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Brendan Gaughan will be part-time in NASCAR next season

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Brendan Gaughan‘s career as a full-time NASCAR driver has come to an end after the conclusion of the 2017 Xfinity season.

But the 42-year-old veteran isn’t done with NASCAR.

Gaughan told Racer.com some of his career plans prior to Saturday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, his last race in Richard Childress Racing’s No. 62 Chevrolet.

Those plans include a second season of competing in the four Cup restrictor-plate races next season for Beard Motorsports. He earned a top 10 in the July Daytona race this year, his first in Cup since 2004.

Gaughan said he could run in some road course races as well as some “here or there things.”

“I am very happy with going back to a part-time NASCAR role,” Gaughan said. “This has been 20 years of my life – it’s a lot work and it’s a lot of effort and it’s been a great 20 years. … It’s been a hell of a ride but I’m at the point now where I’m happy. I really wanted to get a win this year and that kind of stinks that we didn’t.”

Gaughan piloted the No. 62 for RCR the last four seasons, earning two victories in 2014 and making the playoffs this season. He was eliminated after the first round.

The No. 62 was one of five full-time cars RCR fielded in the Xfinity Series this season. Gaughan finished 10th in the standings with two top fives and eight top 10s.

The end of his season was marked by an altercation between Gaughan, Ross Chastain and both driver’s crews after the race at Texas Motor Speedway. 

Gaughan, a former basketball player at Georgetown University, has competed in all three of NASCAR’s national series since debuting in the Camping World Truck Series in 1997.

He earned eight victories in a Truck in 217 starts.

His four Cup starts next season will bring his career total to 58. His only full-time Cup year was 2004 when he drove the No. 77 co-owned by Roger Penske and finished 24th in the standings.

“Every year I almost retire,” Gaughan told NBC Sports in 2016. “But it’s always been the same strategy in my eyes. If I can’t win races, I don’t want to be here.”

The Las Vegas native also has multiple business ventures and a family with two young sons to take care of.

“I don’t want to be one of those racers from the ’70s and ’80s where (their kids) said they never saw their dad,” Gaughan said.

Brendan Gaughan on issue with Ross Chastain: ‘I finally just had enough’

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Brendan Gaughan admits  he could have handled his disagreement with Ross Chastain after Saturday night’s Xfinity race differently but said Sunday “at this point in my life, I’m kind of to the (point of) don’t care.’’

Gaughan and Chastain were involved in a scuffle after the race. Both were called to the NASCAR hauler and met with series officials.

Gaughan deflected questions about the scuffle after leaving the hauler. Sunday morning, he spoke about the incident on the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio “Fantasy Racing Preview” show he co-hosts.

“Texas is tough,’’ Gaughan said on the show. “With the night race, the groove narrowed down. It isn’t the first issue that we’ve had and the first issue that others have had (with Chastain), and I finally just had enough. Should I have done something differently? Maybe, but at this point in my life I’m kind of to the (point of) don’t care.’’

Chastain said after the race that issues started when he and Gaughan were racing together.

“There was a slow car we were passing on the backstretch and (Gaughan) tried to split the middle,’’ Chastain said. “I wasn’t going to let him because it’s so much track position, there was clean track in front of us. We stayed side-by-side into (Turn) 3. I tried to arc from the bottom, and he tried to pinch me.

“I got really loose, saved it. All good. From then on, he was out to wreck me. My spotter could tell. (Gaughan) tried to get me in (Turns) 1 and 2.

“That’s just not acceptable. The speeds we’re going, we’ve seen guys get upside down in the catch fence on purpose before. I do not want to collect on my life insurance policy at 24 years old. That was my biggest thing in the (NASCAR) trailer, that I was upset with that needed to be taken care of.’’

Chastain said Gaughan approached him as he was exiting his car behind pit road after the race.

“I was just getting out of the car and was sitting on the door and was getting ready to swing my legs out and there he was,’’ Chastain said of Gaughan. “He just came right at me with his guys. There were just swings from that point on.’’

Said Gaughan on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “These millennials, they love to talk and text. I believe in this. This was taught to me by Butch Miller and Parnelli Jones, by some of the old greats, that if you have a problem, you make sure you get eye-to-eye contact, let them know you’ve got a problem, let them know it was intentional, accidental, whatever.’’

Gaughan said he’s heard from other competitors after the incident.

“I’ve got a lot of text messages from a lot of our peers that seem to be happy,’’ Gaughan said.

“There’s a lot of guys that don’t see eye-to-eye with Ross.’’

Chastain admits he might not be the most popular in the garage but also notes he’s not going after a popularity title.

“I race hard,’’ Chastain said. “I understand that. I know I make drivers mad. I know I make crew chiefs mad, guys thinking that I don’t get out of the way enough. It’s really hard out there to get out of the way. It’s hard for me to do that and go back to (sponsor) Flex Seal and tell them I did 100 percent and I tried to get the best finish.’’

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Big wreck brings out red flag late in race at Talladega; 17 cars involved

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With just 16 laps to go, a major wreck prompted NASCAR to throw the red flag for cleanup in the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

The 17-car pileup seemed to begin when David Ragan lost control of his No. 38 Ford, triggering havoc in virtually every direction.

Six playoff-eligible drivers were involved: Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth.

