Dodge This Teleconference Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2003 Brendan Gaughan BRENDAN GAUGHAN (No. 62 Orleans Racing Dodge Ram) NOTE: Gaughan, a 28-year-old Las Vegas native, won last week's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway...
Dodge This Teleconference
Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2003
BRENDAN GAUGHAN (No. 62 Orleans Racing Dodge Ram)
NOTE: Gaughan, a 28-year-old Las Vegas native, won last week's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to record his circuit-leading fifth victory of the season. Gaughan has won back-to-back poles and takes a 67-point advantage over Travis Kvapil and 100-point lead over No. 1 Mopar Performance Dodge Ram driver Ted Musgrave, into the final five races on the 2003 series schedule. Gaughan's triumph at Vegas clinched the manufacturers' championship for Dodge, and now Gaughan hopes to become the first Dodge driver to win the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title.
HOW LONG DID THE VICTORY CELEBRATION LAST AFTER VEGAS WIN? "We were out until about 4:30 in the morning. It took us a couple of hours to get out of tech, and then we headed over to the race shop by the speed. There were about 200 people at my race shop. Then we took about 75 people to the Orleans Casino. We went to the coffee shop and got some late night food and over to Brendan's Irish Pub and it was about 4:30 when we got done."
ARE PEOPLE STILL SURPRISED THAT YOU RACE OUT OF VEGAS? "We've been making a pretty big deal out of it this year that we aren't based in Charlotte. There are still a few people out there who don't know. How surprised are they? Even if they're not big racing fans, everybody probably thinks big-time racing happens in the Mooresville (N.C.) area. Our only comment to that is we're proud of what we're doing. We're stubborn people from the West Coast. Every time somebody told my father he couldn't do something, it made him try even harder to make it happen. That's what they said about this deal. We're working on making it happen."
WIN, POLE AT VEGAS. IS THAT ONE OF THE MOST SATISFYING THINGS YOU'VE DONE? "It's tough to say something like that because so many things in life are satisfying. I played basketball at Georgetown, and we won Winston West championships. To see your father cry on television or to see your mother be nervous as hell and see 75,000 people show up for your home race when the race has never had more than 15, 000. All those things are very satisfying. It's a great feeling. I can't say it wasn't an absolutely wonderful experience, but the first Winston Cup race I run here will be very satisfying, too. If I happen to win that one, that will be the next greatest thing that ever happened in my life. You have to look at it in stages. That was one of the nicest and greatest accomplishments we've ever had, but we've won a lot of races this year. To win at home with the pressure was pretty special."
WIN GAVE DODGE MANUFACTURERS' CHAMPIONSHIP. WAS THAT ANOTHER POINT OF SATISFACTION? "Absolutely. We came into this season, and Dodge as I've spoken quite often, has been my manufacturer since I was 15 years old. Not many people in this era get to claim that they've driven for Dodge. In 2001 when they picked us up to do a couple of races here and there, it was 'well, here's a guy who's working hard. We'll give him some money.' Then in 2002 running for rookie of the year, we had NAPA and they (Dodge) helped us out a little bit. This year, they got rid of some programs and gave us a little bit more to make us five or six in their program of hierarchy for their teams. We were happy to get that. Just the fact that a manufacturer would support a team that's based out here in Las Vegas and we're kind of bucking the system, not a lot of whole lot of people knew about us, just the fact they'd help us out meant the world to us. Now to come in and prove to Dodge and prove to the racing community that we were worth spending the money they spent on us is pretty special. To wrap up only their second manufacturers' title and to give them their biggest lead ever in the drivers' title, it's pretty special."
WHAT'S THE OUTLOOK FOR SOUTH BOSTON? "It's a bullring. Last year we were in fifth place until the very last lap. Some of that race I really don't remember. I spent about 35 laps throwing up in my helmet. I got sick from the jet fuel they were burning off trying to keep the track clean. I got sick for about 30 laps. It's a tough race track. It's gritty. It takes a lot of old-fashioned NASCAR moxie to get around there. We hit the wall about seven times there last year. As long as you don't hit it with one in or the other too bad and keep your tow-in straight, you can still finish without the body. It's going to be the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at its best."
