Hometown Hero Gaughan Ready to Defend His Turf As He Looks For Win in Las Vegas
For Brendan Gaughan and the South Point Racing team this is their weekend on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) schedule.
They are the home team as the NCTS rolls into Las Vegas for this Saturday’s Smith’s Las Vegas 350. This is the race where the pressure is on.
Although Gaughan thoroughly enjoys offering up Las Vegas hospitality, he doesn’t sit still all week because of obligations to fans, friends, sponsors and other teams.
This is the race that Gaughan and his South Point Racing team want a trip to Vicoty Lane at more than anything – they want to be on top at Las Vegas .
“The Vegas race is the double-edged sword weekend,” Gaughan said. “It’s our home track. We are the only team here. We expect to put on a great show for them.
“There is a lot of pressure on us this weekend,” Gaughan continued. “I love pressure. Last year, we had a great truck and wrecked on like lap one. We passed like nine trucks on the first lap and got in somebody else’s wreck. But I always say you create your own luck. We started back there – we created that. This year, the way we have been qualifying now and the way we have been running, we expect to be a threat from the time we unload, and we expect to go out there and be one of those top three teams like we think we are now.”
There’s no better place for Gaughan to win and to prove that his West coast race team is back to old form than at their home track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS). Despite having a rough weekend at New Hampshire last week, Gaughan is currently 12th in the NCTS driver’s championship points and is continuing to battle for a spot in the top 10.
Gaughan and his South Point Racing team have come close to winning this year – scoring a third-place finish at Michigan in June and a best finish this season of second at Bristol just last month. Now, Gaughan is hungry for a win – especially in his hometown.
The South Point Racing shop is housed just outside of turn one of LVMS. The track and the team have a very close relationship, and that makes this race just that much more special for Gaughan and the entire team.
“When everybody comes here, we think it is our territory,” Gaughan said. “It’s just like a college football game – ‘This is our turf’.
“I remember my coaches all the way back to high school telling the team that you do not let people come into your turf and take you down. So we definitely have that attitude when it comes to the race track. This is South Point Racing’s house, and we want to prove that to every truck team here.”
But there’s more to the week than the practice and the race on Saturday at LVMS. There’s a week’s worth of activities that will keep the hometown driver on his toes.
“The easiest thing this week is getting into our Silverado race truck,” Gaughan said. “We have media deals in the morning. We’re going to have the off-road dune buggy out playing – taking media people out, and I want to give the team rides. We’ve got a charity bowling tournament at the South Point Casino. We’ve got a deal at a local YMCA for the kids. We’ve got our Open House at the shop. That’s along with the five million requests from every friend that you have known since grade school who wants to come to the race.
“It’s a tough race mentally to get through. So once I get in the race truck, that’s my favorite time. Nobody can get to me anymore. All I have is ‘Batman’ (Billy Holbrook, my spotter) on the radio and Bryan Berry on the radio and that is when I finally get some peace that week.”
And when Gaughan finally does get behind the wheel, he has one goal – winning in his South Point Chevrolet Silverado.
For Gaughan and the entire team, the season has built up to this week – this Saturday night at the 1.5-mile oval. The team has prepared and tested and worked toward this weekend waiting for the drop of the green flag in their backyard.
They want a win – a memory just like Gaughan has of the night he captured the pole and the victory at Las Vegas in 2003.
“Every time I think about it, it still makes me a little teary eyed,” Gaughan said. “It was phenomenal. 70,000 people were there that night for that race.
“I qualified on the pole and I went to step on the stage and the place erupted like it was Dale Earnhardt Jr. I remember stepping off the stage. Owen Kearns of NASCAR looked at me and said ‘Hey, kiddo, that’s for you.’ I just stood there dumbfounded for a second like ‘That’s for me. Why?’
“It was so cool to see everybody. There were a group of fans in the stands that had G-A-U-G-H-A-N spelled out in letters that were three feet tall. There were pictures of my truck being held up. It just was a very special night for me, and a special night for my race team. We came home with the win and that was just the most amazing night in my racing career.
“This whole team wants to have that feeling back. We want this Las Vegas trophy.”