Brendan Gaughan

What Drivers Said after Talladega Cup race

Leave a comment

Ryan Blaney – winner: “I just kind of blocked, just trying to block the best we could. Ride the top, ride the bottom. (Erik Jones) got to my outside and I tried to go up there to slow him down and I’m not sure, I don’t know three-wide, I hate that I hit him, but just kind of trying to beat and bang to the line and things like that. We just edged it out, but I’m really proud of this whole Menards/Sylvania Ford Mustang team. It’s been a cool year so far and I’m really excited to get our first win of the year at a cool place. Thank you everybody for coming. I appreciate it you sticking around. That was a lot of fun.”

What was it like saving fuel:  “We were riding there. We came back in and topped off and we were just riding around until maybe 12 (laps) to go. I was waiting for Kevin (Harvick) to kind of go, but he had to save more than I did, so we just kind of had to get going. You’re just biding your time and hoping you saved enough.  There’s enough information in there nowadays where you do save enough, but it was a lot of fun. Thank you everybody for coming out. I appreciate it.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – finished second: “We were so close there at the end. It was hard all day trying to break up the Penske cars and then there at the end, all the blue ovals were together. But, our No. 47 NOS Energy Drink Camaro ZL1 1LE was really fast all day. The boys brought a good one. I thought we had a shot there at the end, it just didn’t work out. But, all-in-all, a solid day. Really cool to see all the support of the fans that are here for Bubba (Wallace). That was a really special moment at the beginning of the race. We came up one spot short – we’ll go get them next week!”

Aric Almirola – finished third: “I thought we had a shot to get our Smithfield Ford Mustang in Victory Lane. We had a really good car and our strategy was to stay out of trouble all day and be there at the end, and we were there at the end. It was close, but we just couldn’t get it done. I’m proud of all my guys on this team. We had a great week last week at Miami with a top five and leave here at Talladega with another top five, so we’ll keep building on that and it looks like the ball is going in the right direction for us.”

Denny Hamlin – finished fourth: “We had a good Camry, we just ran out of fuel there at the end and had to pit with just a few laps to go. But luckily, the caution came out and some other guys in front of us ran out of gas so we were able to get a few more positions and race to the finish. Overall, it was a good day and our car had good speed. Got into the wall there early in the race and we were able to rebound from that. The Talladega spring race hasn’t always been the best one for us so we’ll take this fourth-place finish and get outta here.”

Erik Jones – finished fifth: “Yeah it was good. We kind of rode around today and just tried to stay clean – stay out of trouble – and give ourselves a chance there at the end, and that’s what we did. We got a fortunate yellow there after we had to pit for fuel. We got relined up and gave ourselves an opportunity. We had the momentum. We had the run in the end. The 12 (Ryan Blaney) kind of came up on us there. He moved us up the track, which in turn, kind of got us turned into the fence. It’s superspeedway racing. He’s doing what he has to win; I’m doing what I have to win, and it didn’t play out in our favor, so at least we were there and had a shot to win one of these things. They aren’t easy to win by any means, so it was nice to be up there.”

Chris Buescher – finished sixth: “Not a bad run for our Fastenal Ford Mustang and our team. Lots of excitement throughout the race at different areas and I obviously wanted to replay the end to do a little bit better. At the end of the day it was a good run for us.” 

Alex Bowman – finished seventh: “Figuring out you are a couple laps short on fuel while leading a speedway inside 15 to go is not very much fun. We took the lead there and our fuel mileage number plummeted farther than we thought it would be. We thought we were good and then all of a sudden, we weren’t good. Led a bunch and had to give up the lead to try to make it there at the end. I saved enough once I gave up the lead, but so bummed. We had such a good car and definitely had a shot at winning. It is just one of those deals. Really appreciative of everyone at Valvoline and Hendrick Motorsports. P7 isn’t the end of the world, but man giving up the lead like that is a bummer.”