“(Ragan) ended up just parked in front of us,” Stenhouse told NBC. “We felt we had a car that was capable of contending for a win. It’s a bummer we didn’t get the win. … Just wasn’t our day.”

Added Kyle Busch, “Just never saw it coming. Unfortunately, we got caught up in the mess, none of our doing. We’ll just have to go on and go to Kansas.”

Added Truex, “I tried to get in a hole that was closing up at the wrong time. I got into the 38 in the right rear and it all got squirelly. We had nothing to lose today, but at the same time you don’t want to be the person that causes others problems. I’ve never been that guy here before, but today it looks like it was. I just wish I didn’t make that mistake. Bad judgment. I should have been more patient.”

Non-playoff drivers involved included pole-sitter Dale Earnhardt Jr. (who only had minor damage and was able to continue on), along with Austin Dillon, Landon Cassill, Michael McDowell, Brendan Gaughan, Matt DiBenedetto, Ragan, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard, Ty Dillon and Danica Patrick.

The race was red-flagged for 12 minutes, 30 seconds before resuming under caution.

Jimmie Johnson complained that NASCAR officials gave his team approval to work on the car on pit road, but it was subsequently sent to the garage for doing so (repairs aren’t permitted under the red flag), leaving Johnson to question the call.

Preliminary entry lists for NASCAR at Talladega

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NASCAR makes its return trip to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend with the Cup and Camping World Truck Series.

The Xfinity Series is off this week.

The Cup Series holds the Alabama 500, the second race of the Round of 12 in the playoffs. The Truck Series competes in the Fred’s 250, its first playoff elimination race.

Here are the entry lists for both races.

Cup – Alabama 500

Forty cars are entered.

J.J. Yeley will driver the No. 7 Chevrolet for Tommy Baldwin Racing. Brendan Gaughan is entered in the No. 75 Chevrolet for Beard Motorsports.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the last race at Talladega in May after a last-lap pass of Kyle Busch. He beat Jamie McMurray and Busch to the finish.

This race was won last year by Joey Logano after he led 45 laps. He beat Brian Scott and Denny Hamlin.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – Fred’s 250

There are 32 trucks entered. No full-time Cup drivers are entered.

This race was won last year by Alabama native Grant Enfinger, who led 45 of that race’s 94 laps.

He beat Spencer Gallagher, Timothy Peters and Rico Abreu.

Click here for the entry list.

Ryan Reed advances in Xfinity playoffs after intense battle with Brendan Gaughan

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CONCORD, North Carolina — Brendan Gaughan could see his playoff stakes in his rear-view mirror and on the scoring pylon.

“I’m a driver that pays attention to things,” Gaughan said. “It’s not like it’s not sitting there in front of my face.”

Ryan Reed was one spot behind him on the track, but one spot ahead of Gaughan in the playoff standings.

Behind Reed was Brandon Jones, Gaughan’s teammate at Richard Childress Racing and his last, best chance to advance to the second round of the Xfinity playoffs. If Jones passed Reed, Gaughan was in.

Those were the stakes for the last 10 laps of Saturday’s rain-delayed race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I knew (Jones) wanted that spot as bad as I wanted him to not have the spot,” Reed said. “I know him and Brendan are friends. He wanted to give him that gift. But obviously, I raced my guts out. That’s probably the hardest five laps I’ve ever driven in a race car.”

But the gift never arrived.

When the checkered flag fell on the Drive for the Cure 300, Gaughan finished 11th and was eliminated. Reed placed 12th and advanced to the second round for the second time.

Almost 50 laps earlier, Reed thought his night was over.

After a long night of battling Gaughan, Reed’s No. 16 Ford was running 22nd after becoming extremely loose and falling through the field. Gaughan sat 14th.

“Our setup, we would go really free on the long run,” said Reed, who thought he had a top-12 car on short runs. “It’s kind of like a light switch, once we seemed like we got that right rear (tire) at a certain temperature it was just gone.”

Reed was saved by a caution, courtesy of oil left on the track by the No. 52 of Joey Gase with 40 laps to go.

“There’s our gift,” Reed told his team over the radio.

A two-time Daytona winner, the 24-year-old Reed believes playoff races come down to “one or two moments where you’ve got to lay it all out on the line.”

The moment that ensured Reed would advance to the Round of 8 came with 17 to go. Reed was chasing Gaughan in 12th when they both came upon William Byron, who was dropping through the field on older tires after staying out the previous caution.

Exiting Turn 2, Gaughan dove beneath Byron. He left just enough room for Reed to squeeze between them.

“That was my best shot, and I honestly thought I cleared them both,” Reed said. “(Gaughan) did a real gnarly slide job down into (Turn) 3 and he did a heck of a job driving that thing to keep him in front of me.”

But Gaughan couldn’t track down Elliott Sadler for 10th and Jones couldn’t get to Reed.

Gaughan joined Blake Koch, Jeremy Clements and Michael Annett in being eliminated from title contention.

“Would have loved to have a caution,” Gaughan said. “That would have been awesome to have a late-race restart on that one. I’d have paid money for that.”

A “relieved” Reed and the remaining playoff drivers kick off the Round of 8 on Oct. 21 at Kansas Speedway.

“I’m going to enjoy this off week,” Reed said. “It’s kind of rude what they do honestly the way they schedule an off week. Because if you don’t advance, you’ve got a long time to think about it. So I’m glad I can think about going into Kansas and competing for a championship and having fun.”