GAUGHAN SEEKS ANOTHER TOP 10, CONSISTENCY AS TEAM HEADS TO NEW HAMPSHIRE
LAS VEGAS, NV (September 10, 2007) -- With back-to-back top 10 finishes, Brendan Gaughan and his South Point Racing team come to New Hampshire International Speedway looking for one thing -- continued consistency as they battle for a top 10 spot in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) points championship.
Gaughan scored a runner-up finish at Bristol Motor Speedway and a 10th-place effort at Gateway International Raceway, the last two NCTS races. It was the first time this season the team has posted consecutive top-10 finishes.
Although pleased with his team's effort, Gaughan is determined that his Las Vegas-based organization still has more to prove.
"It's not so much being able to score top 10s back-to-back, it's being able to consistently get top 10s," Gaughan said. "Two races in a row makes you feel good. It gives you a little warm and fuzzy, but we want more than that.
"Just look at this stretch of races coming up for us -- New Hampshire is a track that I've done well at. Las Vegas is our home track, and we want to do more than just finish in the top 10. And Talladega is another track that I do well at. We need to go get a top 10 in every one of those races -- we're shooting for getting five in a row. Maybe we can get a couple that are almost wins and maybe even a win. But we need to start focusing on consistency because that's when you get to that next level, and I think we are ready to be there."
To better prepare for the New Hampshire race, Gaughan's South Point Racing team is testing at Richmond International Raceway today and Tuesday with the help of driver Dennis Setzer. Gaughan was under doctors' orders to stay in Las Vegas as he recovers from an illness.
"If I can't drive my truck, I can't think of a person I'd rather have behind the wheel than Dennis," Gaughan said. "I've said many times that he's my hero, and I'm grateful that he was willing to help us out this week as we get ready for New Hampshire."
Gaughan says that the flat 1.058-mile oval is a perfect place for him to extend his top-10 streak. Although not a big track, Gaughan says that New Hampshire fits his driving style perfectly.
In four starts at New Hampshire International Speedway, Gaughan has two fifth-place finishes and one 10th-place finish. His only finish outside of the top-10 at New Hampshire came last season when a wreck relegated Gaughan to 34th-place.
"Last year we actually had a good truck," Gaughan said. "We qualified in the top 10 and we were running well. I went to pass somebody -- a lap truck, I think -- and I got up in the marbles and wrecked. It was driver error on my part. I can't say it was anybody else's fault. I just wasn't patient enough around lapped traffic.
"But overall, New Hampshire has always been a really good track for this race team. It's a fun race track. It's challenging. It's tough. It's very difficult, and the more difficult -- the more I step up to the plate. The more difficult the track, the better this race team performs."
And that is Gaughan's goal this weekend -- a solid performance by his race team. A solid finish is crucial for the team to break into the top 10 in points, and he wants his team to have some extra momentum and confidence as they prepare for the race after New Hampshire -- the truck race at their home track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"The Craftsman Trucks are tougher than they have ever been," Gaughan said. "People always ask me if I think the Craftsman Trucks should have a chase for the championship and I say 'Why?'
"My Chevrolet teammate, Ron Hornaday now has a four point lead in the championship. Every year, the Craftsman Trucks come down to the best points battle in NASCAR.
"For our team to get into the top 10 in points right now, we have to pass a Roush Racing team, and two or three Toyota teams. These are major programs that you've got to stay in front of now to be able to run in the top 10.
"That's our goal right now -- the top 10 and how far we can get to it. I think we can get pretty far into it."
College Football Big Part of South Point Racing
On Saturday afternoon, Gaughan and his South Point Racing team will turn their focus to the one-mile flat track at New Hampshire International Speedway. Fast laps on the race track and quick pit stops will be key for the team to score a solid finish.
Two members of the South Point team know especially how important the team effort is if they want to sack their opponents on the race track. Both driver Gaughan and jack man Chris Justice were college football players -- Gaughan, a kicker at Georgetown University and Justice, a starting defensive back at Wake Forest University.
"Just like football, racing and pit road is a big team environment," Justice said. "You have the different positions just like a football team. In racing, you have seven people as opposed to 11. Your jack man is your quarterback. Your tire changers and carriers are your wide receivers. Your gas man and catch can man are kind of like your tight ends. They kind of hold everything secure in the rear. Everybody depends on everybody in each environment, so that camaraderie that you gain as a group translates over in both industries."
This weekend, Justice will have to trade in his Wake Forest gear for some Nebraska attire, thanks to a friendly wager made with SPEED announcer, Rick Allen, who was once the home field announcer for the Nebraska football team.
On Saturday, Nebraska defeated Wake Forest 20 to 17, which means Justice will don the red and white of the Cornhuskers team at New Hampshire.
"I'm not very excited about wearing a Nebraska hat," Justice said. "But I'm game for it. It was all in fun -- I just wish that my Deacons could have pulled it out. Of course, if the Nebraska gear brings us some luck, I'll wear the hat all year."
Special Birthday Wishes
This weekend, the No. 77 South Point Chevrolet is carrying a 'Happy Birthday, Sean' decal on its deck lid. The special birthday wishes are being sent to Sean Calisto of Daytona, FL., who turns nine-years-old on Sunday (Sept. 16).
Calisto, who has Tri-Functional Protein Deficiency (TFP) -- a rare fatty acid oxidation disorder which prohibits his body from breaking down fat, became a special member of the South Point Racing team at Daytona testing in January.
Calisto was visiting the race track with his mother, Keri, at testing when he met Gaughan and the entire team. He got the chance to try on Gaughan's driver's uniform and even sit in the race truck. At the Daytona truck race, Gaughan carried Calisto at driver introductions.
"Sean is a very special boy with a very rare disease," Gaughan said. "He has become very special to our whole team, and we hope he has the best birthday ever. He calls us at the shop and always wishes us luck for the race. Maybe we can get his truck in Victory Lane for him."