If you’re looking for a Daytona 500 underdog story, look no further than Beard Motorsports and driver Brendan Gaughan.
Gaughan will put a cap on his 23-year NASCAR driving career by running a four-race NASCAR Cup Series schedule in 2020, beginning with the 62nd Daytona 500 Sunday at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The 44-year-old racer from Las Vegas is competing for Beard Motorsports, driving the No. 62 Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro. After Daytona, Gaughan will return to the seat April 24-26 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Aug. 27-29 at Daytona and Oct. 2-4 at Talladega for what will be his final NASCAR Cup Series start.
Gaughan has made 12 NASCAR Cup Series starts with Beard Motorsports, all coming at Daytona and Talladega. And in a series dominated by multicar teams with hundreds of employees, Beard Motorsports does it with one full-time employee, crew chief Darren Shaw. Its one part-time employee, car chief Andrew Mickey, is a fulltime, industrial plumber. And the two mechanics who come in on race weekends – one is a boat captain (Nic Hill) and the other is an automotive body technician (Jack Cagnon).
Beard Motorsports has proven to be the little team that could, a modern-day David competing against the Goliaths of the NASCAR Cup Series. Owned by Mark Beard Sr., president of Beard Motorsports and various family businesses,Beard Motorsports has taken a strategic approach to its racing endeavors, forming a technical partnership with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and running only the superspeedway races at Daytona and Talladega. With cars constructed by RCR and powered by ECR-built engines, Beard Motorsports has scored two top-10 finishes, the most recent being an eighth-place drive last April at Talladega where Gaughan led five laps.
In fact, it was last October at Talladega where five laps short of the finish, Gaughan took the lead as the field approached turn three of the 2.66-mile oval. Unfortunately, Gaughan never made it through turn three, as he was sent airborne after being collected in a multicar accident. Gaughan walked away from the spectacular crash unhurt, and despite the 27th-place finish, remained upbeat as he spoke to reporters outside the infield care center following a precautionary medical evaluation. The No. 62 Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro had run up front, and was this close to slaying Goliath. Gaughan could taste the victory, and while the outcome proved to be bittersweet, it set the stage for an epic comeback in this year’s Daytona 500.
Don’t count out the No. 62 in the 62nd Daytona 500, because Brendan is #NotGaughanYet.
Brendan Gaughan, Driver of the No. 62 Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro for Beard Motorsports:
Beard Motorsports is David versus the Goliaths of the NASCAR Cup Series. How do you and the team make it all work?
“Mark Beard is the team owner. He’s passionate about racing and he’s always wanted to have a car in a Cup race. It’s been a lifelong dream of his. He drove in the NASCAR Modified, Sportsman and Busch Grand National Series in the ’80s and ’90s. His son raced go-karts and Late Models and Modifieds. They do snowmobile racing. He’s a racer. He got a good, good car that was an old RCR car, but I called the fab shop and they said it was one of their current models.
“Literally, the team has one employee, and it’s the crew chief, Darren Shaw. He’s the only guy that works on the racecar. That’s it. We don’t have a fulltime team. We don’t have a crew coming in. We have one guy who comes in as the car chief who is an industrial plumber and, when he gets off work or has down time, he comes in and helps there. That’s it. This is an old-school throwback.
“Richard (Childress) and I, we have a great relationship, us and RCR go way back. I love that man. He’s taken such great care of me and he still does. They help us, they help put it back together. In fact, after our crash last fall at Talladega, the RCR fab shop, Richard, everybody, were telling me, ‘Don’t you worry, we’ve got you another one for Daytona. Just make sure you just come and get it.’ We do have two cars now and Darren Shaw does it all himself. The man’s amazing. He gets to take it up to RCR, they do the tweaking on the bodies and stuff like that. They keep us up to date for a team that’s in the last garage stall and we go out there and try to win races with it.”
Your last 13 NASCAR Cup Series races have all come at superspeedways. What is it that you like about this style of racing?
“I’ve liked them for a long time. There’s more than just brute strength. Everybody loves to say it’s a crapshoot, but it’s not a crapshoot. There is thought that goes into it and, if you look at my record with the Beards, go to five laps or less or 10 laps or less in the 12 races I’ve had with them, and in eight of those races, I’ve been in the top-five with 10 laps or less to go. To put yourself in that position is an art, and I love doing that. These races are fun. It is an equalizer. It is a chance for a team like the Beards to show up and have a chance to win, and we’ve proved that time and time again. I just really enjoy it. There’s a time when discretion and valor come into play. You’ve got to be smart and see what’s going on. And I love competing for the Beard family. They’re great people, and I’m going to enjoy these last four races with them.”
You’ve been competing in the NASCAR Cup Series since 2004, but have said some of your most memorable moments have come in the last few years with Beard Motorsports. Why?
