midwestern race, the Brickyard 400. The two teams departed Chicago Midway Airport bound for Indianapolis to participate in a two-day test session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Gaughan and his crew plan to prepare chassis PRS-77 for the Speedway, Ind., event. PRS-77 is the first new chassis allotted to Gaughan and he looks forward to running the same equipment as his Penske Racing South teammates.
“This will be the first time I can try a complete Rusty or Ryan [Newman] set-up to see what the outcome will be,” Gaughan said. “Shane says I might be surprised with the results and he has warned me not to put so much weight into it. All I know is right now, with our luck, we need to try everything we can. I have a great team and they work hard to make my cars competitive and my results have not shown everyone’s effort.”