Brendan Gaughan wins first Nationwide race in Road America thriller

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Brendan Gaughan has returned to victory lane in NASCAR.

It's been 11 years since Brendan Gaughan last won a race in one of NASCAR's three national touring divisions, but now, that streak is over. Today at Road America, he claimed his first Nationwide Series victory after 98 attempts. He ran off the course on three separate occasions during the Gardner Denver 200, but a call to pit on lap 39 in order to top off with fuel turned into the winning call for Gaughan and company.

"I tried to give the race away three times today, and I'm fully embarrassed," Gaughan admitted in victory lane.

It was a race that started damp, went green dry, closed in wet conditions, and finished in the sun shine. Yeah, it was one of those kind of days.

Alex Tagliani
Alex Tagliani

Photo by: Getty Images

Alex Tagliani endured quite a tumultuous race, especially in the final handful of laps. He seemed to have the race in hand before NASCAR was forced to go into overtime (Green-White-Checkered) for Justin Marks stalled on the race track.

Suddenly, he took found himself stopped on the track after running out of fuel as well. Once he finally made it back to pit road, he took slicks while most of the field was still on rain tires. Tagliani rocketed up through the pack after restarting 21st with just two laps remaining, finishing a very close and highly impressive second.

His charge to the front did not go without incident however. He ruffled the feathers of Nationwide regular Chase Elliott, who he made contact with while battling for third on the final lap.

He didn't show us a lot of respect, I felt like," Elliott stated." He went on to say that the 'ringers' rarely show respect and just knock the regulars off the track.

The underdog story of the race had to be 47 year-old Kevin O'Connell. Driving the No. 23 Rick Ware Racing car, the road course 'ringer' was battling for the win on the final lap, coming home third when it was all said and done.

In fact, the entire top ten was filled with underdogs. Behind these three, it was Chase Elliott, JJ Yeley, Jeremy Clements, Andy Lally, Landon Cassill, Elliott Sadler, and Mike Bliss.

Trevor Bayne
Trevor Bayne

Photo by: Getty Images

Championship contender Trevor Bayne ran well in dry conditions but struggled once the rain came. Bayne started the race in the back and raced into the the top ­five early on, before running off the track several times in the second half and wrecking. He wound up 27th after completing 41 laps. He spun three different times, with the final incident causing significant damage to the front-end of his Mustang.

"It all went downhill as soon as the rain started coming down," Bayne said.

Sam Hornish Jr. led 25 laps in the dry conditions, but like Bayne, he hit problems in the wet. Hornish was able to salvage a 12th place finish, but that was nowhere near what his car was capable of.

JR Motorsport's Regan Smith now holds a 10 point advantage over Gibbs' Elliott Sadler. His teammate Chase Elliott sits third, 11 markers adrift of Smith.

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About this article
Series NASCAR-NS
Event Road America
Article type Race report
Tags alex tagliani, brendan gaughan, kevin o'connell, nascar, nationwide, road america