“It’s just a throwback. This doesn’t happen anymore. Nobody does this anymore. This is a team that literally does four races. We only had one car for the first year and a half. We had three for a brief moment. Now we’re back down to two. Darren Shaw (crew chief) and I, we went and I got the trailer wrapped for them as a surprise for the owner. Their daughter went and got the team crew shirts. And Darren got the pit box put together with a monitor on it, with television and timing and scoring, and wrapped it with sponsors because we always had to look at other people’s pit boxes for lap times. And we did that all for the owner out of our own pockets to give them something nice. Every other team, that’s expected. If you don’t have that, people won’t work for you. These are guys who thought it was the neatest thing in the world to have a trailer wrapped that says Beard Motorsports. These are people who appreciate this sport, and love just being able to make these races. I remind them all the time that they’re beating Roger Penske, they’re beating Joe Gibbs, they’re beating Rick Hendrick. They’re such great people and their family is awesome – their son Mark and their daughter Amie are such a big part of it – and I enjoy being with these people and seeing what we accomplish as a David versus the Goliaths.”
You’re locked into the Daytona 500 because of your qualifying effort. What are your chances in the Great American Race?
“This is a bad-to-the-bone car with a big-time ECR motor. I can push, I can pull, I’m fast. Last year, Brad Keselowski, at the end of that race, was hammering the hell out of me. I got my hand signal, ‘Let’s go, let’s go,’ and he was pushing me to the front and he’s done it before and he’ll do it again. I pushed Kyle Busch to the front, so those guys know who’s in it now. It’s not somebody who they don’t realize who it is. They know we have great stuff and they know it’s me behind the wheel, so it helps. They let me play in their reindeer games now.”
Meet the No. 62 Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Hotel & Casino Team
Driver: Brendan Gaughan
Hometown: Las Vegas
Crew Chief: Darren Shaw
Hometown: Salisbury, North Carolina
Car Chief: Andrew Mickey
Hometown: Walkerton, North Carolina
Spotter: Ron Lewis, Jr.
Hometown: Manteca, California
Front Tire Changer: Tim Sheets
Hometown: Carmel, Indiana
Rear Tire Changer: David Mayo
Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina
Tire Carrier: Damien Wermes
Hometown: Huntersville, North Carolina
Jackman: Justin Clapper
Hometown: Manahawkin, New Jersey
Fuel Man: Bobby Grant
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
Engine Tuner: Jason Watkins
Hometown: Ridgeway, Virginia
Tire Technician: Steve Wheeler
Hometown: Tucker, Georgia
Mechanic: Nic Hill
Hometown: Fort Myers, Florida
Mechanic: Jack Gagnon
Hometown: Quebec, Canada
Front-end Mechanic: Mark Sanders
Hometown: Springfield, Ohio
Truck Driver: David Boggs
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
Brendan Gaughan at Daytona:
● Gaughan drove his No. 62 Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro to the 33rd-quickest time in Daytona 500 pole qualifying on Sunday. Gaughan’s lap of 47.633 seconds at 188.945 mph was the second-best among the seven independent, non-chartered teams attempting to make the field for the 62nd Daytona 500. There are 43 drivers going for only 40 spots, with 36 of those positions reserved for full-time, chartered teams. The two fastest, non-chartered teams locked themselves into the Daytona 500, giving Gaughan a guaranteed starting spot in the 62nd Daytona 500.
● Gaughan’s 33rd-place qualifying effort placed him 16th in the second race of Thursday’s Bluegreen Vacations Duel – twin 150-mile heat races that set the rest of the Daytona 500 field. That event takes place at 7 p.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 13 with live coverage on FS1. Daytona Speedweeks then culminates with the 62nd running of the Daytona 500 at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 16, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 1 p.m.
● Gaughan has made four Daytona 500 starts in a NASCAR Cup Series career dating back to 2004. His best Daytona 500 finish is 11th, earned in 2017.
● Gaughan has a total of 30 NASCAR starts at Daytona – nine in the Cup Series, 12 in the Xfinity Series and nine in the Truck Series. His best finish is fifth, earned twice in the Xfinity Series (July 2016 and February 2017). His best Cup finish at Daytona is seventh (July 2017) and his best Truck Series finish is 10th (February 2003).
● Gaughan has a win at Daytona, but not on the oval. In his only road-course start at Daytona, Gaughan co-drove to victory in the GT class in the 2011 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. In the No. 67 Porsche 911 GT3 from TRG Motorsports, Gaughan teamed with Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly, Wolf Henzler and Steven Bertheau to win their division by a full lap over their nearest pursuer.
● Beard Motorsports has fielded a car in six NASCAR Cup Series races at Daytona, three of which have been in the Daytona 500. Its best Daytona 500 finish is 11th in 2017 and its best finish at Daytona is seventh, earned in the July 2017 Coke Zero 400. All of Beard Motorsports’ starts have come with Gaughan.
● Beard Motorsports is part passion project and part corporate initiative, with the race team serving to market Beard Oil Distributing and TTS Logistics. Beard Oil Distributing is a third-generation, family-owned company that services the nation’s pipeline construction industry. TTS Logistics is an international freight company delivering an assortment of goods via ground, air and sea.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!