Pit strategy gets Brendan Gaughan win at Road America

Brendan Gaughan wasn’t proud of his performance in the Gardner Denver 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Road America on Saturday. As a matter-of-fact, he claimed to be embarassed.

“I tried to give the race away three times today, and I’m fully embarassed,” Gaughan said. “They (his No. 62 Richard Childress Racing team) didn’t give up on a jack-off driver.”

Fortunately for Gaughan, though, his crew chief Shane Wilson made the perfect call to bring his driver down pit road for fuel on lap 39. It was the call that resulted in the race win for Gaughan, after the driver ran off track multiple times. It was Gaughan’s first-career win in Nationwide Series competition in 98 races, but it was the ninth win for the duo of Gaughan and Wilson, as they won eight races together in the Camping World Truck Series.

The race started approximately an hour late after light rain left the track to wet for slick tires but not wet enough for rain tires. When the race finally started with slicks on a dry track, Sam Hornish Jr. dominated the first half, taking the lead on lap one and leading a total of 25 laps before giving way to wet conditions and Alex Tagliani.

The yellow flag waved for rain on lap 25, and this time around, the track got wet enough for rain tires. With rain tires installed, Tagliani took over and dominated the second half of the race, leading a total of 19 laps before running out of fuel during the final caution of the race that led to a green-white-checker finish.

While most drivers, including Gaughan, headed down pit road for fuel on lap 39, front-runners like Tagliani, Hornish and Brian Scott stayed out and tried to stretch their fuel they got during the halfway pit stop to the end. When Tagliani ran out during the last caution, Hornish and Scott headed down pit road for fuel. As a result, Gaughan restarted the race with the lead with two laps to go.

During that last caution, Tagliani felt the track was dry enough to warrant a return to racing slicks. On slicks he raced his way up from 21st to second in the final two laps. According to Chase Elliott, Tagliani’s race back toward the front was a little too aggressive.

“He just didn’t show us a lot of respect, I felt like,” Elliott said.

Hornish, still on rain tires, finished 12th. Like Tagliani, Scott also changed back to slick tires, but finished 16th.

Kevin O’Connell finished third, Elliott was fourth, and J.J. Yeley rounded out the top-five. Finishing sixth through 10th were Jeremy Clements, Andy Lally, Landon Cassill, Elliott Sadler and Mike Bliss.

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Tags: Brendan Gaughan NASCAR Road America

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