DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Veteran competitor Brendan Gaughan, who previously tested positive for COVID-19, has been cleared to compete by NASCAR.
Gaughan, who announced earlier this year that this would be his final season as a driver, will rejoin the Beard Motorsports team to compete this weekend during the inaugural NASCAR event on the Daytona Int’l Speedway road course.
In order to join the field for Sunday’s race, Gaughan had to have two negative tests more than 24 hours apart while also being cleared by a doctor.
“I feel fantastic. I’m finally out of the house,” Gaughan said. “The toughest part of the whole ordeal was the mental aspect. I truly feel for people who struggle with depression and have to deal with COVID-19, because this thing is tough. You literally get stuck in a location by yourself. Fortunately for me, I had my puppy. I missed my two children tremendously. But it’s amazing now because we live in the age of the Jetsons that we can pick up a phone and look at their faces. And I learned things that I could do. I could get in the car and drive around. I didn’t have to just sit in the house. Advice to other people is if you do get it and have to isolate, you can still get yourself out and isolate and not endanger others. It was very difficult for me because as most people know, I don’t sit still well.”
Originally Gaughan and the Beard Motorsports team were only planning on competing in the four superspeedway events at Daytona Int’l Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, but the chance to race on the Daytona road course was too good for Gaughan to pass up.
“Well, first it’s still Daytona, so it technically counts,” Gaughan joked. “We said all of the Daytona races, so it still counts. What happened is that as soon as it got added to the schedule immediately my mind went, ‘Wow, I would love to race the Daytona road course.’ There’s very few of us Cup drivers that have experience on that race course. And with no practice and no qualifying, that gives about 10 of us a very large advantage over the field. So, I was immediately enticed by it.”
As Gaughan noted, he has previously raced on the Daytona road course. He competed in the, 2011, 2016 and 2018 Rolex 24 sports car event. He was part of the TRG team that won the GT division during the 2011 Rolex 24.
“I talked to the Beard family and said, ‘Hey, you want to add a race to the schedule?’ It wasn’t in the budget. It wasn’t planned originally, but the Beards were on board,” Gaughan said. “They are in the same boat as me. This is a retirement year like me and they are having the same fun I am. They went, ‘Ooohh, we can do well there.’ So we called Richard up and he built me a brand new Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro from RCR that we were able to rent for Beard Motorsports to go race.”
Gaughan has one victory in NASCAR competition on a road course. He earned the first of his two NASCAR Xfinity Series victories at Road America in 2014 while driving for Richard Childress Racing.
The 45-year-old Las Vegas native believes his experience on the Daytona road course and in road racing in general will be key during Sunday’s race.
“Experience is going to be key, especially early. Knowing the people I’m racing around and knowing I’m going to have to come from 40th – that’s the bad news for the No. 62,” Gaughan said. “I’m going to have to come from the back, so I’m going to have to work my way around a lot of people that may have a negative attitude or maybe do struggle with road racing. So, I’m going to have to be careful. I have to keep that Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro completely clean early on. No need to do some damage early because that will make for a long day. I’ve got to be careful, pick and choose my spots, but get as much as I can early because that’s when we are bunched up the most.”