John Hunter Nemechek – finished eighth: “We had a really great run in our No. 38 Death Wish Coffee Ford Mustang today. I really thought we had a shot at it at the end there, but I’m still proud of our entire team’s efforts. When we fired off, we were kind of tight, and then we had that tire go down in the second stage, but we managed to come back from it and battled into the top 10 by the end. I wish we would have won that thing, but a P8 finish at Talladega is still good for us and I want to thank everyone on the team for their support.”

Kurt Busch – finished ninth: “Proud of our effort today for everyone who works on this Monster Energy Chevy. We chipped away at adjustments all day, having to overcome a really loose handling race car. Top-10 is a solid effort! Gotta zig instead of zag next time!”

William Byron – finished 11th: “We had a shot there at the win with about 29 laps to go and just got a push from (Joey) Logano in the corner. I don’t know why it got loose there but it did. We lost our track position and then really just fought to get back from there and tried to save fuel at the same time. We pitted with two to go to get some extra fuel and we made a pretty good charge to the front there in the third lane. We had a good number of cars to the inside but ultimately finished 11th. It would have been nice to finish top 10 but we did finish a superspeedway race in one piece which is nice. I thought we had some great speed at times and great opportunities to lead the race. We just have to build on that and continue to get better. I feel like these races are always unpredictable but at the same time there is skill involved. We did a decent job of controlling the skill part we just have to keep working.”

Ty Dillon – finished 12th: “Our GEICO Camaro was solid today. We had a strategy there at the end to save fuel to make sure we were good to the checkered. I stumbled a little bit on the final restart, but we had just enough fuel to make it. You just have to be in the right line at the right time at the end of these things. We got filed out on the bottom, but still brought home a 12th-place finish. I’m really proud of our result. We needed that and we will keep truckin’ along.”

Jimmie Johnson – finished 13th: “I’m obviously very proud of our sport, the drivers and crew members that wanted to stand up today and stand next to Bubba Wallace. That’s really the moral of this story. A lot of people reached out to me in the morning with ideas, wanting to do something like the video we made a few weeks ago. I certainly have been involved in playing a role in trying to help organize, get things executed and done. This is really a driver initiative. Many drivers chipped in. Kevin Harvick had the idea of pushing Bubba’s car down the front stretch to the front of the field, have the teams follow. I’m happy to play a role in it. I want to. I know I need to. I feel like to see the garage area stand up as they have, as well, in the last few weeks, then again today, is just sending a very strong message. I’m very proud of our sport.”

Bubba Wallace – finished 14th: “This is probably the most badass moment right here. It’s been tough. It’s been hell. Well, I wouldn’t say hell; it’s just been hectic you know, carrying this weight, this burden. I wouldn’t really say burden, either. I’m proud to stand where I’m at and carry a new face. Look at this (turns around to face crowd to ask) is this the first time you’re here? From Atlanta? (cheers from fans) That is so cool! The sport is changing.

“The deal that happened yesterday, sorry I’m not wearing my mask, but I wanted to show whoever it was that you’re not going to take away my smile and I’m going to keep on going. I’ve been a part of this sport for a really long time. I’m still kind of a rookie. I’m starting to figure this stuff out. We had a good race going today in our Victory Junction Chevrolet. But man, I know I should have won that damn race. We ran out of gas. The stars didn’t align for us completely, but all in all, we won today. The pre-race deal was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to witness in my life. From all the supporters. From drivers and crew members. Everybody here. The badass fan base; thank you guys for coming out here.

“This is truly incredible and I’m proud to be a part of this sport. Like I said earlier, I’ve got a long way to go. And we’ll keep on trucking. Another top 15 for us. We’ll take it. And, we’ll just go on to Pocono, right? I’m still smiling. I’ve got a long week ahead of me; probably a couple of weeks. Probably a couple of months, but I’ll be ready for Pocono, though.”

