FONTANA, Calif. and CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Story by Race Chaser Online Mid-Atlantic Correspondent Marshall Gabell – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images North America photo –
It has been a seesaw start for veteran driver Brendan Gaughan in the first five NASCAR XFINITY Series races this season.
Gaughan, who finished eighth in the championship standings with long-time team owner Richard Childress last season, plunged into this season with a crash in the opening race at Daytona (forcing him to finish in the garage) – but that is as bad as it has gotten for the Las Vegas, Nevada native.
Following the upset in south Florida, the two-time XFINITY Series winner rebounded in Atlanta with a 12th place finish (his career-best finish at the challenging 1.5-mile track).
Then the flood gates opened.
Gaughan recorded a sixth place finish at his hometown track in Las Vegas and followed that performance up with an eighth place act at Phoenix last weekend.
But the best was still to come.
With an ample amount of momentum and confidence, Gaughan entered the Drive4Clots.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway this weekend looking to better his last two finishes – something that he achieved without trouble.
After starting the event in the eighth position, Gaughan progressed throughout the field and recorded a second place finish – his career-best at the Fontana, California track and his third straight top ten finish in the XFINITY Series.
“That last restart, I went from eighth (to second),” Gaughan explained. “I just had a helluva launch. You can never say you’re going to beat Kevin Harvick on a restart, but I would have loved to have had one shot at it there (at the end). I am glad that I am pissed off about being second.”
Gaughan, who is also competing part-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Premium Motorsports, credits the recent success to getting more track time between two series – a resource that few full-time XFINITY Series drivers have accessible to them.
“It is helping me in a lot of ways,” Gaughan said about running doubly duty. “I just get extra time to figure out where I wanna (run on the track). It just gives me more race cars to feel. I think it is going to make me better at the end of the season.”
With the extra track time and the momentum continuing to build, Gaughan feels that he and his Richard Childress team are inching into championship contention as he now sits sixth in the standings.
“We know that Richard Childress Racing is a championship caliber team,” Gaughan expressed. “We have just been fantastic on this west coast swing. Richard Childress Racing has put a ton of effort into making these race cars and now I cannot wait to get back to Texas.”
With a bunch of races scheduled across two series this season, Gaughan will have little time to breathe, but for right now, he is walking with a little swagger behind his step – even at 39-years-old.
“I will be racing the Premium Motorsports Chevrolet at Martinsville,” Gaughan said. “I do not know where I decided that I was going to turn 40-years-old this season and do double duty all season. I don’t know what brain child this was (laughter).”