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Gaughan Survives Rain, Side Trips To Win At Elkhart Lake

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, June 22 2014

Brendan Gaughan takes the checkered flag at Central Wisconsin's Road America on Saturday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Garry Eller)

Brendan Gaughan had trouble keeping his car on the track at times during Saturday’s Gardner Denver 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Road America. And each time he left the racing surface, he collected enough grass and weeds on his grill work to make a couple of very large salads.

But in the end, the off-road excursions played a helping hand in Gaughan getting his first NNS career victory as they put him on a winning pit stop cycle.

Gaughan, driving a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, held off an impressive charge from the back of the field to the front on a green/white/checkered restart by Alex Tagliani to get the victory.

It ended a 98-race drought for the Las Vegas driver.

“I can’t thank Richard Childress and (crew chief) Shane Wilson enough,” an emotional Gaughan said. “I tried to give this race away three times today, I was fully embarrassed and not focused enough, but RCR gives us great equipment and my team did not give up on me. This is such a great feeling after all the years of trying, we did it. I am so happy I don’t even know how to put it into words.”

To make the event at the beautiful 4-mile, 16-turn road circuit even more interesting, a large chunk of it was held in the rain.

Love that rain, Gaughan, who found himself off asphalt and into the grass three times, said.

“I love racing in the rain, it’s fun,” said Gaughan. “And when you’re good at it, it makes it even more fun.

“I haven’t smelled blood in a long time, that’s something I’ve been lacking lately, that killer attitude. When it started to rain, even without the wiper blade (was broken), I started to smell blood and said, ‘I’m coming.’

“It’s fun to watch guys who haven’t done it in the rain. They don’t understand the rain line, and fortunately for me, I did.”

Gaughan beat runner-up Alex Tagliani by .820 seconds.

Sam Hornish Jr. dominated the first half of the race, taking the lead on the first lap and holding it.

But when the rains moved in, Hornish made a couple of off-course miscues himself.

It was then veteran road racer Tagliani – who has raced, and still races, Indy cars and sports cars – who took over.

But on Lap 49 of the race, which was scheduled to go 50 laps, a caution came out. Before Tagliani could make it to the pits, he ran out of fuel and had to be pushed to pit road by a tow truck.

He restarted under the green/white/checkers 23rd.

But when the green flag dropped, the Canadian driver, who took on slick tires during his stop, began knocking off the cars in front of him. When Gaughan came out of the final turn on the final lap, Tagliani was right with him.

“It was pretty intense,” Tagliani, who was driving the No. 20 car of Team Penske, said. “The wet was tricky, but obviously we were good. Maybe I threw a bad spell on myself because I said it was impossible that I was going to win this race, like something’s going to happen, and then on the white flag, something happened (ran out of gas).

“It’s what it is. It’s not in the cards. You have to be quick, you have to have a good car and it has to be in the cards, and if it’s not, you just have to take whatever comes to you.”

Tagliani came into the race hoping to be the fourth driver to win from the pole in the last five NNS races at Road America, but came up one spot short.

NASCAR Nationwide Series Race – Gardner Denver 200 Fired Up by Johnsonville

Road America

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Saturday, June 21, 2014

1. (5) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 53, $46900.

2. (1) Alex Tagliani, Ford, 53, $47525.

3. (26) Kevin O’Connell, Chevrolet, 53, $30175.

4. (12) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 53, $31025.

5. (22) JJ Yeley, Dodge, 53, $28725.

6. (13) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 53, $22500.

7. (10) Andy Lally, Chevrolet, 53, $21550.

8. (25) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 53, $20225.

9. (11) Elliott Sadler, Toyota, 53, $19950.

10. (17) Mike Bliss, Toyota, 53, $20975.

11. (19) Matt Dibenedetto, Chevrolet, 53, $19600.

12. (4) Sam Hornish Jr., Toyota, 53, $22925.

13. (3) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 53, $19675.

14. (20) Kenny Habul, Toyota, 53, $19300.

15. (35) Carlos Contreras, Toyota, 53, $19875.

16. (6) Brian Scott, Chevrolet, 53, $19150.

17. (18) James Buescher #, Toyota, 53, $19250.

18. (9) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 53, $18950.

19. (7) Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, 53, $18875.

20. (23) Eric McClure, Toyota, 53, $19525.

21. (14) Ryan Reed #, Ford, 53, $18750.

22. (27) Ryan Sieg #, Chevrolet, Accident, 52, $18705.

23. (36) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, Accident, 52, $18670.

24. (8) Justin Marks, Chevrolet, 52, $18610.

25. (16) Dakoda Armstrong #, Ford, 51, $19040.

26. (2) Dylan Kwasniewski #, Chevrolet, 49, $19255.

27. (15) Trevor Bayne, Ford, Accident, 41, $18470.

28. (28) Tanner Berryhill #, Dodge, 39, $12440.

29. (31) Bobby Reuse, Chevrolet, Engine, 34, $12405.

30. (34) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, Transmission, 22, $18660.

31. (29) Tommy Joe Martins #, Dodge, Transmission, 17, $12315.

32. (21) Stanton Barrett, Ford, Accident, 10, $18270.

33. (38) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, Transmission, 4, $12240.

34. (24) Ryan Ellis, Chevrolet, Ignition, 2, $12220.

35. (33) Carl Long, Chevrolet, Rear Hub, 2, $12184.

36. (30) Jeff Green, Toyota, Vibration, 1, $11255.

37. (32) Tim Schendel, Chevrolet, Water Pump, 1, $11235.

38. (37) Kevin Lepage, Dodge, Rear Gear, 0, $17216.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 76.6 mph.

Time of Race: 02 Hrs, 48 Mins, 03 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.820 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 4 for 10 laps.

Lead Changes: 7 among 4 drivers.

Lap Leaders: A. Tagliani 0; S. Hornish Jr. 1-13; B. Gaughan 14-16; S. Hornish Jr. 17-27; T. Bayne 28; S. Hornish Jr. 29; A. Tagliani 30-48; B. Gaughan 49-53.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): S. Hornish Jr. 3 times for 25 laps; A. Tagliani 1 time for 19 laps; B. Gaughan 2 times for 8 laps; T. Bayne 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 10 in Points: R. Smith – 516; E. Sadler – 506; C. Elliott # – 505; T. Dillon # – 475; B. Scott – 458; T. Bayne – 453; B. Gaughan – 410; C. Buescher # – 388; J. Buescher # – 388; L. Cassill – 368.

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, June 22 2014
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