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

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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.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wins Daytona 500 pole, Alex Bowman qualifies second

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will start from the pole in the 62nd Daytona 500 while Alex Bowman will start second.

Stenhouse qualified first Sunday with a speed of 194.582 mph and ended Hendrick Motorsports’ streak of five consecutive Daytona 500 poles. It is Stenhouse’s third Cup Series pole

Next Sunday’s Daytona 500 will be Stenhouse’s first start with JTG Daugherty Racing.

“It’s cool,” Stenhouse told Fox. “Tad (Geschickter, team owner) and (wife) Jodi are back at the shop with everybody. So. I’m just thankful for the opportunity to be here and to bring guys with me like Brian (Pattie, crew chief). They’ve been working really hard. They’re in my corner. They’ve been behind me throughout all my career. Ernie (Cope, competition director) runs a great organization and a great shop.

“The Hendrick horsepower was amazing. Obviously we’ve got quite a few Hendrick cars right there behind us lined up. Our Camaro ZL1 1LE was really strong. And the winds started picking up there, down the back straightaway; a little headwind for the other guys, so I’m really proud to put our Kroger Chevy on the pole on Kroger pole day for the Daytona 500. That was our goal coming down here. Pattie was working really hard all off-season for that goal. And everybody chipped in, the whole shop. We cut bodies off. We put them back on. So this goes out to the whole shop and I’ve got to thank our other partners as well. I’m looking forward to hopefully continuing this momentum on Thursday.”

2020 is Stenhouse’s first season driving the No. 47 Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing after a decade with Roush Fenway Racing. This is the team’s third Cup pole. The first two were earned by AJ Allmendinger on road courses.

Bowman posted a speed of 194.363 mph. It is the third straight year Bowman has started on the front row of the Daytona 500. Bowman led a Hendrick effort that saw Chase Elliott post the third best speed and Jimmie Johnson post the fourth.

“There’s a flag at the end of the back straightaway that you can see and kind of see where the wind is at and what it’s doing, and the car kind of fell on its face off of Turn 2,” Bowman said. “You could see the flag was pointed straight at me, so I knew we had a really big headwind.  I wasn’t really aware of where the winds were for all the other guys, so I was a little worried about that, but obviously didn’t hurt us too bad.  Would have liked to have been a little better, but still pretty good.”

The rest of the field will be set through Thursday’s 150-mile qualifying races. Three cars will fail to make the 40-car field.

Justin Haley and Kaulig Racing locked their No. 16 Chevrolet into the 500 with the 31st best speed, which was the best among the seven “open” cars that don’t have charters, which guarantees a starting spot. It will be the first Cup Series start for the team that competes full-time in the Xfinity Series.

Brendan Gaughan also locked Beard Motorsports’ No. 62 Chevrolet into the 500 with the 33rd best speed, the second best speed among “open” cars.

Daniel Suarez, who is entering his first season with Gaunt Bros Racing, will have to race his way into the Daytona 500 after he posted the 36th best speed. Gaunt Bros Racing is one of the teams without a charter.

“We have to race hard,” Suarez said. “We knew that we would have a lot of challenges and that we didn’t also have the raw speed, but I know what I can do.  I just have to go out there … Thursday and get it done.”

Click here for the qualifying results.

43 cars entered for Daytona 500

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Forty-three cars are entered for this year’s Daytona 500, meaning three cars will fail to make the race.

The 36 chartered teams are guaranteed starting spots.

Click here for Daytona 500 Entry List

Cars and drivers not guaranteed starting spots and vying for the four spots for non-chartered teams are:

No. 16: Justin Haley (Kaulig Racing)

No. 27: Reed Sorenson (Premium Motorsports)

No. 49: Chad Finchum (Motorsports Business Management)

No. 54: JJ Yeley (Rick Ware Racing)

No. 62: Brendan Gaughan (Beard Motorsports)

No. 66: Timmy Hill (Motorsports Business Management)

No. 96: Daniel Suarez (Gaunt Brothers Racing)

Daytona 500 qualifying takes place Sunday. The qualifying races will be Feb. 13. The Daytona 500 is Feb. 16.

 

 

Brendan Gaughan to run 4 final Cup races in 2020, including Daytona 500

Photo: Beard Motorsports' Twitter account
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Brendan Gaughan will kick off his 23rd and final season of NASCAR racing in the 62nd Daytona 500 for Beard Motorsports.

Gaughan – who is using the hashtag #NotGaughanYet to symbolize his final season — will drive the No. 62 Chevrolet at Daytona. If he qualifies, it will be his fifth time in the 500 field, with his best finish coming in 2017 when he finished 11th.

The 44-year-old Gaughan is slated to drive four races this season in NASCAR Cup for Beard Motorsports. In addition to the Daytona 500, he’ll also race April 26 at Talladega Superspeedway, August 29 back at Daytona and will make the final start of his racing career on October 4 back at Talladega.

The Las Vegas native has made 12 previous starts for Beard Motorsports, all at either Daytona and Talladega.

“I love racing, and competing with Beard Motorsports these last few years have made for some of my most enjoyable moments in NASCAR,” Gaughan said in a media release. “We do a lot with a little, so when we run up front and lead laps, it’s very satisfying because you know all the work that went into it.”

Last April, Gaughan led five laps at Talladega and gave Beard Motorsports its second top-10 finish in the Cup Series, finishing eighth. Gaughan also finished seventh at Daytona for Beard Motorsports in July 2017.

“I wouldn’t want my last races as a NASCAR driver to be with any other team,” Gaughan said. “(Team owner) Mark Beard Sr., and his entire family are passionate about racing, and NASCAR in particular. We’re all competitive and want to perform, but we’re going to have fun doing it. That’s how we all got started in the sport – because it was fun. And as I wrap up my career, I’m going to make sure it stays fun.”

Gaughan has made 62 prior starts in the Cup Series dating back to his rookie season in 2004, when he earned his best career finish in the series (fourth at Talladega).

He also has made 219 starts in the Xfinity Series with two wins, and 217 starts in the Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series with eight wins.

Gaughan’s effort at Daytona will be in a chassis built by Richard Childress Racing and powered by a motor from ECR Engines. He’ll be sponsored by Beard Oil Distributing, South Point Hotel & Casino and City Lights Shine whiskey moonshine.

He begins his quest to qualify for the 40-car field with Daytona 500 qualifying on February 9. His lap will determine his starting spot in the Feb. 13 Duel – twin 150-mile heat races that set the rest of the field for the Great American Race.

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Preliminary Daytona 500 entry list released

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Forty-two cars are on the preliminary entry list for the Feb. 17 Daytona 500.

NASCAR released the entry list Wednesday night.

Among those on the entry list are: Casey Mears (No. 27, Germain Racing), Reigning Xfinity champion Tyler Reddick (No. 31, Richard Childress Racing), Brendan Gaughan (No. 62 Beard Motorsports), Joey Gase (No. 66, Motorsports Business Management), Ryan Truex (No. 71, Tommy Baldwin Racing) and NASCAR on NBC analyst Parker Kligerman (No. 96, Gaunt Brothers Racing).

Click here for Daytona 500 entry list

MORE: Full Daytona Speedweeks schedule