Continued from part 1 Q: Last year you were very close to a win, but it never happened. Was there ever a point where you got frustrated or wondered if you would get to victory lane again? Park: You're exactly right. There were three or four...
Continued from part 1
Q: Last year you were very close to a win, but it never happened. Was there ever a point where you got frustrated or wondered if you would get to victory lane again?
Park: You're exactly right. There were three or four opportunities that we had to win a race, and something always happened. Even in California, we knew that we had a truck that could win that race. In the back of your mind, you hear people talking about they hear noises in the truck, just wondering what was going to happen to keep us from winning another race. Everything worked in our favor. We've worked hard over the winter and at the start of this year to limit our opportunities to lose races and to capitalize on them. That's what we did that Friday night in California.
Q: Brendan, how proud are you of Steve?
Gaughan: I'm tired of hearing the same question, and I'm hoping this is one of the last times we get to hear the question of the injury or this or that. I'm tired of it -- not as much as Steve is of it, I know. But I'm tired of it because when we called a year-and-a-half ago to see if Steve would be available to drive when I left, the first name on top of the list was Steve Park. And people said it then. I've heard it from fans. I've heard it from media. I've heard it from even officials and people, that 'Oh, are you sure he is alright?' To finally be able to look at everybody and stick your tongue out at them and go 'Thank you guys. Now leave us alone. Let's go win six races this year.' I'm proud of Steve because he had to put up with a lot. And I know how it is nowadays listening to the media and listening when you start believing what they are writing. It means a lot because this team finally got back on track. And it means a lot to have Steve get it because he put up with a lot last year that he shouldn't have had to deal with. I'm glad it was him first.
Q: Brendan, talk about what it is like being a team based in Las Vegas. Is it has difficult as it seems logistically or are there some hidden advantages to being so far outside the Charlotte hub?
Gaughan: There are many logistical issues with it. But that's the key is how well prepared you are for them. The Orleans Racing Team has been dealing with it since 2000. We know the logistics of it, and we are pretty darn good at it. Yes, there are big logistical issues. Fortunately for us, we've gotten really darn good at it. There are actually advantages. This year, the schedule doesn't give us as big of an advantage as last year. We like it when the teams have to go from like last year from New Hampshire to California to Las Vegas all in back-to-back-to-back weeks. That helps us. It means that everybody has to learn how to do what we do, and they're not prepared for it. One of the biggest advantages is...finding guys is a little bit of an issue, but keeping the employees you have is much less of an issue. We have guys that worked with Steve at Dale Earnhardt Inc. working out here because they were tired of Nextel Cup. We have guys that worked all over the country for all sorts of Cup or other teams. They want to come to us. I don't necessarily hire those guys. We have ourselves now a great core group of employees, and they don't leave. They like to be here. They want to be here. They like the drivers. They like my dad. They like the way he owns the team, and we're a little bit more family-oriented. So the guys that have been other places realize it and go 'Wow.' They don't want to leave and that's become an advantage for us.
Q: The Busch teams in the midst of this California-Mexico-Las Vegas swing had to switch out cars a couple of times in Texas. Is that what you guys have to do when you have back-to-back races on the East Coast.
Gaughan: I'm not going to let out our secrets. I'm not going to let everybody know how we do it. But there are ways. We are more prepared. We have teams right now changing things here in Las Vegas. We have teams that went to Mexico City with a back-up car that was a Las Vegas car hoping they didn't get into a wreck. There are ways to logistically do it, and be able to bring the correct piece to every race and not have to hope that you don't have a problem. Like I said, I'm not going to let my secrets out because we are extremely well prepared for it. But there are a lot of times that our semis don't travel home.
Q: Was the Orleans Racing team approached by any Busch teams about using your shop this week with them being gone from the East Coast for so long?
Gaughan: Would the three teams that are in my new building be any proof of that? The Orleans Racing Team is run almost like an old desert team. We share. We help teams. We take care of people that need help, and we always do that. A lot of teams called and asked if they could borrow space or borrow whatever. Anything that we have, they are welcome to use our space to help them out as much as we can. We're trying to do a job also, and we're working. But we have space for them, and if I can help them out, I'd be more than happy to.
Q: The NASCAR schedule seems to be moving west. There's talk of adding Seattle, going to Mexico again and maybe Canada. Does it make sense for teams based in Charlotte to maybe have satellite shops out toward Las Vegas or centrally located in the United States?
Gaughan: The satellite shop idea is tough. Walker Evans tried that years ago, back when Steve drove a couple of races for Walker. He had a satellite shop in Mooresville. The satellite shop idea is a lot of money. You increase a lot of costs by doing that. There are better ways to do it. I have an engine shop -- Kroyer Racing Engines -- that builds great engines. I don't need to go spend the money and build a second engine shop back east. You just have to learn how to do it, how to shuttle your stuff around the country and how to make it a feasible unit.
Q: Once you get used to doing stuff in your shop, you don't really want to do it in another shop?
