TEXAS WITH WINNING ATTITUDE
Brendan Gaughan, driver of the No. 10 International MAXX Force Diesel Ford F-150, has four consecutive wins at Texas Motor Speedway (two races in 2002, two races in 2003) in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Gaughan talks about returning to one of his favorite tracks, track conditions and how the wind will affect practice, qualifying and Friday night’s race.
BRENDAN GAUGHAN – No. 10 International MAXX Force Diesel Ford F-150 – AFTER WINNING AT TEXAS FOUR TIMES, WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO WIN? “It was a long time ago and every year it seems to get further and further away. We finished second last year and we kind of found some of the stuff that we thought we were missing. This track, it’s just like a Charlotte or an Atlanta. A lot of Bruton Smith’s racetracks, they’re big, fast race tracks. You have to have a great engine package and you have to have a good aero package. Once again, without all the Cup engineering and all the high-dollar stuff, you’ve got to choose – a qualifying truck or a race truck. Fortunately for me, Rick Crawford and the Circle Bar Racing team chooses Fords that race. So, I don’t know necessarily how well were’ going to qualify. But qualifying here really doesn’t mean much. I won two of those races from 33rd and 36th. So, qualifying here isn’t the big deal, just staying out of trouble and keeping everything in perspective. If you make a mistake, go back out and keep the body on the Ford in the same. I’d love to win here. In 2003, which was my last win came here. I’d love to come back here and bring back some of our old magic.”
YOU DIDN’T QUALIFY WELL WHEN YOU WON, SO QUALIFYING DOESN’T INFLUENCE THE RACE HERE AS MUCH AS IT DOES AT OTHER TRACKS? “Well, one year we had to change the engine and start in the back and then the other year we qualified back there because of something, I don’t remember what but normally we qualify in the middle. Here it doesn’t take qualifying to win this race. It does take strategy to win this race, especially if you’re going to come from the back to the front. You have to be strong. You can’t be decent and try to come from the back to the front. You got to know that you were back there for a reason and make your way up. With us, I like to qualify somewhere in the top-15 or 18 spots. That way you’re not way in the back. You’re in the middle section of this track. You don’t have pass the whole field. It comes down to Bryan Berry and the guys on pit road making good stops. I’ve always said that if they just give me a solid stop, I don’t care if they gain 10 spots or lose 10 spots. Just do their best and give me a solid stop, it will be fine. Bryan will make his adjustments and we’ll see where we go from there. But, two tires, four tires, fuel, it will be a strategy race.”
ON RACING AT TEXAS. “I love this place. My family has a ranch just down the road out in Weatherford, Texas. We’ve always prided ourselves on being cowboys. My father is in the bucking horse and bucking bull business. My sister and mother are both in the horse business. Now that I drive for Tom Mitchell, who’s Circle Bar Motel and RV Park is in Ozona, Texas, I race for a Texan now. I very much would like to win here. This has always been one of my favorite places. Even before I came here, Texas was Texas. Everybody things about things in Texas being bigger and better and this track, when it was built, I remember coming here with Walker Evans and Butch Miller was driving. Everybody was so scared of turn four because they didn’t like the transition or turn two, or whatever it was. They didn’t like the track. Bruton wasn’t afraid to tear it up a couple of times. I always have this thing about Texas being a track that everybody was afraid of, so it always worked for me.”
ON TODAY’S WINDY PRACTICE. “ Man, the wind is tough. The main thing I always say is that everybody has to deal with it. We’re not handling the wind very well right now. We can’t get our Ford to go through the wind and make me comfortable right now. It’s bad because other guys are. So we gotta try and catch them. Bryan [Berry, crew chief] is out there working on a few things right now. It’s miserable when this wind kicks up like this. You come off of four and as soon as it’s blowing up the front straightaway, so when you come out of four, the wind picks up your nose and tries to make you tight and you can feel how slow you are down the front straightaway and you turn in. Then the wind changes on the side of the truck and moves you around in the corners. It’s really difficult with all this blustering wind, but the main thing is that everybody has to deal with it. If somebody’s going fast out there, we’ve just got to make ourselves go as fast.
MORE ON TRACK CONDITIONS AND TODAY’S PRACTICE. “We struggled a little bit. We can’t get a handle on the track right now. And this track means a lot to me, so it always bums me out when we don’t do better here. The wind just blows the Ford around everywhere and it just gives you these feelings like you get tight off of four, you get loose into three. It really tough of on the truck there. But looking at times overall, maybe we weren’t that bad. We just never went fast. But we seem to maintain longer than some guys and even Rick. I’m all of a sudden thinking we weren’t completely off, but we’re trying something new.”
