Despite an ill-handling race car, Rusty Wallace Racing’s Brendan Gaughan (No. 62 South Point Hotel & Casino Toyota) used a superb late-race restart to persevere for a ninth-place finish in Saturday night’s 250-lap NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Richmond International Raceway.
After starting from the 17th position, Gaughan put forth a workmanlike effort throughout much of the race, slowly but steadily advancing forward. By the midpoint of the event, Gaughan had cracked the top-15, being scored in the 14th position. With 25 laps remaining, he had moved into 12th place, where he remained until the race’s final “green-white-checkered” restart on lap 250. Over the final two laps, Gaughan managed to slice his way past three additional cars, en route to a ninth-place finish.
Gaughan’s result in Richmond marked his third top-ten of 2010 and his third in the last five Nationwide Series events. It was his second-best career finish at Richmond in any of NASCAR’s national series.
With his top-ten effort, Brendan Gaughan advanced three positions in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver standings; he now sits ninth overall, 63 points behind eighth place.
Said Gaughan, “We struggled all night long and never quite got a handle on the track. We’d be too loose, then too tight. This was another race where I wanted a restart at the end. We restarted 12th and picked off a few spots; I love restarts. This was another top-10 on a track that I notoriously can’t stand, so I’ll take that as a win tonight. We still need to get better; we’re still not as good as we want yet.”
While it was Gaughan that ultimately led RWR’s charge at the finish in Richmond, for much of the night it appeared as if his teammate, Steve Wallace (No. 66 5-Hour Energy Toyota) was poised for a top-five finish or even better.
After starting from the 19th position, the young driver went on the attack quickly, surging into the top-ten around lap 65. Posting some of the fastest laps on the track, Wallace showed early that he had the speed to contend with the race leaders. Just prior to the 100-lap mark, Wallace out-dueled Cup Series stars Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle to move into the eighth position.
The first pit stop of the day for the No. 66 team came during the lap 107 caution period. Unfortunately, it was then that the No. 66 team’s bad luck streak again reared its ugly head. After a fast pit stop which saw Wallace climb yet another position towards the leaders, NASCAR slammed the team with a penalty for an uncontrolled left rear tire.
Armed with video from the team’s overhead camera, Crew Chief Scott McDougall argued the penalty vehemently, but to no avail. Wallace would thus be sent from the seventh position all the way to the rear of the field for the ensuing restart.
For Wallace, trouble bred more trouble; on lap 113, the left rear tire on his Toyota blew, sending the No. 66 into a spin. He did a solid job of keeping his car off the retaining walls, but barely missed getting his wounded car moving before the leaders reached him. The incident thus put Wallace one lap down to the race leaders.
Determined to regain his lost lap, Wallace put in a valiant effort, but the circumstances would never align to provide Wallace with the “lucky dog” and a chance to race for the win. Despite having one of the fastest cars on the track in Richmond, Wallace was ultimately forced to settle for a disappointing 17th-place finish.
That finish allowed Wallace to maintain the 14th-place ranking in the Nationwide Series driver standings. He currently sits less than 100 points behind teammate Gaughan for the ninth position overall, heading to the legendary Darlington Raceway next weekend.
Wallace noted, “We had a “rocketship” of a Toyota Camry tonight; our car was really, really fast for most of the race, except for when we put scuffed tires on during that last run. We worked very hard on making our car get off of turn two well and it definitely did in the race. I really thought we were going to end up at least in the top-five tonight.
“I don’t know what we have to do in order to finally get rid of all the bad luck we’re having. It’s just unbelievable—all the crazy stuff that has happened to us after starting the year with three straight top-tens. The good thing is that our cars continue to get faster and faster each week; if we can keep that up, hopefully luck will turn our way soon.”
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About Rusty Wallace Racing
North Carolina-based Rusty Wallace Racing (RWR) is a professional auto racing team steeped in the legendary history of its founder, Rusty Wallace—one of NASCAR’s top-ten drivers of all-time. The team currently campaigns the No. 66 and No. 62 Toyota Camrys in the prestigious NASCAR Nationwide Series, driven by Steve Wallace and Brendan Gaughan, respectively. Last season, RWR stood as the only team with multiple drivers among the top-ten in the final Nationwide Series driver standings. For more on Rusty Wallace Racing, please visit the award-winning rustywallace.com.