Ryan Preece – finished 15th: “That was definitely a crazy day at Talladega Superspeedway in our No. 37 Kroger Chevrolet. We had nose damage early on in the race, and that caused us to use a little bit more fuel than the rest of the field during the long green flag run at the end. We got put in a position where we needed to pit early, then the caution came out after we pit. However, we had a really fast Kroger Chevrolet and were able to run in the front for most of the race and even lead a few laps, and to be able to finish P15 after the issues at the end is something, we can still be proud of. We need some positive momentum to continue turning the season around from our bad luck at the start and this is really going to help.”

Joey Logano – finished 17th: “We had a really fast MoneyLion Ford Mustang. Spent all day at the front and in the end it just didn’t work out for us with the caution coming out late. Happy for (Ryan) Blaney and that whole 12 team. They’ve been fast all year and good to see them get the win and lock into the playoffs. I spent a lot of years with that group.”

Michael McDowell – finished 18th: “That final lap was insane. I felt like the first two stages were a lot less crazy than normal Talladega racing, but the final stage was exactly like what we all had anticipated. Everyone at Front Row Motorsports did a great job of building me a fast No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang. Our car had a lot of speed and was able to suck-up really well in the draft. Our plan all race long was to play it safe and stay towards the rear of the field in hopes of avoiding any potential wrecks that might occur. Our strategy worked out great and we were in contention on the last lap, until the wrecks started.”

Brad Keselowski – finished 19: “I blocked the wrong lane at the end of the race, which was unfortunate because I thought I had shown all race that we had a Dent Wizard Ford that could have raced for the win. I’ll have to go back and look at the tape. I think it’s awesome that Ryan Blaney won and I’m really happy for him.”

Tyler Reddick – finished 20th: “We’re getting closer and closer to winning one of these races. We had a really fast No. 8 Realtree Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE today, really just needed a bigger fuel cell to make it through those closing laps without having to come to pit road. We were a little bit loose today, but the car was able to suck up to others really well, which made it easier for me to work with people and show them that they can trust and work with me in return. It was awesome to get my first Cup career stage win, even if we had to wait out a brief rain shower for it. I think that showed a lot of people that we really strong speed today. From there, we just played it smart and stayed out of trouble to be there in the closing laps. We managed to grab the lead with about 16 laps to go. It was tough to maintain the lead and save fuel since we knew we were right on the edge of making it. I thought maybe we would make it before that final caution came out, but then the No. 11 ran out of gas or had a bobble or something. Once he ran out, my main help was gone and the No. 12 was able to slide by as we slid back. But that is how it goes at plate racing. Timing is everything. It was just chaos on that final restart, but we gave it everything we had.”

Brendan Gaughan – finished 21st: “That’s not the finish we wanted – 21st place. I will take the heat. I did not do a good job on the last couple of restarts. Darren Shaw (crew chief) and the rest of the boys worked real hard on the No. 62 Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet. It was trouble at the start but in the end, they got it right. I will take the blame – 21st place and not a scratch on it. The good news is it is going to be a heck of a Chevrolet for Daytona.”

Cole Custer – finished 22nd: “That really stinks to run out of fuel toward the end of the race. My guys are doing a great job and we’ll get it turned around here soon. There’s not much you can do about running out of fuel when it’s a fuel mileage race. We really didn’t need that last caution.”

Clint Bowyer – finished 25th: “It was like a traffic jam today. I could push like heck, but when I was in front I would stack everyone up. It was frustrating running in the back like that in the first two stages, but that’s what you have to do to guarantee you will be there when the money is on the line. We were going for it at the end.”

Matt DiBenedetto – finished 26th: “We pitted for fuel and were driving up through the middle and got blindsided by somebody crashing. It was a hard hit. But I should be fine.”

Daniel Suarez – finished 28th: “We stayed out of trouble and that’s always a good thing at Talladega. Our CommScope Toyota didn’t feel too good at the start of the race, mostly in the rear. But, by the middle of the race, we made it better and I was able to drive it. We had some good moments on pit stops and we had great track position at one point. We just need to keep working hard to find the speed we need, especially on the superspeedways. We’ll go back home and keep trying to make it better for next weekend. Baby steps.”

