Brendan Gaughan takes lead with 6 laps to go, wins Nationwide at Kentucky

Leave a comment

Following a frenetic final restart with seven laps to go, Brendan Gaughan emerged with the lead and went on to win his second NASCAR Nationwide Series race of the season Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.

Gaughan took the restart in fourth behind leader Chase Elliott, Ty Dillon, and Brian Scott but quickly moved to third and took advantage of Elliott and Dillon’s hard battle for the lead.

While Elliott and Dillon’s fight raged on the front stretch, Gaughan roared by Dillon for second and on the next lap down the backstretch, he pulled side-by-side with Elliott. Gaughan then grabbed the lead off Turn 4 and never looked back.

“I love my restarts,” a joyful Gaughan told ESPN in Victory Lane. “…It means a lot [to win on an oval], especially the way we did it passing Chase Elliott and my teammate Ty Dillon – great race teams, great young race car drivers. [But the] old dog still had a little something left.”

Scott fought to finish second while Dillon held off Elliott for third, ensuring a 1-2-3 finish for Richard Childress Racing in the Bluegrass State. Regan Smith completed the Top 5.

Dillon had dominated Saturday’s race before a caution came out with 31 laps to go for Cody Ware’s blown engine. In the ensuing pit stops, Dillon managed to keep the lead.

But Elliott rose up to challenge Dillon on the restart with 26 laps left and was able to take the lead before another crash in Turn 3 quickly brought out the yellow again.

Elliott then nailed the next restart with 19 to go, while Dillon lost second to Michael McDowell. One lap later, Smith got into the back of Sam Hornish Jr. and sent the former Indianapolis 500 winner into the wall, bringing out another caution.

Dillon won a three-wide battle for second on the restart with 15 laps to go before a wayward tire carcass from Landon Cassill’s car settled on the front stretch to force the caution again and set up the final restart.

Understandably, Dillon was a bit somber after leading a race-high 155 laps but being unable to close the deal.

“These restarts are so tough, and I thought the top was the way to go,” he said. “I spun the tires a little bit [on the restart with 26 to go] and [Elliott] was able to get around us. Right before the caution came out, he had the nose on us, so that put us behind.

“All those cautions gave my teammates with four tires an opportunity to get up to the front. It’s just hard racing. I’m sick for my guys, I really am…It’s a good thing to lead all those laps for confidence, but it hurts for sure.”

However, Dillon congratulated his teammate Gaughan on a job well done, and so did Elliott.

“These cars are under-powered and aero becomes a big deal, and on the restarts, when you get the side draft on those guys and the guy behind you get such a great run, it’s hard to hold them both of ’em off,” he said of the final restart.

“Congrats to Brendan. It was cool to see those guys get the job done tonight.”

Elliott extended his championship lead slightly over JR Motorsports teammate Smith to a 20-point margin this evening. Dillon remains third in the standings, down 38 markers.

Six races remain in the 2014 season, with a trip to the one-mile, high-banked Dover International Speedway coming next Saturday afternoon.

NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES AT KENTUCKY – VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300
Unofficial Results

1. 62- Brendan Gaughan, led 22 laps
2. 2-Brian Scott
3. 3-Ty Dillon, led 155 laps
4. 9-Chase Elliott, led 20 laps
5. 7-Regan Smith
6. 33-Cale Conley
7. 60-Chris Buescher
8. 22-Michael McDowell
9. 20-Justin Boston
10. 80-Ross Chastain
11. 16-Ryan Reed
12. 42-Dylan Kwasniewski
13. 11-Elliott Sadler
14. 99-James Buescher
15. 6-Trevor Bayne
ONE LAP DOWN
16. 4-Jeffrey Earnhardt
TWO LAPS DOWN
17. 39-Ryan Sieg
18. 5-Austin Theriault
19. 43-Dakoda Armstrong
20. 31-Chase Pistone
THREE LAPS DOWN
21. 51-Jeremy Clements
22. 93-Kevin Swindell
23. 28-J.J. Yeley
24. 19-Mike Bliss
25. 44-Blake Koch
26. 40-Matt DiBenedetto
27. 55-Jamie Dick
FOUR LAPS DOWN
28. 52-Joey Gase

