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
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