HOW DO YOU THINK TOYOTA WILL STACK UP IN ITS FIRST SEASON? "I've raced against Toyota a lot in my career in off road. Toyota was always there. They were basically our biggest rivals. Everywhere Toyota goes, they put a lot of effort, a lot of engineering. I think they're spending a lot of time trying to design their program off of what Dodge has done. Personally I think the only team that is prepared for how much money they've spent are the Dodge programs. Toyota comes in with a big bang, but they still don't have their basic engine package approved yet. As we all know and understand, horsepower is king. It looks shaky for 'em, but other than that I think Dodge Motorsports is prepared. I don't think the other guys are very prepared. They may be able stay out front for awhile just because of the sheer number of years they've been at this. Better watch out, they're going to be tough."
"I've been focusing more on getting the Orleans Racing Team the deal that we were just able to put in with Dodge. That takes a lot of effort. I've heard some stuff. I know they have the Darrell Waltrip-Michael Waltrip team, but they haven't named a driver. I know there's the Mike Skinner team. I think Mike Skinner was going to maybe drive for Larry McReynolds."
WHAT DOES YOUR FORMER GEORGETOWN BASKETBALL COACH, JOHN THOMPSON, THINK ABOUT RACING? "He came to Richmond this year. As you know, some ugly stuff happened after the race at Richmond. Not the way to impress a man. He was very thrilled about the race. Thought I was crazy during the race. He thinks the stuff we do is pretty dumb. The situation that happened afterwards is not the way to impress a man. He wasn't really fired up about the whole ending there. You don't want to *%^$ off a seven-foot tall, very overly aggressive and outspoken black man. It doesn't really help. He was pretty fired up after that race. They interviewed him for SPEED after the race. He's very outspoken and I got a lot of things on how to handle things out of him. He wasn't very happy. He says he'll come back to a race, but stuff that happens like happened after that race turns off a lot of fans. Coach Thompson is a fan because of us, but he'll come back. Bill Russell has come to a race with him, and they both think I'm absolutely crazy. One of the things he tried to do for years was get me out of racing. He worked very hard trying to get me out of the sport because he'd never seen one and he didn't understand what I was doing with it. Now that he's been to some races and understands my passion for it, he doesn't try to talk me out of it anymore. He embraces it pretty well, but he still thinks I'm nuts."
HOW DO YOU SEE POINTS RACE PLAYING OUT? "First of all, anybody that questions the NASCAR points system needs to look no further than the Busch Grand National or Craftsman Truck Series. We have one hell of a points battle. How will it play out? It's not over. I've been very fortunate the last couple of weeks that I've been the leader and we have see-sawed back and forth. We've got a bullring coming up this weekend. Then we go back to Texas and go back to Martinsville, another bullring. This is going to go to the team that is the best prepared and brings the best truck each weekend. It's going to be tight, but we feel like we've got very good Dodge trucks to finish out this year. We know exactly which Dodge is going to be used the next five races, and we're keeping our gun loaded. We're bringing the best Dodge truck to each racetrack. Lonestar is the Dodge that has won Texas three times. The truck that is going to South Boston was supposed to be the Richmond truck. That was the best truck. May it rest in peace, so now we're bringing our St. Louis winning truck. At Martinsville we're going to bring a brand new truck. At Phoenix and Homestead, we're bring the Vegas winner and Michigan winner. We're going to go out there loaded."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE TWO UPCOMING SHORT TRACK RACES? "For this race team as well as we like the big tracks and the emphasis we put in the wind tunnel and the time that Dodge gives us and all the engineering help that Dodge gives us, we have a lot of emphasis on the big tracks. We've never said we don't. I think this race team needs to win on a short track just for a little bit more vindication, that we are a complete program. We've won on the flat tracks, intermediates, speedways. The only thing we haven't won on is the short tracks, and we really want to get that win for this team to kind of solidify was as an all-around fantastic race team."