29. 01-Landon Cassill, Lap 191, Vibration
30. 54-Sam Hornish Jr., Lap 186, Accident
31. 14-Eric McClure, Lap 170, Accident
32. 23-Cody Ware, Lap 159, Engine
33. 70-Derrike Cope, Lap 45, Rear Gear
34. 17-Tanner Berryhill, Lap 36, Vibration
35. 72-Harrison Rhodes, Lap 33, Suspension
36. 89-Morgan Shepherd, Lap 17, Vibration
37. 87-Josh Reaume, Lap 9, Rear Gear
38. 74-Mike Harmon, Lap 9, Transmission
39. 46-Ryan Ellis, Lap 6, Vibration
40. 10-Jeff Green, Lap 3, Vibration

Behind the scenes of how the biggest story in racing was kept a secret

Leave a comment

In a world where nobody is able to keep a secret, especially in auto racing, legendary business leader and race team owner Roger Penske and INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles were able to keep the biggest story of the year a secret.

That was Monday morning’s stunning announcement that after 74 years of leadership and ownership of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Hulman George Family was selling the track, the Indianapolis 500 and INDYCAR to Penske.

In an exclusive interview with NBC Sports.com on Thursday, Miles revealed the extreme lengths both sides went to so that nobody found out about this deal ahead of time. That included meeting with Penske at his Detroit offices early on Saturday mornings and late on Sunday nights.

The most important way of keeping it confidential was containing the number of people who were involved.

“We thought it was important to keep it quiet until we were ready to announce it,” Miles told NBC Sports.com. “The reason for that is No. 1, we wanted employees and other stakeholders to hear it from us and not through the distorting rumor mill.

“That was the motivation.

“We just didn’t involve many people. For most of the time, there were four people from Roger’s group in Michigan and four people from here (IMS/INDYCAR) involved and nobody else. There were just four of us. We all knew that none of the eight were going to talk to anybody about it until very late.”

Even key members of both staffs were kept out of the loop, notably Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles, who admitted earlier this week he was not told of the impending sale until Saturday when he was at Texas Motor Speedway for the NASCAR race.

Both Penske and Miles realize the way a deal or a secret slips out is often from people far outside of the discussions who have to get called in to work to help set up an announcement.

Miles had a plan for that scenario, too.

“On Saturday, we had to set up a stream for Monday’s announcement,” Miles said. “We came up with an internal cover story so if anybody saw what was going on, there was a cover story for what that was, and it wasn’t that announcement.

“The key thing was we kept it at only those that needed to know.”

It wasn’t until very late Sunday night and very early Monday morning that key stakeholders in INDYCAR were informed. Team owner Bobby Rahal got a call at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Racing legend Mario Andretti was also informed very early on Monday.

At 8 a.m. that day came the official word from Hulman & Company, which owns the Indianapolis 500, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and INDYCAR as well as a few other businesses, that Penske was buying the racing properties of the company. It was an advisory that a media conference was scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It was a masterful move by both Penske and Miles.

Penske is already famous for keeping one of greatest secrets in racing history in 1993 and 1994. That is when his famed racing team along with Ilmor Engineering created “The Beast” – a 209 cubic-inch, pushrod engine that was designed, developed and tested in total secrecy. A small, select group of Team Penske mechanics were involved in the top-secret project and were told by Penske that if word of the engine leaked out, “it would be like cutting your paycheck.”

Nobody talked.

History repeated itself with the biggest racing story of the 21st Century, the sale of the world’s most famous race course that hosts the largest single-day sporting event in the world – the annual Indianapolis 500.

When INDYCAR held its “Victory Lap” award ceremony on Sept. 26 in Indianapolis, Miles told the crowd of an impending announcement that would be big news for the sport.

Was he coming close to giving away Monday’s announcement?

“No, that was about a sponsor announcement that will be coming along later,” Miles said on Thursday night.

Penske is one of America’s greatest and most successful business leaders. He is also the most successful team owner in auto racing history with 545 wins in all forms of racing including a record 18 Indianapolis 500 wins, a record 16 NTT IndyCar Series championships as well as two Daytona 500 wins and two NASCAR Monster Energy Cup championships just to name a few.

Penske was not the only bidder, but he was the one who made the most sense to the Hulman George Family, because it was important to find an owner who believed in “stewardship” of the greatest racing tradition on Earth more so than “ownership” of an auto racing facility and series.

“There were a number of parties that were engaged in thinking about this with us,” Miles revealed to NBC Sports.com. “There were a couple that got as far as what I call the ‘Red Zone.’

“Then, Tony George reached out to Roger Penske on Sept. 22.