Chase Elliott – finished 38th: “The splitter was in the ground a long ways and it was just dragging too much. It wasn’t getting any air to the engine, so it was getting really hot. So, it just wasn’t worth continuing. I hate it. We really started the day struggling pretty bad and finally got it going pretty good, I thought, later on. Ultimately, just got in a bad spot there and went around.”

Austin Dillon – finished 39th: “Unfortunate day for the No. 3 team. The Bass Pro Shops Camaro was pretty solid – we had to work on it a little bit. You try and race at these places and keep yourself upfront in a good position, and that’s what I was doing. Just missed our stage points twice – 11th and 12th at the end of both stages. Tried to work the middle groove there and when Chase (Elliott) got turned, I was just kind of the last guy standing when he came up the track. Unfortunately, it’s a part of these things.”

Monday’s Cup race at Talladega: Start time, forecast and more

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Let’s try this again. After rain and lightning on Sunday, the Cup Series will be back at Talladega Superspeedway for Monday’s race, NASCAR’s first superspeedway race since the Daytona 500 in February.

Teams will get their first experience with a different superspeedway rules package from what they had at Daytona.

Martin Truex Jr. starts first and and Denny Hamlin starts second.

Here are the details for Monday’s race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: Astronaut Doug Hurley, on board the International Space Station, will give the command to start engines at 3:10 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to be waved at 3:22 p.m.

PRERACE: Drivers report to their cars at 2:48 p.m. The invocation will be given at 3:02 p.m. by sports broadcaster Niki Noto Palmer. The national anthem will be performed by the 313th United States Army Band at 3:04 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 188 laps (500 miles) around the 2.66-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 60. Stage 2 ends on Lap 120.

COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 25

TV/RADIO: Fox will televise the race. Its coverage begins at 3 p.m. Motor Racing Network will broadcast the race. Its broadcast begins at 3 p.m. and also can be heard at mrn.com and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms with a high of 85 degrees and a 18% chance of rain at the race’s start.

LAST RACE: Denny Hamlin won in Miami, beating Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney.

LAST RACE AT TALLADEGA: Ryan Blaney beat Ryan Newman in a photo finish to win last fall’s playoff race.

TO THE REAR: William Byron (two inspection failures), Garrett Smithley (two inspection failures), Joey Gase (three inspection failures), Brendan Gaughan, Daniel Suarez and BJ McLeod (unapproved adjustment).

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for Cup starting lineup

CATCHING UP TO SPEED WITH NBC SPORTS COVERAGE:

Brendan Gaughan ready to mix it up with big teams at Talladega

Friday 5: Despite 2 wins in a row, Toyota boss has sharp words for teams

Stewart-Haas, Penske employees tested positive for COVID-19

Aric Almirola could tie Dale Jr.’s top-10 record at Talladega

Brad Keselowski: ‘You have to keep evolving at Talladega’

Can Kurt Busch finally run for daylight at Talladega?

One Month Back: Key moments from NASCAR’s return

Brendan Gaughan ready to mix it up with big teams at Talladega

Brendan Gaughan
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Brendan Gaughan hasn’t been competed in a NASCAR race since the Daytona 500 in February, but that doesn’t have him worried for today’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway (3 p.m. ET on Fox).

“I’m no rustier than anybody else,” Gaughan said this week ahead of his start for Beard Motorsports.

The 44-year-old Gaughan, who hasn’t competed full-time since 2017, noted that “nobody has raced a superspeedway race since the last time I raced one.”

That race saw Gaughan pilot the No. 62 Chevrolet to a seventh-place finish as he earned 30 owner points for Beard Motorsports. It was enough to ensure Gaughan would be able to sttart today’s race in a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has eliminated qualifying for races.

