Daytona: Brendan Gaughan preview

Brendan Gaughan, South Point Racing Bring New Attitude To Daytona Las Vegas, NV (Feb. 12, 2007) -- With a new team name and the support of new manufacturer Chevrolet, Brendan Gaughan and the No. 77 South Point Racing team are geared up for a ...

Brendan Gaughan, South Point Racing Bring New Attitude To Daytona

Las Vegas, NV (Feb. 12, 2007) -- With a new team name and the support of new manufacturer Chevrolet, Brendan Gaughan and the No. 77 South Point Racing team are geared up for a strong run during the 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) season kicking off with the season-opening Silverado HD 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

"The way we ended the season with crew chief Bryan Berry and how well our team started to come together is a big factor in making me -- us -- believe that we can win races and make a run for the title," said Gaughan, who embarks on his fifth full-season of NCTS competition in 2007. "The guys felt that the work they were doing was paying off and it carried over into this off-season and now into the new season.

"Our switch to Chevrolet has been big, too. The amount of engineering and the intangibles of the support that we're getting from Chevrolet is incredible. We feel that it is going to be a major help to us. Chevrolet is giving us more engineering help than we have ever had, and we can already see the gains from it."

With the additional manufacturer support from Chevrolet and a confident Gaughan behind the wheel, the South Point Racing team will tackle the 2.5-mile Daytona track. But the team will have its work cut out for them.

The preseason test didn't go as well as Gaughan and his crew had hoped. So, the team returns to Daytona with a completely different race truck than what they tested in January.

"Tom (Buzze, general manager) and I sat down and said we have a big goal -- we both want to win Daytona," Gaughan said. "And that is a major goal of this race team. After our test, it looked pretty bleak. But we took that truck directly to A.J. Henry's (in Concord), told AJ what we felt at the test and what we had discussed with the Chevrolet engineers, and we cut the bodies off.

"We made sure that we're not going back there with the same thing that tested poorly. We gave it every effort we could."

The team will also go to Daytona without their regular Kroyer Racing Engines under the hood. As was announced earlier, the No. 77 team will run engines by Mark Smith of Pro Motor Engines for the first two races of the season.

"With the transition to Chevrolet, it takes a little more time to build engines than to build race trucks," Gaughan said. "So this buys us a month for Kevin to continue his research and development of our engine program. It's a smart move. Kevin believes this team could win one of those races and he didn't want to be a detriment to us, so we went to a very proven, very capable commodity -- Pro Motors, Mark Smith.

"I feel very comfortable going with a Mark Smith engine. He's won races every year. His team beat me for the championship in 2003. I'm happy we have the opportunity to go to Daytona and California with engines that we feel are capable of winning. And when we go to Atlanta, we are going to have a Kroyer Racing Engine in, and we will feel that it will be the powerplant we need to win in part because of Mark (Smith) and his help right now."

More than doing well at Daytona, Gaughan wants to prove that his West coast team is a force to be reckoned with week in and week out in the NCTS.

"We proved it once, and we're going to prove it again," Gaughan said. "2007 is definitely the year to prove it again. The quality of people we have been able to hire in the race shop, the caliber of people that are going over the wall for us now and the caliber of people running my race team are as good as any place in the country. I say that this is the year we are going to remind everybody the West coast is alive and we're coming to kick your butts again."

Gaughan Shoots Hoops, Talks with Local Daytona High School Basketball Teams

While not turning left on the race track in Daytona, Gaughan will take part in another of his favorite pastimes as he'll hit the hardwood with two local high school basketball teams.

Gaughan, who earned a spot on the Georgetown Hoyas basketball team while attending school (1993-1997), played for legendary coach and mentor John Thompson. The team Gaughan played on recorded two Big East regular season championships and competed in two Sweet 16s and one Elite Eight in post-season NCAA tournament play.

Gaughan takes the opportunity in various communities to visit with teams and talk to the student athletes about the importance of staying in school, teamwork. He event shares some of his Georgetown stories about Coach Thompson and his teammates, including Allen Iverson.

This week in Daytona, Gaughan will visit with Spruce Creek High School's varsity boy's basketball squad on Friday, Feb. 9. Then on Monday, Gaughan will meet with the Atlantic High School varsity team.

"I love talking with kids," Gaughan said. "I'm fortunate enough that I'm in a role that I can give back some of what Coach Thompson taught me, and that's the importance of an education. It enables me to talk to kids, and give them a little of the stay in school speech and make sure they realize how tough the real world is out there.

"It also lets me go and get some work out in. Normally, I get to go and practice with the team a little bit and maybe run a couple of games so they can see that this short, fat race car driver actually isn't giving them all these lines. I actually do know what I'm doing a little bit. It earns their respect. Anytime you can earn somebody's respect, they listen to you a little bit better. That's my goal with visiting the basketball teams. I love doing it. I would do it all over the country if I could."

-credit: spr

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Brendan Gaughan