Gaughan: You don't want to have a whole second place. Think about the costs. Think about the extra employees. If one guy starts a car back here and finishes a car on the east coast, you never want that. You'd never know if the nuts and bolts were tightened.
Q: Brendan, this was your first win as the General Manager of Orleans Racing. How does it compare to the feeling of winning as a driver?
Gaughan: That win was pretty darn big. To be able to look at my dad and make the joke that I made -- that my dad had the team for a year and didn't do anything, and I was only back for three months and we got one. To be able to say that is all fun and games, but it means a lot to the team. It means a lot to Steve. It means a lot to all those guys who were put through a tough year last year. I think every press release we add a different stupid title to my name because that's the style of the Orleans Racing team -- having fun. It means the world. Steve did it for Jasper. I promised the Jasper employees that I would get them a win. I didn't describe how. I just said I would get them a win. To be able to make that decision -- a lot of that, I have to give a special shout out to Ricky Cobb of RC Decals. Doug Bawel of Jasper flat out said 'Don't worry about it. Do the black American Racing truck, let Steve run the 62 Orleans Racing Dodge. Don't worry about it.' Because Ricky Cobb had the ability to do what they call vinyl wraps now, Ricky Cobb stayed up until 3 in the morning right before it left for California, putting the yellow vinyl on Steve's truck. Those decisions were made because we do have a sponsor in Jasper and we do have a sponsor in American Racing Wheels. So we made those decisions at the last minute to rewrap these trucks. If we had to paint them, we would have had a blue Orleans truck and a yellow Jasper truck, and that was it. But we were able to swap yellows and put black, and all these things and those decisions were made -- they cost me a little bit of money, but in the end, I think it's going to pay off pretty big.
Q: So are you going to sponsor Rick Cobb (a Vegas racer) in the Super Late Models now?
Gaughan: (Laughing) No, Ricky doesn't have time to drive Super Late Models now that the Orleans Racing team is doing these wraps. So, Ricky Cobb will not be able to race this year.
Q: Brendan, a lot has changed in your driving career in a year. There was a lot of hoop-la when you came to Vegas a year ago in the 77 Cup car. You have said that you are happy with your current situation, but when you go to the Speedway this weekend, is there going to be any disappointment, wishing that you were still there?
Gaughan: Nope. One you are assuming something that may not be true. I don't even know if I am going to go through the garages. We're working. We've got 'Lone Star' back for my primary for Atlanta. Steve's going to take the truck that he just won in California with and that's going to Atlanta. We're working on those. We're working on back-ups. We're working on Martinsville test trucks. The Orleans team is going to be working all weekend. If I make it to the garages, it's not a priority. If I do though, I'm going to got there with a big old smile because I get to show all those guys that -- Steve can probably attest to it, a lot of times it is not very fun -- and they can come over and see my shop with hoods hanging from rafters and banners hanging from all the wins we've got, Steve's new banner, and all our Craftsman tool boxes laying on our trophy shelf. They can come over here, and I get to have a big legit smile. Steve will be here with the fans and autographs on Friday, and everybody can look at us and know one thing -- we're actually having fun, not faking it.
Q: Two years ago you would have walked through the Cup garage because you wanted to get to Cup. Are you not pursuing that now? What if someone offered you a deal with a legit team?
Gaughan: It would have to be a really big deal right now. Look at the way Steve won that race. He drove his tail off, and when it came down to it, I got to be a real teammate. I got to let him draft. I got to try to push him into a corner. It was more fun for me once he had that lead for me to try to do anything that I could to help. That's what teammates do. To get me away from the Orleans Team right now, it's going to have to be something pretty darn big. And I've had some pretty good offers.
Yeah, a couple of years ago I would be in the garage just walking around. I'll probably still go to the garage because I want to go say hi to Robby (Gordon) and Jimmie (Johnson), some of my buddies that I'm friends with and give them a hard time for things. Otherwise, we're going to be working. I'm trying to be co-interim-part-time general manager.
Q: It seems like you are enjoying the General Manager role at Orleans Racing.
Gaughan: (Laughing) No. I like Park's deal -- he can have the GM deal. He has the old job, and the old job isn't bad. The new job -- I've got a guy named Mike Lesle out here, helping me 'general manage.' He's an old off-roader. He's actually the GM right now. But still a lot of the decisions are mine. I don't want this job. All General Manager applications -- we are open, willing and available. General Managers all across the country drop off a resume, we're looking. Because the one we've got right now isn't good -- it's me.
Nobody wants to ask who's going to win 'Most Popular Driver' this year?
Q: Who's going to win 'Most Popular Driver' this year?
Gaughan: (Laughing) Me. It's my turn -- Steve won last year.
Q: Brendan, are you still looking at 18 races?
Gaughan: At the moment.
Q: Maybe, more?
Gaughan: Maybe more.
Q: Is that just so you can get in front of more fans to get votes win 'Most Popular Driver'
Gaughan: Well, now, yeah. With Steve winning the award last year and winning California, it's put some pressure on me to go back and win the thing. I got to get a win, and try to beat him on that 'Most Popular Driver' thing.