TALLADEGA, Ala. – In his usual jovial manner, Brendan Gaughan laughed off a wild flip in turn three after looking like he might be able to steal a win in Monday’s 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
After laying low for much of the day in the No. 62 Beard Oil Company/South Point Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Gaughan marched into the top 10 when it counted and was in contention with six laps to go.
The Las Vegas native was getting a huge push up the outside from the Ford of Brad Keselowski when contact between Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kyle Busch sent Busch up the track into the left-rear quarter panel of Gaughan’s machine – hooking him down the banking right in front of the oncoming pack.
That led to a myriad of contenders being eliminated in the wake of the accident, but not before Matt DiBenedetto’s oncoming Toyota impacted the side of Gaughan’s car and sent it into a full 360-degree barrel roll before it landed on all four wheels and came to rest in the third-turn grass.
After being checked out at the infield care center, Gaughan was quick to make sure everyone knew he was uninjured.
“Mother, it’s OK,” Gaughan noted on NBCSN. “It’s just a flip. It didn’t hurt. I promise!”
In regards to the landing from the flip, however, Gaughan was as animated and witty as ever.
“The Russian judge docked me a couple of points; he said I didn’t put them all down at the same time, but politics are nasty right now,” Gaughan joked.
As he reflected on his afternoon, Gaughan broke into another huge smile as he looked back on what he called “maybe the best superspeedway car I’ve ever had.”
“There toward the end, Brad (Keselowski) was pushing the crap out of me and I loved it,” Gaughan noted. “This Beard Oil Distributing Chevy, we ran a great strategy. Darren Shaw, Ron Lewis our spotter, everybody … it was awesome. The 62 was in front for a split second. I was just so proud at that moment.
“Thank you to ECR, Richard Childress, Chevrolet and to Darren and Ron and all the guys on this team. The Beard family, I love them. Doing this the way we do it … it’s just so much fun.”
Despite the optics of the crash, Gaughan dispelled the notion that his end-over-end adventure caused any sort of pain, especially considering his background in off-road racing.
“Listen, I spent three years in off-road racing and we flip flop. The easiest thing you can do is go upside down, because nothing hits hard. That’s the nicest thing about it,” Gaughan explained. “It really doesn’t hurt. When you flip, you just slow down. I’d rather flip than hit a wall any day of the week, I promise.
“It was an easy one; it happens. We were fast right before that!”
Considering his Beard Motorsports team only races the superspeedway events each season, Gaughan was borderline-giddy with the fact that he was not only in contention down the stretch, but pressuring for the biggest prize in American stock-car racing – a win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“I show up four times a year, and people call me crazy for loving this form of racing, but I love racing at Daytona and Talladega. I enjoy the crap out of this and when we come here with this group and the cars and motors they give me, we race for the win. There were six (laps) to go and we had a chance at the win.
“That’s all I can ask for. It is what it is.”
Prior to the weekend, Gaughan had affirmed that he would be back in 2020 at Daytona Int’l Speedway for the season-opening Daytona 500.
Asked if Monday’s flip changes those plans, Gaughan deflected the answer to a higher party.
“You might have to call Michael and Paula Gaughan (Brendan’s parents) and ask that question, because I imagine they’re not too happy right now,” he noted. “In 22 years of NASCAR racing … I flipped a lot in the desert (off-road racing), but I’d never flipped a stock car before today, so my parents may not be too pleased. I’m 44 years old but I still have a mommy and a daddy, and I’ll work on cooling them down!
“It’s gonna take some talking to get my family to let me come back in February, but I’ll try to do it.”
Before he left to head for home, Gaughan flashed one more wide smile and made sure everyone in the area knew he was not only good to go, but “pleased as punch” with how his day went overall.
“How can I be upset?! We came here to win, and we had a chance!” he said. “That’s all I wanted.”