Brendan Gaughan Post-Race Report - Indy
After a two-week hiatus Brendan Gaughan and the Orleans Racing team were raring to go racing at O’Reilly Raceway Park in the 15th race of the season.
A one-race sponsorship deal with Huttig Building Products added fuel to their competitive fire as they prepared to do battle at the tiny 0.686-mile track located just a few miles from the hallowed grounds of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Gaughan first focused his efforts on qualifying and the result was the fifth fastest lap overall and the team’s best start of the season by far. No previous winner at O’Reilly Raceway Park had ever started outside the top five and Gaughan and the No. 77 team obviously liked those odds.
“We’ve got a great Dodge and what a time to have a one-race sponsor on board,” said Gaughan following his qualifying run. “I think somebody can win from outside the top five tonight but I’d like the truck that’s starting fifth to do it.”
Gaughan gave his new friends at Huttig Building Products plenty to cheer about during the first 60 laps of the race as he kept the leader in sight while running comfortably in the fifth position
Wholesale pit stops during the fourth caution of the race made for a congested pit road. Gaughan, joining the leaders on pit road, was posted in the 18th following his stop after several drivers elected to stay on the track. When the green flew Gaughan battled with traffic for every inch of track he could take.
On Lap 143, the tight confines became too close for Gaughan’s comfort when Kerry Earnhardt took aim on the No. 77 Dodge and turned it into the No. 17 truck driven by David Reutimann. Unlike Reutimann, Gaughan was able to continue the race and go the distance.
Unfortunately Gaughan had less than 50 laps to maneuver his way through the relentless traffic but with 22 trucks still running on the lead lap he did well to get back to 16th by the time the checkers flew.
“We had a top three Dodge tonight,” said Gaughan. “We were as fast or faster than Dennis Setzer all night long. We passed the top three twice. Kerry Earnhardt right reared us on the straightaway and wrecked us and he took out David Reutimann in the process. I just don’t know what else to say about that. . It’s a shame for them and everybody else involved including this race team. We built a great Dodge truck and we had a chance to win again.
“It was nice having a sponsor. Huttig Building Supplies had about 140 people here tonight. We did a tailgate party for them and we had our Huttig hats on and unfortunately we got to cut the decklid off the truck and give it to them at the end of the night. That wasn’t really the goal but they got a little bonus out of it. I think they’re really happy.
Gaughan then added, “The fans at home don’t get to see all the stuff that tells if a team is doing better or not. Finishes tell you if you’re doing better or not. We haven’t had a lot of better finishes but I can honestly say without ducking my head or not looking you in the eye that our short track program is as good now as it’s ever been. We’re still searching on the flat track stuff but when it comes to short tracks and when it comes to the big tracks we’re golden, so we’re ready to go get back after it next weekend at Nashville Superspeedway.”