“Price and value were always important, but the thing that nobody could match was the attributes that Roger could bring to the table, in terms of his history of the sport, his knowledge of the sport, combined with his business sense.

“He was viewed as the leader from a legacy or stewardship perspective, which was a very important factor.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

McLaren IndyCar boss breaks down team’s first test since missing Indy 500

Arrow McLaren Racing SP Photo
Leave a comment

McLaren Sporting Director Gil De Ferran left Sebring International Raceway last Tuesday with a much happier outlook than when he left the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 19.

That was when McLaren and famed two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso arrived at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ill-prepared. They failed to make the 33-car starting lineup for the 103rd Indianapolis 500.

That day in May, De Ferran vowed that McLaren would return.

Last Tuesday, what is now known as Arrow McLaren Racing SP after purchasing into Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, De Ferran was back to evaluate the team’s NTT IndyCar Series effort.

Instead of Alonso in the cockpit, it was the team’s recently named full-time drivers for 2020 at the test. That included 20-year-old Pato O’Ward of Monterrey, Mexico, the 2018 Indy Lights champion and 22-year-old Oliver Askew of Jupiter, Florida, the 2019 Indy Lights champion.

O’Ward was in the car for the test with Askew watching from the pit area.

“Pato did a great job, did not put a foot wrong, got on to it straight away and it was all good,” De Ferran told NBC Sports.com. “It was a positive day on all fronts. To work together, to build the team together and embark on this team together was very positive.”

De Ferran is a two-time CART champion with titles in 2000 and 2001 when he was with Team Penske. He also won the 2003 Indianapolis 500 for Team Penske before retiring as a driver at the end of that season.

Since then, he has been involved in numerous Formula One, IndyCar and Sports Car efforts. As McLaren’s Sporting Director, De Ferran is involved in both Formula One and IndyCar.

Arrow McLaren Racing SP also includes partners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson. Arrow also has a financial stake in the team in addition to serving as sponsor.

The chance to work with two young drivers is something that has De Ferran excited.

“They are both very young, but they have been around for a while,” De Ferran said. “It’s not like these guys are completely clueless about racing. They have been racing ever since they were kids. Generally speaking, as a trend in motorsports, they start much younger than I did. They move to cars at a younger age and tend to reach this level of the sport at a younger age then when I was coming up.

“Although they don’t have a lot of experience in IndyCar, several members of the team can help in their development. These guys are very accomplished and top-level guys. They have won a lot of races and championships before getting the nod from our team.”

Last week’s test was part of INDYCAR’s evaluation of the new aeroscreen that will be on all cars beginning in 2020. Arrow McLaren Racing SP is a Chevrolet team. Honda team Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan also participated in the test with four-time Champ Car Series champion Sebastien Bourdais as the driver.

This was the only test that Arrow McLaren Racing SP will conduct in 2019. Testing time is severely limited De Ferran said it won’t be back on track until the 2020 regulations take effect.

Arrow McLaren Racing SP has already experienced some controversy after the team said several weeks ago that popular driver James Hinchcliffe would not be driving for the team. He remains on the payroll and is expected to be at the track in a public relations capacity.

That has angered many IndyCar fans who are huge fans of the popular Canadian driver.

“I have nothing more to add to this than what was said at the time,” De Ferran told NBC Sports.com. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s head-down. We have to go racing. We are on a journey here together with this partnership and two young drivers that are very accomplished and have a lot of talent. Our job is to deliver the results on the track.

“That is where my focus is. I’m completely focused on improving every aspect of everything that we do trackside.

“One thing I guarantee you, whatever we start, to have that focus to improve everything that we do we will continue to move forward. It was like that when I was driving, and it was like that throughout my professional career away from the cockpit. We will keep looking for opportunities to improve.

“Eventually, good things will happen.”

It was just Day One on the track, but after seeing this team struggle at last year’s Indianapolis 500, McLaren took its first step in returning as a full-time NTT IndyCar Series team.

“This is the beginning of a journey that we embarked on several months ago now and you do a lot in the background,” De Ferran said. “The guys from SPM and us have put a lot into this partnership. Behind the scenes, we have been working hard together.

“We’re all racers, man. We want to see cars on track. This has been like a little check off the box and it feels good that we were on track.

“We have a long journey ahead, but it’s good to be working together, at the race track, how the car is handling, the engine is working and how the drivers do.

“First day on the track for Arrow McLaren Racing SP. It’s a good day.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500