HOW DO YOU FIX THE UNKNOWNS, SUCH AS THE WIND? “You’ve just got to run with it. That’s why being a race car driver is fun some days because when you have a truck that you can’t fix and you can’t do everything, the crew chief says, ‘Okay, driver, it’s your turn.’ Bryan is going to give me a couple more chances to try to fix it. Then when the race comes around, he’ll keep doing it during the race, but once you have what you have, you just have to run it. Some days I’m pretty good at running stuff that needs a little bit of help, but the best thing is, I’ve got a team that never stops until the last pit stop and making adjustments.”
ON TEAMMATE RICK CRAWFORD LEADING THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS. “It’s really exciting right now. Even though I’m not leading the points, it’s the first time that my race team that I’m with is leading the points, since I did it in ’03. Rick Crawford, he’s just slow and steady. He’s upset because he hasn’t set the world on fire. We haven’t won a lot of races this year with Circle Bar Racing, yet. Like I told him, let all these other guys beat and bang, who cares that you’re not setting the world on fire. He’s finishing top 10 every race, or top fives every race. He’s got a driver that’s got everybody mad at him and making noise in the garage. It’s kind of taking the pressure off of him. Everybody gets to look at his teammate and he can sit there and finish sixth. We’re 200 points back and that’s still a long way to go to win the championship, at this stage of the race. I still believe we can make a battle for it. We’re not out yet. I sure would love to set there and take a lot of pressure off of Rick and win a bunch of races for him and watch him extend that points lead.”
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Bobby East, driver of the No. 09 Zaxby’s Ford F-150, was the fastest Ford driver during today’s practice sessions at Texas Motor Speedway. East posted the fourth fastest time in the first practice and seventh fastest time in second practice. This is East’s 26th NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start and his second start this season.
BOBBY EAST – No. 09 Zaxby’s Ford F-150 – YOU WERE THE FASTEST FORD F-150 IN BOTH PRACTICES TODAY, FOURTH AND SEVENTH, RESPECTIVELY. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT PRACTICE TODAY? “We just unloaded really good and that puts you ahead of a lot of people. It just changes how your whole weekend goes; especially on how you’re two practices goes. We’re just thankful and happy that we unloaded as good as we did.”
WIND HAS BEEN A FACTOR TODAY, HOW DO YOU ADJUST FOR THE WIND? “I’m still not exactly sure. I think the main thing is that the wind was making your truck a handful out there. After a little bit you got used to it. The main thing I was worried about was not over adjusting the truck in certain spots where the wind might be affecting it more than what it’s going to do tomorrow night.”
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE DURING THE RACE WITH TRACK AND WEATHER CONDITIONS? HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE THE ADJUSTMENTS YOU’RE MAKING NOW WILL WORK DURING THE RACE? “The temperature should be okay. We know the track is going to be a little cooler because it will be later at night, but it will still be warm. I think all that’s going to do is make your truck a little bit better. It still might have the same characteristics, but not as bad because the track will be cooler and the tires won’t be getting as hot. And the wind, I’m still not sure about it.”
A FEW WEEKS AGO, YOU WON A MIDGET RACE. HOW DO YOU ADJUST BETWEEN THE CAR AND RACING A FORD-150? “Well, I drove both Midget cars and last year’s Busch cars a lot last year and that has helped me out for this year. We’re really on top of our game in the Midget Sprint Car Series right now, more so than we were last year, and that’s helped out a lot. I just have a year of laps between stock cars and Midgets, off-and-on or switching back and forth all year, but it’s helped me out a lot last year. As far as coming back to the truck, I get to drive a great Ford F-150 and Chad Norris [crew chief] and all the guys. We unloaded it really good today and that makes my job a lot easier.”
WHAT ABOUT THE DIFFERENCES IN THE SIZE OF VEHICLES AND TRACK SIZE? “The hardest part is the in race, just the traffic. I’m not really used to having to aerodynamics here as much. That’s just been the hardest deal; it’s been a couple of years. Other than Kansas, it’s been a few years since I raced the truck. As far as getting in, practicing and qualifying, it’s not to hard, but going out there and racing is pretty tough, jumping back in forth.”
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS? “I think our goals all year is to have top-10 finishes. These guys are coming off a good run last week and a good top-5 for them. They’ve got a little bit of momentum going and I want to keep the ball rolling for them. I think once I get my first top-10 this year, then we can start looking for more top fives.”