ADDITIONAL COMMENT ON VEGAS VICTORY CELEBRATION "These guys are the whole reason we do so well. For that, I try to take care of them a little bit better than most people do. We went back to our race shop, and literally there were 200 people there. Scott Lynch, the young man who drove the other Dodge for us, he was there. The whole Winston West team, the whole Craftsman truck team and all your friends and sponsors you didn't know you had were there. After that, I grabbed all 25 people that worked in my race shop, about 15 in the engine shop and we went to the coffee shop at the Orleans Casino. We probably had 45 or 50 people and we went in and had breakfast, lunch, Chinese food, dinner, whatever you want and then went over to Brendan's Irish Pub. The SPEED channel guys were there and a couple of other race teams and partied the night away. Some days it's really nice to have a father who's so successful in the business. The employees of the Orleans Casino and the Suncoast and all my father's properties are so interested and take such great pride in what we do. We walked in there and the busboys and waiters and waitresses and hostesses, they started clapping and high-fiving. It was really special. That was a big race for this town. When our race team walked in, bartenders, waitresses and cocktail waitresses were shaking hands with all the guys on the team. It was a special moment. You don't want to look too far ahead. If we get through the next three races and still have a pretty good lead, I'll call Alonzo Mourning and ask him where we need to go (for celebration in Miami). Otherwise, we're just going to keep waiting."
WHAT IS IT ABOUT BIG TRACKS THAT APPEALS TO YOU? "As a driver, my very first race ever in NASCAR was at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, on a big track. I didn't grow up per se on short tracks or the bullrings. My very first race was on a speedway. The first time I went to Tucson Raceway Park, I asked how you raced in there. I was a big track driver from the start. In this business, aerodynamics are huge. That's what makes us so good at those places. The guys work really hard on making the bodies correct and we spend a lot of time on horsepower. We haven't been that bad on the short tracks.... Everybody looks and says we haven't won there (short track) in the Craftsman Trucks yet. We were top three at IRP, top three at Bakersfield. It's the great equalizer in racing. You take the bodies out of the picture so much and a lot of people grew up racing the bullrings, and that makes them a little more equal to you. I believe that this race team, even if we don't win at a short track, is a complete race team. It would be nice, maybe for vindication is an OK word there, to say that we could win on a short track, flat track, intermediate track and speedways. I'm a road racer. I wish we had one on there. NASCAR gets made at me, but I don't care if we race at Daytona. That place is boring and not that much fun to race. It's pretty scary most of the time for a driver. If we took that off and added a couple of road courses I'd be happy."
WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM JOHN THOMPSON THAT HELPED YOU IN RACING? "The old joke with the Hoyas is "Hoya Paranoia." Our Las Vegas-based team stays out of most of the rumors. Our guys' took boxes don't leave our race shop because there's no other race shop to go to. If you want to go to another team, you've got to travel 3,000 miles. We like the fact we're so far away. When we show up as a race track, we stay together as a unit. We don't get involved in all the rumors and talking. We are kinda like a paranoia team. We pull into the race track and somebody says we're not friendly with the other teams. We're friendly with them, but we're not next door neighbors to them. We keep to ourselves. The championship is going through Las Vegas right now. If they don't like it, they can try to beat us."
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO HOMESTEAD FINALE? "I'm excited about it because the Homestead track now is one of those tracks the Orleans team seems to do so well at. Our motor program does really well at those places. It's just like these places we've been winning on. For me, I'm glad Homestead did what they did."
WHAT'S YOUR OPINION OF THE "LUCKY DOG" RULE? "We'd been warned for years about controlling ourselves. I think a couple of drivers ruined a pretty good situation. I understand the safety concerns of it. If you've watched the races the past couple of weeks, you've seen safety crews get to race vehicles faster than they ever have. That's the purpose of it. That's great. I was a guy that gave laps back. I spent a number of years in the Craftsman Truck Series as a back marker. I always tried to be polite to the leaders. I always tried to know that it wasn't my day. It was their day. If the opportunity came, they'd give me my lap back. I won the Texas race because of that. Do I like the rule? I like it in the respect that it gets safety crews out there sooner and makes for a quicker response in that realm. Do I believe that somebody should get their lap back? Yes. I've heard some drivers say they didn't earn it. That's a bunch of BS. Ryan (Newman) the first week it was out won Dover. I believe the system they have probably needs some tweaking, but they're doing the right thing. The first vehicle that is only one lap down gets the pass. That's normally the guy that's the quickest, that has the best chance of staying on the lead lap, so I believe that's a good thing. I don't believe it should be the guy who's five laps down but is the first guy behind the leader. Is there some tweaking that needs to be done? Yes."