Gaughan Scores Top 10 In BackUp Truck At Gateway
For a team that has had its share of bad luck this season, Brendan Gaughan and the South Point Racing team took the checkered flag at Gateway International Raceway believing that some good luck had finally come their way as Gaughan scored his sixth top-10 finish of the season in a backup truck at St. Louis.
"Our backup truck is even a top 10 truck,” Gaughan said after the race. “Chevrolet has done everything we have asked of them. They have gotten us to where we can pull a backup out and still finish top 10.
“Thank you to Bryan Berry (crew chief) and the South Point guys. I made a mistake in practice. I drove our primary truck a little too hard in turn two and the damage was too bad, so they had to pull out our backup truck.
“They worked late on Friday night, and NASCAR let us come in early on Saturday morning to get the truck ready for qualifying. Considering we didn’t get any practice in this truck, I’m pretty happy with the outcome. During the race, the guys didn't give up, and they kept adjusting. And that kept me pumped up. It looks like we are close to getting our South Point Chevrolet in the top 10 in points now. We'll see how far we can get from there."
Behind the wheel of the backup truck, Gaughan was able to qualify his No. 77 South Point Chevrolet in fifth spot. But with no practice in the truck, the South Point team wasn’t sure what they would have when it came time to race.
In the early laps, Gaughan fell back to 10th spot due to a loose handling condition. Gaughan complained of being too loose to get into turn one and two and coming out of turns three and four.
As the laps ticked off the board, Gaughan told his crew that the truck started out too loose, but it was now getting tight in the center of the corners. He needed help with the handling of the truck if he was going to be able to gain any positions on the track.
By the time the caution waved at Lap 58, Gaughan had fallen back to 17th spot. The South Point pit crew went to work on the truck, making an air pressure adjustment and a track bar adjustment and adding four tires and fuel.
Gaughan returned to the track in 17th spot.
By Lap 80, Gaughan had moved into the 15th spot on the race track. He told his crew that now the truck was too tight – his truck didn’t come off the corners at all. He also told his crew that the front end didn’t have any grip and it wasn’t cutting the way he needed it to.
At Lap 104, Gaughan was able to bring his truck to the attention of his pit crew under caution. The team made a laundry list of adjustments including an air pressure change, a right rear and right front shock adjustment and a track bar adjustment. The crew also changed four tires and added fuel.
The pit stop was a solid one for the team, who came out of the pits in 16th spot.
Gaughan returned to the track, and by Lap 120 he reported to his crew that his truck was very loose. In fact, Gaughan told his team that he was “dirt tracking” the truck in the turns.
As the additional fuel burned off, Gaughan reported to his crew that the loose condition had gotten better. By Lap 125, he said the truck was now just a little loose – but he felt confident that he could drive a loose truck better than most people.
By Lap 130, Gaughan had moved his race truck into the top 10, and he started turning his quickest laps of the day on the track but he couldn’t gain any more spots on the field.
Gaughan finished the race in the 10th spot.
“We may have backed our way into a top 10 this week, but I’ll take it,” Gaughan said. “This finish is a credit to my guys and how hard they work and to Chevrolet and how much they have helped us this year.
“I think we got a bad set of tires on our second run because we made adjustments and it was the only set of tires that made us tight like that. In the end we ended up being too loose on a set of tires that were probably a little better. All in all it looks like a good points night, and right now, that’s what we want. We want good points nights that will get this team in the top 10 – where it should be.”
Gaughan currently sits 12th in driver’s points – 93 points out of 10th spot. The team is 14th in owner’s points – 159 points out of 10th place.
Gaughan and the South Point Racing team will return to action on Saturday, Sept. 15 at New Hampshire International Speedway.