Brendan Gaughan, driver of the No. 10 International MAXX Force Diesel Ford F-150, started and finished second during last year's race at Bristol Motor Speedway. This year he heads to the fast half-mile track with more confidence and seeks to ...
Brendan Gaughan, driver of the No. 10 International MAXX Force Diesel Ford F-150, started and finished second during last year's race at Bristol Motor Speedway. This year he heads to the fast half-mile track with more confidence and seeks to improve his final position by one spot. Gaughan talks about aggressive racing and the uniqueness of the eastern Tennessee track.
IN LAST YEAR'S BRISTOL RACE, YOU EARNED YOUR CAREER BEST START AND FINISH. ARE YOU EXCITED TO GO BACK THIS YEAR? "Bristol has always been a track that I've just loved since I first went there. It's not a short track. It's Bristol. It's in it's own category. I like to use the joke, it's like calling Florida the east coast, Florida is not the east coast; it's Florida. It's on the east coast, but it's kind it's own category. Bristol is just one of those places that you love or you hate. And I've always liked it. I like it even more now since Bruton Smith redid the track. I could not believe it, but last year we ran second and we ran up high. It was a green-white-checkered restart and I actually went after Johnny Benson on the outside of turn one and up against the wall. So, it surprised me that the track actually could be better than it used to be. You can pass now without hitting people. You can pass on the outside; you can make a couple grooves out of it. We're actually going to take the same truck that I finished second in there with my South Point team. It's at Circle Bar Racing, it's truck 14 and it's got itself a nice Ford body put on it and we're going to go this year and take the same notes, the same shocks, the same springs and see if we can't put Roush Yates horsepower in it and let that be our difference."
HOW TO YOU PREPARE GOING TO A SHORT TRACK THAT YOU SAY IT'S NOT A SHORT TRACK? WHAT DO YOU DIFFERENTLY? "With Bristol, I'm the class clown anyways. It's not like I have some voodoo ritual before every race. I'm just kind of goofy. I don't have the whole game face, get out of my way, or need to be quiet for 30 minutes before a race. When you go to Bristol, you have to have a certain attitude that basically just says that this track is the Roman coliseum of race tracks. You've got to go there with the attitude of you're gonna get hit, you're gonna hit people. It's more so than a Mansfield, where it's just single file and the only way to pass is to bump people. At Bristol now, you can pass. You just have to be up on the wheel and aggressive and kind of have a mindset that this is your track. And I have that mindset about Bristol."
IS BRISTOL A RACE WHERE YOU HAVE TO WIN? DOES WINNING AT BRISTOL HAVE THE SAME PRESTIGE AS WINNING DAYTONA OR TALLADEGA? "It's a place I sure would love to win. In my Cup deal there, I actually ran a special paint scheme with The Punisher movie, with the big skull on the hood and I ran third all the day behind Rusty Wallace. I can't remember who led; it was somebody, Rusty and me. I ran third and I remember saying, 'If I can follow Rusty Wallace at Bristol, I'm doing something right.' Near the end of that race I finally thought, 'Hey, we could win this thing.' Yes, Bristol is definitely a track that you want to be able to say, 'I gotta win that.' They don't have a really cool trophy like the grandfather clock or the guitar or the Dover Monster. They don't have a cool trophy, but it's a Bristol trophy. When you've won there, you know that you've tamed a beast that's pretty unbelievable."
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO WIN AT BRISTOL? "In the Craftsman Truck Series nowadays pit strategy almost means nothing. People pit once. We've had a guy win a race in the last two years that didn't pit at all. The pit strategy thing, because how bad these Goodyear tires have been, it's a long lost art of this series. The key is to show-up there with a truck that can win, so you don't have to battle from the back. The MAXX Force team, the No. 10 Ford, we seem to make an art out of stopping five times and still getting in the top-10 and top-five. I don't know how Bryan Berry does it. I don't know how we do it, but we tend to get ourselves up into it but we have to make a bunch of stops. If we can ever have a day where we stop once, we could probably go out and win a race. So, I think the whole goal is the preparation before you get there, making sure that truck comes off the trailer prepared, you don't have to make any big, wild changes. You start the race, you stop once and you race for the win."
WHAT TYPE OF RACING SHOULD THE FANS EXPECT TO SEE? "It's Bristol. If you're telling a fan that knows anything about racing, they know what to expect at Bristol. This new Bristol even more so. It's wild with them being able to run side-by-side and two-wide. That is pretty impressive at the little bitty bullring. But, if you're trying to tell somebody that has never seen Bristol, this race track will spoil you. If you make this your first race ever, you're going to be spoiled forever because you can't watch another race and expect what you get at Bristol Motor Speedway. It's doesn't happen anywhere else in racing. It's that unique of a track. It's that special of a race track and somehow Bruton Smith got lucky and they built it that way and its just Bristol. You will see it a lot of passing with the Craftsman Truck Series, more than most. You will see a lot more aggressive race car driving and at Bristol, that's saying something. If you can say it's going to be more aggressive than normal. It's a fun place to go play."
WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR MIND ON A GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FINISH WHEN YOU'RE RUNNING SECOND? "That I can get through that guy whether I have to move him or not, I'm going to get there."
-credit: ford racing