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

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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

NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E and Ian James set to race ahead of electric motorsports’ curve

James McLaren Formula E
NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team
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As Formula E enters their ninth season and McLaren Racing is set to compete in last year’s championship winning car, Ian James is passionate about pushing electric motorsports forward at a critical stage as race technology begins surpassing that of the street cars.

Midseason, McLaren acquired the assets of the Mercedes-EQ team as they were already on their way to winning a second consecutive championship. With those assets in place and coming off a successful debut in the Extreme E series, James is set to usher in a new era in electric car racing.

Last week’s announcement that Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast behind the wheel of the NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team was the last piece of the puzzle.

McLaren’s electric portfolio is building with the Formula E team coming one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour. There were a lot of lessons to learn in that series with growing pains during the first three of five rounds. Rounds 4 and 5 were a completely different matter with the team crossing the finish line first in Chile before being assessed a time penalty.

In the final round in Uruguay, they scored an elusive podium.

“McLaren kicked off the season in Extreme E at the beginning of this year, so our first [electric] race took place Neom, actually out in Saudi,” NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team Principal James told NBC Sports. “At the time, we were in very early discussions about opportunities with the Formula E team. I actually went out there to meet with Zak [Brown, CEO McLaren Racing] and that was my first taste of Extreme E.

“Since the transition, I joined them in Chile in Atacama Desert, and then Uruguay last weekend. [The second-place finish was] a lovely way to round out the season. The fact that they got that podium. It was very well deserved. It’s a great team and a great series actually. It’s just so very different from anything else. The team’s done a great job in getting set up, and it’s nice now to, we’re trying to use that momentum that we’ve got from Uruguay to get us into next season when it kicks off next year, which will be great. I think we’re mid-March is looking like the first race, so a little bit of time to get things prepped for that.”

 

James McLaren Formula E
The NEOM Mclaren Racing Formula E Team was created through the acquisition of last year’s championship team from Mercedes-EQ. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

Synergies exist between the single seater and rally series. Lessons learned about battery power and sustainability in the electric SUV carry over so long as one is mindful of keeping focus on the individual needs and nuances of each series.

Especially now that electric racing technology has caught up, and is ready to surpass, the existing technology that has gone into building street cars.

When internal combustion engines gained the upper hand soon after automobiles were invented, racing paced alongside. The pressure of competition pushed the development of their commercial equivalents. The same has not necessarily been true of electric cars. Street cars were not designed to undergo the same stress as racecars – and that vulnerability showed up on the racetrack.

“Formula E has come along a long way,” James said. “I think one of the most notable developments is in the battery technology. In Gen 1, you had the drivers jumping from one car to another car midrace because the battery technology and capacity simply wasn’t where it needed to be to do the full distance. That obviously changed in Gen 2 and we saw a power increase as well to the 250 kilowatts.

“Now going to Gen 3, we have 350 kilowatts in a smaller battery. But that means that we’re relying on the regeneration of energy and for that reason, we’ve got also the opportunity to regenerate on the front axle as well as the rear axle now. So, there’s all sorts of things that are developing in the right direction.

“In terms of throttle response, actually, we’re now in a situation with electric racing and the motors that it’s instantaneous. And one of the advantages of electric over combustion engine is that the torque is instantaneous as well, so that gives you a lot more room to play with.”

No matter the power source, racing has always been about resource management. Drivers and teams select tire strategies they believe produce the fastest elapsed time and fuel conservation comes into play.

On one hand, electric racing is the same, but there is a critical difference. With the battery as both the power source and an integral part of the engine, there are multiple reasons to manage it.

In electric racing, the brain of the car is the software – and that is where James sees the greatest room for advancement.

“As we are working with our drivers and engineers – and start to look at functionality to improve our efficiency and our performance, that’s something we’ll continue to push because that development is open throughout the season,” James said. “That’s going to be our focus going forward and provides enough of a challenge for us to get our teeth into.

“What’s going to be fascinating is as Formula E continues, is to really look at which areas of development on the car are going to be the most relevant and ensuring that we can focus on those together with the manufacturers so we continue and use the series as a platform for technical development that can then feed back into the road car side of things as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what motorsports always been, a very powerful tool for, and I see Formula E as no exception.”

James McLaren Formula E
Jake Hughes and Rene Rast were chosen for their ability to drive fast and execute the necessary strategy for energy management. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

Selecting Rast and Hughes as McLaren’s Formula E drivers was not simply because they know how to drive fast. James believes both drivers have the mental aptitude to execute energy management strategies throughout the race and squeeze maximum performance.

“As with many other motorsports, you’ve got a certain amount of energy that you’re able to deploy during the race and the management of that energy is absolutely crucial,” James said. “What we’re seeing typically in electric motorsports now is the hardware side of things. The efficiencies that we’re seeing in the powertrain as a whole, they’re getting up to the sort of 96%, 97%, 98% efficiency, so the gains that you get through that further and further become more marginal.”

With much more room for improvement, software is a different matter. To make the best decisions, the drivers need data, and that is where James believes McLaren Formula E will make their greatest impact.

“And then you really switch that focus to the software and that’s where you’re going to see the most the most improvement and the most gains,” James continued. “It’s then using that software to ensure that you’re deploying the energy in the most efficient manner during race, and thereby giving the driver the most performance. And that’s something which is incredibly complicated, but I find it a fascinating area to work in.

“The benefit of being involved in racing is you can really push the envelope in a way that you can’t do on road cars. And I think that that’s where that value comes in. It means that you accelerate the development a lot quicker. We will get ahead of the curve – and we are getting ahead of the curve now – and that will mean that the electric motorsports remain part of the overall development process.

“The key to that is also making sure that the racing’s exciting and fun for the fans. If we can, we can tick both of those boxes, then it’s got a very bright future ahead of it.”