“We’re excited that we were able to stay in the top 40 in points,” Gaughan said. “We were sweating that for a bit, especially after Bristol (on May 31). I said earlier that I love Tommy Baldwin and B.J. McLeod – they’re my buddies and I like them a lot. After Bristol, I started to go ‘uh-oh’. … Who would have thought we’d be sitting here in the world the way it is now and that seventh-place finish at Daytona for the No. 62 pays dividends yet again, and kept us locked in for Talladega.”

Sunday’s race will be Gaughan’s 14th for Beard Motorsports. The part-time team, which gets chassis from Richard Childress Racing and engines from ECR, has just one full-time employee, crew chief Darren Shaw, one part-time employee, car chief Drew Mickey, and two mechanics who help out on race weekends.

Despite the lack of man power, Gaughan is not to be overlooked on superspeedways.

“When we show up, we’re not some team that everybody goes, ‘Oh boy, watch out for that one,'” Gaughan said in a media release. “When we walk in that place, people want to work with us. Now, our first year and even our second year a little bit – I had to go up to people and remind them a bit and say, ‘Hey, hey, Jimmie (Johnson), don’t forget, I’ve got a big-thumping ECR motor and a good RCR-built Chevrolet. Remember, I’ve got good stuff.’ Now, we show up to the racetrack and I’ve got guys from other manufacturers going, ‘Hey, do you have to play in the Chevy games or are you a free agent?’

“Then I’ve got Chevy inviting us to play in their reindeer games and say, ‘Hey, you’re a Chevy, you’re here with us.’ It feels great to know that this little bitty team, when we show up now, people come and find us and say, ‘Hey, we’ll work with you. We know how good you are.’”

Unlike his previous starts for Beard Motorsports, the team hasn’t had a practice to help dial-in the car before Gaughan rolls off the grid from 39th.

“It affects us probably more than most teams,” Gaughan said. “Most teams at least have some sort of an engineering staff, at least have some sort of equipment to pull that race car down repeatedly to make sure they’re going to hit their travels. Our race team does not. It’s difficult, also, to get time in other peoples’ shops right now with the way NASCAR has the teams sequestered. … I do know that it got pulled down, I do know they were able to get some time on the pull down rig. But not as much as others or other races we’ve had. …

“But thankfully, for us, the equalizer is that there is going to be a competition caution and I have a feeling the No. 62 team will be very graciously looking forward to that competition caution if we happen to miss our travels, hit the splitter too hard or anything like that.”

Gaughan believes the early stages of the 188-lap race will see many drivers, including him, “practicing” moves to see what their cars are capable of.

“The way this thing is now with the organizations that all work so well together, I think you’ll be able to see people probably practice those together, maybe even orchestrate some of them during the race if they get a calm setting to maybe say ‘Hey, can I see what mine looks like in the front versus the back’,” Gaughan said. “Maybe some teams will work with each other to do that. I think you’re going to see maybe a little bit of coordinated effort team-wise and some people will get it faster than others, just like anything else in life. You’ll have a lot of laps to be able to try and practice a few things if you put yourself in the right situation.”

Martin Truex Jr. to start on pole Sunday at Talladega

Leave a comment

Martin Truex Jr., who is seeking his first Cup points win on a superspeedway, will start on the pole for Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway after a random draw.

Truex will be joined on the front row by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin. Truex (Martinsville) and Hamlin (Miami) have combined to win the past two Cup races.

Kyle Busch starts third and is followed by Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick.

Click here for Cup starting lineup

The field was determined through a random draw of the following groups:

  • Positions 1-12: Random draw from charter teams in those positions in owner points
  • Positions 13-24: Random draw from charter teams in those positions in owner points
  • Positions 25-36: Random draw from charter teams in those positions in owner points
  • Positions 37-40: Open teams in order of owners points

NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega

Race Time: 3 p.m. ET Sunday

Track: Talladega Superspeedway; Talladega, Alabama (2.66-mile speedway)

Length: 188 laps, 500 miles

Stages: Stage 1 ends on Lap 60. Stage 2 ends on Lap 120.

