Date: June 22, 2020
Event: GEICO 500 (Round 13 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (2.66-mile oval)
Format: 188 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/68 laps)
Start/Finish: 39th/21st (Running, completed 191 of 191 laps)
Note: Race extended three laps past its scheduled 188-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.
Race Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Tyler Reddick of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., of JTG Daugherty Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):
● Brendan Gaughan started 39th and finished 33rd.
● Handling issues plagued the No. 62 Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro from the drop of the green flag, with Gaughan reporting that the car was driving loose and hitting the splitter hard on the track.
● The competition caution on lap 25 gave the team an opportunity to work on the car’s handling – making air pressure and wedge adjustments while changing tires and adding fuel. Crew chief Darren Shaw had Gaughan make a second trip to pit road so the team could inspect the splitter and make necessary adjustments. Gaughan was 33rd for the lap-29 restart.
● Gaughan was able to pick up positions once racing resumed – climbing to 24th on lap 32 and 23rd by lap 34, but noted that the splitter was still hitting hard on the track.
● As the laps wound down in the stage, Gaughan noted that his car was bouncing around “like on a trampoline.” The handling resulted in Gaughan losing a few positions in the running order.
● Rain forced NASCAR to display the caution on lap 55. Gaughan gave up 30th-place for a trip to pit road for tires, fuel and an adjustment to help keep the splitter off the track. Gaughan was 33rd when NASCAR displayed the red flag.
● After a nearly one-hour delay for weather, the red flag was replaced with the yellow. Because only three laps remained in the stage, NASCAR elected to have it finish under caution.
● Gaughan made a couple of trips to pit road during the break in the hopes of helping the splitter issue. As such, he lined up at the end of lead -lap cars in 33rd place for the beginning of Stage 2.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):
● Gaughan started 33rd and finished 35th.
● Gaughan moved up to 24th by lap 67 and was 22nd by lap 74.
● The potential for more rain loomed over Talladega throughout the afternoon, and many drove expecting the race could be cut short. Gaughan asked for weather updates to determine how much he should push to the front.
● A single-car accident on lap 94 resulted in the fourth caution of the race. Gaughan was in 32nd and he noted that the car handled better at the start of the run, but trended toward the loose side as the tires started to wear. The team elected to make a chassis adjustment, change four tires and add fuel. Gaughan lined up 26th for the lap-99 restart.
● Gaughan quietly logged laps for the next several circuits around the 2.66-mile oval. It was during caution on lap 113 that he reported that as the fuel burns off, the car once again starts getting down hard on the nose and then breaks loose.
● The team elected to stop during the caution for tires, fuel and an adjustment. Gaughan made one more trip to pit road to top off with fuel. This set up a situation in which Gaughan could save fuel until the conclusion of the stage and then stay out on the track to secure better track position for the start of the final stage.
● He was in 33rd when green-flag racing resumed on lap 118 and cruised to the end of the stage in 35th place.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-191):
● Gaughan started seventh and finished 21st.
● With the team telling him to “save, save, save,” in regard to his fuel, Gaughan lined up seventh to start the final stage. The Las Vegas-native found himself in the middle lane of the draft and started dropping in the running order. He was able to race as high as fifth before dropping back to 20th by lap 130.
● The caution came out on lap 133 for a single-car accident and the No. 62 Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro was in 26th position. Gaughan reported that the last round of adjustments generated more stability for the car and that he felt good about the car’s ability to race at the front of the field.
● After a pair of trips to pit road for right-side tires and to top off with fuel, Gaughan lined up 31st for the lap-138 restart.
● The caution came out again for another single-car accident. Scored in 30th place, the team elected to make a trip to pit road to top off the fuel.
● Gaughan lined up 30th for the lap-146 restart.
● As the field continued logging laps, Gaughan found himself among a small pack of cars that started to lose pace with the leaders. By lap 160, his pack was 20 seconds behind the leaders, and it continued to lose time. On lap 178, the No. 62 Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro went a lap down.
● Gaughan spent the next few laps keeping pace with the leaders as a means to be the first car one lap down. That effort was rewarded on lap 187 when the caution was displayed for an accident. Gaughan was in the “lucky dog” position and earned his lap back, restarting in 26th after a trip to pit road for fuel.
● It was a wild final three laps with multiple accidents unfolding across the track as the field came to the finish line. Gaughan was able to dodge all of the mayhem and finish 21st.
● Ryan Blaney won the GEICO 500 to score his fourth career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his second at Talladega. His margin of victory over second-place Ricky Stenhouse Jr., was .007 of a second.
● There were eight caution periods for a total of 33 laps.
● Twenty-four of the 40 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
● Kevin Harvick remains the championship leader after Talladega with a 23-point advantage over second-place Joey Logano.
Brendan Gaughan, driver of the No. 62 Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro:
“That’s not the finish we wanted. I’ll 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 really 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. Twenty-first place and not a scratch on it. The good news is it’s going to be a heck of a Chevrolet for Daytona.”
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is a doubleheader June 27-28 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The first race starts at 3:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, June 27 with live coverage provided by FOX. The second race begins at 4 p.m. EDT on Sunday, June 28 with live coverage provided by FS1. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will broadcast both races.
Gaughan and Beard Motorsports’ next race is the Coke Zero Sugar 400 Aug. 29 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. That race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage on NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!