BRENDAN GAUGHAN (No. 77 Kodak Easy Share Dodge) HAS THERE BEEN A BIG ADJUSTMENT FOR YOU FROM TRUCKS TO CUP? "The aero is different. The Craftsman Truck program was an old-fashioned Cup car that we had to make have good aerodynamics. All it...
BRENDAN GAUGHAN (No. 77 Kodak Easy Share Dodge)
HAS THERE BEEN A BIG ADJUSTMENT FOR YOU FROM TRUCKS TO CUP?
"The aero is different. The Craftsman Truck program was an old-fashioned Cup car that we had to make have good aerodynamics. All it was was a car with bad aero. It's almost easier to drive the cars sometimes. The biggest adjustment is there is a little bit more horsepower, so you enter the corners a little faster. You don't slow down as quickly. Other than that we're racing against great racecar drivers that we've probably raced against at some point in our lives. You go back to me and Jimmie Johnson, Casey Mears, we've raced against each other a long time. I'm just racing against the same guys some days at a different venue with a lot more people watching and a lot more microphones in your face. I'm a ham, and I enjoy that sort of stuff."
ARE YOU RACING PENSKE DODGES YET?
"We still don't have a Penske car. All our stuff is brand new chassis. We don't have any chassis left from what they had before. They're all brand new Hopkins chassis at the moment. The Penske fab shop is building our chassis and is getting them done, but it isn't an overnight thing. That's why we're Penske-Jasper. We're going to have that advantage. It's just going to take us awhile to get that information in the door. We now have Dodge engineers sending us to the wind tunnel. The Jasper team had four wind tunnel dates last year. We now have had 11 already up to this point. Those are the advantages being with Dodge and Penske, joining the Penske-Jasper deal. It's not going to happen overnight It's taken us a little time, but now it's starting to pay off. Bristol was one, and here at Texas we expect it to be another. The Punisher car was actually the one we raced at Rockingham, so that was the only repeat car we've had and look what happens. I made this joke and Doug Bawel with Jasper loved this one. In racing, this is the only business where brand new isn't necessarily the best. It's kind of like a Jasper remanufactured engine. It's always better the second time around. He loved that line."
ARE THE LONGER RACES IN CUP AN ADVANTAGE?
"I'm in a lot better shape, and I feel I have more of an athletic background. All of these drivers are athletes, but with some of the athletic stuff I've done and some of the gentleman I've had a chance to work with in my life, I've always felt that the fourth quarter was an advantage for me. Buddy Baker is making sure that's one of my advantages, keeping in shape. I'm going to continue that trend so I can be ready for the end of the day."
DO YOU WISH YOU HAD THE PUNISHER AGAIN THIS WEEK?
"You know, the paint scheme was the coolest thing on the racetrack. Hanging out with Tom Jane the movie star was really cool. Even though we don't have the same paint scheme, I still think we've got the same guy behind the wheel. I'm going to try to keep that nickname as long as possible, especially for as little respect as we were given after running up front. Maybe I'll need to use that moniker and be a little more aggressive some days. I didn't get pushed around last week. I only got hit once. I'm watching guys give Jeff Gordon a spot, and Jeff Gordon has earned a lot of respect in this business, but we were faster than Jeff Gordon. We were faster than a lot of guys, and they wouldn't give me the same respect they were giving other drivers. It was somewhat disappointing. The Kodak team hasn't been running well, and we haven't been hiding the fact that we haven't been running well, but we gave everybody respect. We gave them the one spot they needed so they could race clean. We worked hard on making sure we didn't get in the way. When you give that respect you're supposed to be able to get something back in return. Some days you have to go take it back."
ARE THEY ASKING YOU FOR ADVICE AT TEXAS?
"They don't ask me for advice. They know I'm too dumb to know how to get around this place anyway. We didn't have that great a test at Vegas. We qualified eighth, but that was a lot of pride involved with that qualifying run. The Penske-Jasper guys we knew we were hoping to do better. This race track, we feel like we're ready to do better. We had a lot better test here. We have a lot more wind tunnel time from Dodge at this point. We feel we are a lot more prepared to go fast here than we were at Vegas, so we don't have to worry about the disappointment side. These are the type of tracks we dominated last year with the Orleans Racing Team. We had a big lead at Michigan. Vegas we won. Charlotte we ran second. Fontana second. We had a flat tire or we would have won that day. We've always done well on big tracks. I like big tracks. I don't know what Bruton Smith did to the ground around here, but for some reason this is like hallowed ground for me. My mom's ranch is about 40 miles southwest of here. My mom and sister (Paula and Katie) are in town, and cowboys are what my family are all about. My mom and sister own cutting horses. My dad owns bucking horses and bucking bulls. We grew up on ranches and hanging around rodeos and stuff like that. Maybe that's the difference here. I just needed a few more cowboys around."
ARE YOU A COWBOY?
"My dad always asks me before every race for the last seven years. 'Tell me who's a cowboy?' I never rodeoed. Riding a bucking bull or a bucking horse ain't difficult. Anybody can do it. Just try getting off the dang thing. Rodeos and racing have been in my family for a long time. We've got a ranch out here in Weatherford. Some days you just need a few more cowboy hats around to make you feel good."