TV coverage: Fox

Radio: Motor Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); mrn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Talladega (113 laps, 300.5 miles), 5:30 p.m. ET on FS1

Next Truck Series race: June 27 at Pocono (60 laps, 150 miles), 12:30 p.m. ET on FS1

 

NASCAR to move location of car numbers for All-Star Race

3 Comments

NASCAR will use the July 15 All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway to experiment with the location of numbers on race cars.

Instead of the traditional location of numbers on car doors, those numbers will be pushed back toward the rear wheel. All teams competing in the All-Star Race and All-Star Open are required to have the car number in this location. The move allocates more space on car sides for sponsors, something teams have requested.

On Wednesday’s Motor Racing Network’s Crew Call, NASCAR president Steve Phelps explained the reason for the change to show host Mike Bagley:

“I think the All-Star (Race) historically has been an opportunity for us to test things, and I think that’s exactly what we’re doing with this,” Phelps said. “Teams have asked us to take a look at this, provide some additional visibility for sponsors, so that’s what we’ll test.”

The change will be for the All-Star Race and All-Star Open only.

“We’ll evaluate it,” Phelps said. “Is it the right thing to do? Is it not the right thing to do? I  know some folks that came out and said ‘this is not for me, I don’t like it,’ so we’ll take that all under consideration and as we move past the All-Star (Race) we’ll see what it looks like moving forward.”

In addition to having another option to increase sponsor visibility on cars, the move of the car number is also seen as a combination of catering to tradition and existing fans along with attracting new fans.

“I think not in every instance, but there are instances where you actually can do both,” Phelps told Bagley. “I don’t think you have to have the two at odds with each other. Sometimes that’s going to happen, but for us, we’ve talked about hearing from the core fans and we do.

“We want to hear from the core fans and what they think, traditional fans. There are certain things we want to try out or we believe is in the best interest in the sport after collaborating with the industry and saying this is something we should test. This is one of those opportunities.

“I don’t know if it appeals to a newer fan vs. a fan for 40 years, the changes in the paint schemes. But again, it’s one race, the All-Star Race, what better time to test it?”

This would not be the first time where car numbers have been placed on areas other than the door. It was a practice for some teams in the early 1950s, according to NASCAR historian Ken Martin, per a story on NASCAR.com.

******************************

Fifteen drivers are locked into the All-Star Race by virtue of wins in 2019 and 2020 (to date): Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Alex Bowman, Justin Haley and Matt Kenseth.

There are five opportunities remaining for other drivers to get automatic berths in the All-Star Race field by virtue of winning at any of the five races still to be held prior to the All-Star Race: Talladega, the Pocono doubleheader, Indianapolis and Kentucky.

Several other drivers are eligible to be voted in as part of the NASCAR Fan Vote, currently under way through noon ET July 14. Click here to vote. Drivers are eligible for the Fan Vote by having attempted to qualify for the 2020 Daytona 500.

Those drivers are: Quin Houff, Austin Dillon, Tyler Reddick, Aric Almirola, Ty Dillon, Clint Bowyer, Brennan Poole, Chris Buescher, Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, Reed Sorenson, Corey LaJoie, Michael McDowell, David Ragan, Ryan Preece, John Hunter Nemechek, Cole Custer, Bubba Wallace, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chad Finchum, Joey Gase, B.J. McLeod, JJ Yeley, Brendan Gaughan, Timmy Hill, Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell and Daniel Suarez.

If any of those drivers win a stage in the NASCAR Open qualifying race prior to the All-Star Race, that driver will be locked into the field and not eligible to be the Fan Vote winner.

One Fan Vote winner has gone on to win the All-Star Race in the event’s history: Kasey Kahne in 2008.

Follow @JerryBonkowski