LAS VEGAS - NASCAR Winston West regular Brendan Gaughan will try his hand at NASCAR Winston Cup racing with former Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Andy Graves in the CarsDirect.com 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race on March 5 at Las Vegas Motor ...
LAS VEGAS - NASCAR Winston West regular Brendan Gaughan will try his hand at NASCAR Winston Cup racing with former Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Andy Graves in the CarsDirect.com 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race on March 5 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Gaughan, a 24-year old Las Vegas native, is the full-time driver for Orleans Racing, which is located in Las Vegas Motor Speedway's Research and Development Center. The state-of-the art race shop is home to a full-time NASCAR Winston West team, part-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck team and the future home of a cutting-edge engine building complex.
"I'm looking forward to working with (co-owner) Bill (McAnally), Brendan and the entire team," said Graves, who spent two years as Winston Cup Champion Terry Labonte's crew chief. "When they asked me to help them set up the car and try to qualify for the Winston Cup race at Las Vegas, I saw an opportunity to work with a team that has proven itself to be championship caliber and ready to test itself at the Winston Cup level. Working with Orleans Racing also gives me a chance to stay in the NASCAR loop."
Graves, who joined Chip Ganassi's CART team this year after a 10-year history with Hendrick Motorsports, will assist the team with building its 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, advise them on race and qualifying setups and act as crew chief on race day.
"I feel extremely fortunate to have Andy Graves helping us," said Gaughan. "He was Terry Labonte's crew chief last year. This is a phenomenal opportunity that we have to work with someone so high up in the series.
"The confidence I have in my crew chief is a big benefit. No matter what call he makes it is going to seem like the right decision. For the team having someone like that is like having Michael Jordan on your basketball team. He makes you better. The crew will work hard and try to impress him."
The CarsDirect.com 400 will mark Gaughan's first entry in a points race in NASCAR's premier division. He will attempt to qualify his No. 62 NAPA Auto Parts/The Orleans Casino Chevrolet on The Orleans Pole Day, which is Friday, March 3.
"When Bill and I teamed up, we noticed that Winston West was not running with the Winston Cup race at Las Vegas," Gaughan said. "We had the time to prepare and felt we had the right people and contacts to do well. We raced the Winston Cup exhibition race in Japan. We realized we had done it once, and we would like to try it again."
Gaughan has logged a number of laps at Las Vegas Motor Speedway through previous NASCAR Winston West and Craftsman truck series races and as a driving instructor for the Richard Petty Driving Experience. His most recent accomplishment on the 1.5-mile superspeedway came in September of 1999 when he won the pole position and finished third in the Gold Coast 150 NASCAR Winston West race.
"We feel that, because I have thousands of laps at Las Vegas and we have someone like Andy Graves doing our setups and making our calls, I can qualify for this race," Gaughan said. "That is a loud statement, but we are only saying that because I have so much experience on this track. With the added benefit of having an all-star crew chief we have to improve. Because this is Las Vegas, and only because this is Las Vegas, we think we can stay on the lead lap for awhile."
Las Vegas Motor Speedway is owned and operated by Speedway Motorsports, Inc. (NYSE:TRK), a leading marketer and promoter of motorsports entertainment in the United States. In addition to LVMS, SMI owns and operates the following premiere facilities: Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Lowe's Motor Speedway at Charlotte, Sears Point Raceway, and Texas Motor Speedway. SMI also provides event food, beverage, and souvenir merchandising services through its Finish Line Events subsidiary, and manufactures and distributes smaller-scale, modified racing cars through its 600 Racing subsidiary.
For more information on Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the CarsDirect.com 400 visit the speedway's websites at www.lvms.com or www.gospeedway.com.