Brendan Gaughan survived two early incidents and a race track dampened by rain for most of the second half as cars drove on rain tires to win the Gardner Denver 200 Fired Up By Johnsonville at Road America.
It was the first time that Gaughan has won a NASCAR race since October 11, 2003 at the Texas Motor Speedway when Gaughan was running full-time in the Camping World Truck Series. That year, Gaughan won six races and was in contention for the championship, until getting taken out by Marty Houston during the season finale at Homestead. Gaughan has eight career wins in the Camping World Truck Series.
It was just the third time in NASCAR history that a race has been run in the rain. The other two were in Montreal in 2008 and 2010, also on a road course.
Gaughan admitted loving racing in the rain. Perhaps this was the spark that Gaughan needed to ignite his drive to the win, to overcome his misfortunes early in the race. Thankfully for Gaughan, he did not do much damage to the car, other than using his grille as a lawn mower. It was Gaughan’s first win on the Nationwide circuit in 98 attempts.
“I love racing in the rain. It’s fun,” said Gaughan. When you are good at it, it makes it even more fun.”
On Lap 51, Gaughan passed Chase Elliott for the lead, who was able to hold off Elliott’s aggressive driving style for the victory. Elliott got to Gaughan’s bumper a couple of times, but nothing was going to deter Gaughan from the prize.
Alex Tagliani appeared to be the driver to beat, but ran out of fuel on lap 49. Tagliani stormed from 22nd on the green-white-checkered to finish 2nd.
If Justin Marks had not run out of fuel to bring out the caution, it’s likely Tagliani would never have had a chance to make the charge. “It was pretty intense,” Tagliani said.
Tagliani started the race from the pole position, hoping to become the fourth driver to win from the pole in the last five Nationwide races at Road America, but no cigar.
Kevin O’Connell finished third, followed by Elliott and J.J. Yeley.
Rounding out the top 10 were Jeremy Clements, Andy Lally, Landon Cassill, Elliott Sadler, and Mike Bliss.