BRENDAN GAUGHAN (No. 77 Kodak/Jasper Dodge) NOTE: Gaughan, a 29-year-old Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender from Las Vegas, played basketball at Georgetown University for coach John Thompson and has attended Martinsville High School ...
BRENDAN GAUGHAN (No. 77 Kodak/Jasper Dodge)
NOTE: Gaughan, a 29-year-old Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender from Las Vegas, played basketball at Georgetown University for coach John Thompson and has attended Martinsville High School basketball practice the past three years. Gaughan talks about prep practice and his rookie Cup season.
"Coach (Troy) Wells at Martinsville High School called me three years ago. I think he knew I played at Georgetown. My PR people got a call saying they wanted me to come talk to the kids. It was 2002, and I was driving in the Craftsman Truck Series. I told him I'd love to come talk to the kids. I made a deal with the coach that I'd come talk to the team if he'd let me practice with them. He invites me back each year. I might even go to the football game tonight. One of the kids on the basketball team is the starting quarterback. I want to go see him play. There's no better sport in this country than high school football. I want to go see the kid throw. He's an athlete.
"I went to practice with the team last night and then did my five-minute mandatory college stay in school speech. I still love playing. Martinsville had the state championship AA team two or three years ago I think. Last year they made it to the quarters. I think they've got a heck of a team this year, and I still love to play. You don't get many chances to play on the road, and coach Wells always invites me so I go. If I wasn't so sore, I'd ask if I could go back tonight.
"We played five or six games last night. I'm absolutely not in shape to do that. My game involves beating up a lot of guys and trash talking. With kids like that I get along well. That's what I was accustomed to for four years at Georgetown. These kids look at me and don't expect a lot out of me. They see this short little white kid running up and down the court. I pull off my old Georgetown sweats and they ask me where I bought 'em. I told 'em I didn't buy 'em. They do a double take and then they see the cast on my ankle. After the second game coach Wells said to take a water break. Some kid said they didn't need one, but I sure did.
"I think his class showed up for the last two games and told 'em I was going to turn it on for the crowd. I hit a couple of game winners, but they said my last three jumpers didn't count because you couldn't slide a piece of paper under my feet. I don't care. They still went in.
"A lot of the kids are still there from the first time I went. I met a young man there this week I'm really proud of. He lost 67 pounds so he could play. He's a senior and he took it to heart. He's got some great skill. Get him to a junior college and he may be able to go somewhere some day.
Kevin Hamlin, he's one of my good friends. He's the Northwest Tour Champion in 2001 and 2002. He's moved to North Carolina trying to find a ride. He's a great young driver. He comes and hangs out. He was more of a crutch to help me walk out of the gym last night. I might have needed a little assistance. There are no pictures or videos. I maintain I walked on my own all the way to the car, but that's my story."
COMMENT ON RECENT STRING OF RACES
"I just saw somethings. In the chase for the championship (past five races) we're 15th. I didn't even know that. Somebody called me and told me. That's kinda cool. I'll take that. The four top Raybestos Rookie finishes (in the past four races) are a big deal. That was a goal at the beginning of the year. I don't know if we can catch Kasey Kahne now. That's kinda out of the question, but if we can finish these last five races as the top rookie that's big momentum."
COMMENT ON RUNNING AT MARTINSVILLE
"I've always said I hate running at short tracks period. I've won on a lot of them, but it's a moniker I kept because the first race I ever ran was a superspeedway. This place has never been real good to me. I've never really had a good finish here. I've had an opportunity and good runs, but never a good finish. I've got the greatest teammate in the world for this track -- Rusty Wallace -- and we're going to try to stick close to him. We need short tracks in this sport. I'd love to see another good three-quarter mile or another half-mile built somewhere."
WHAT WILL YOU DO HERE THE REST OF THIS RAINY DAY IF YOU DON'T GET ON THE TRACK?
"I'm going to hang out with my truck team as much as I can today. I'll take a ninth-place start for Steve Park in the truck series. Our qualifying efforts have been a little shady a few times this year. We've got a truck here we just fixed. We found a big problem with it and fixed it. We're really excited about the Orleans Dodge Ram this week. We found a very big mess up and were able to fix it. We think we've got a shot for something good here. He can still get top five in points. The way that Dodge started this year, to end in the top five in points would salvage this year."
WHAT WOULD SALVAGE THE YEAR FOR YOU?
"We still can gain a few more spots in the points. I'd love to go for all five, but if we can get two or three more top Raybestos rookie finishes, and I still feel like this team is good enough to catch a win. I've thought that all year and that hasn't changed. If we could do that, I'd be real happy."