When the green flag waves to commence Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, veteran Brendan Gaughan will reach a milestone of his own. By starting this weekend at Talladega, Gaughan will reach 500 starts between NASCAR’s three national major division series in his swan song season of racing.
A grandson of the late Las Vegas gaming pioneer Jackie Gaughan and the son of Michael Gaughan, owner of South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa, Brendan Gaughan started his racing career with off-road racing, where he won three consecutive Class 10 SNORE (Southern Nevada Off-Road Enthusiasts) championships from 1991-93 before racing in the SODA (Short-course Off-road Drivers Association) series. His first appearance in NASCAR was at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his home track, in the Truck Series, where he drove for Walker Evans and finished 24th. In 2002, he fielded the No. 62 Dodge sponsored by NAPA Auto Parts in the NASCAR Truck Series with his father, where he won his first two career races and claimed the Rookie-of-the-Year title. The following season, while sponsored by Orleans Hotel & Casino, Gaughan won a career-high six races and had the series’ championship lead entering the season-finale event at Homestead-Miami Speedway until he was knocked out following late crash and finished fourth in the final standings.
In 2004, Gaughan was promoted to the NASCAR Cup Series, where he drove the No. 77 Kodak Dodge for Penske-Jasper Racing. He achieved four top-10 results, including a career-best third at Talladega Superspeedway in October 2004, and fell short of the Rookie-of-the-Year title to Kasey Kahne. The following season, Gaughan returned to the Truck Series, where he spent the next four seasons driver between his father Michael and owner Tom Mitchell. While Gaughan did not win the next four seasons, he achieved 11 top-five results, 25 top-10 results and 65 laps led with a best result of 11th in the 2007 standings.
The following two seasons, Gaughan raced in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Rusty Wallace Racing, where he notched six top-five results, 17 top-10 results and one career pole with a best result of ninth in the 2009 standings. After spending the 2011 season racing in the Truck Series with Germain Racing, Gaughan ran a part-time schedule across NASCAR’s three national major division series for Richard Childress Racing in 2012, where he finished in the top five four times in the Truck Series and in the top 10 five times in the Xfinity Series.
After racing the entire 2013 Truck Series schedule with RCR, where he earned 13 top-10 results and a final result of seventh in the championship standings, Gaughan returned to the Xfinity Series in 2014, where he drove the No. 62 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro for RCR. After 98 attempts in the series, Gaughan captured his first Xfinity career win at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, following a late battle with Chase Elliott and Alex Tagliani. Three months later, Gaughan captured his second series win at Kentucky Speedway after battling Elliott and teammates Ty Dillon and Brian Scott. The wins marked his only top-five results of the season despite tallying his top-10 finishes to seven and finishing eighth in the final standings. The following season, Gaughan remained with RCR and went winless, but managed to secure 14 top-10 results and a final result of ninth in the standings. He also competed in eight races for team owner Jay Robinson, scoring a best result of 28th at Atlanta in March and at Daytona in July.
In 2016, the year the Xfinity Series adopted to the Playoff-elimination format as the Cup Series, Gaughan relied on consistency to make the postseason, but was eliminated from title contention in the penultimate round after Phoenix in November. He concluded the season with four top-five results, 16 top-10 results and a final result of 12th in the standings. The following season, Gaughan made the postseason through consistency, but was eliminated following the first round by a single point. He concluded the 2017 Xfinity season with eight top-10 results and a final result of 10th in the standings. In addition, Gaughan competed in four Cup races (both Daytona and Talladega events) while driving the No. 75 Chevrolet for Beard Motorsports, led by crew chief Darren Shaw and owned by former driver Mark Beard, under an alliance with RCR and powered with ECR Engines. Gaughan’s best performance was a seventh-place result at Daytona in July.
The following season, Gaughan retired from full-time racing while electing to compete in all Cup superspeedway races for Beard Motorsports in the No. 62 Chevrolet and in three Xfinity races with RCR and the No. 3 Chevrolet on the road-course events at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Road America and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. His best performances in his seven-race schedule were 12th-place results at the Cup Daytona race in July, the Xfinity Mid-Ohio race in August and the Cup Talladega race in October. The following season, Gaughan remained with Beard Motorsports and competed in all four Cup superspeedway events at Daytona and Talladega. His best finish was an eighth-place result at Talladega in April, but Gaughan’s memorable moment of 2019 was at the second Talladega race in October, where he was battling for the lead before he was swept up in a multi-car wreck and barrel rolled in the air before landing on all four wheels and emerging uninjured. He settled in 27th.
In January of this season, Gaughan announced his retirement from racing after competing the four Cup superspeedway races of 2020 for Beard Motorsports and in the No. 62 Beard Oil/South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. A week before the Daytona 500, Gaughan was one of two competitors driving for non-chartered teams to secure a spot for the 500-mile event based on qualifying speed. A week later, Gaughan avoided a harrowing last-lap wreck involving Ryan Newman to finish seventh in his fifth and final Daytona 500 career start, which also marks his last Cup start to date before this Sunday at Talladega.
In addition to achieving NASCAR start number 500, this weekend will mark Gaughan’s 10th Cup career start at Talladega and one of two opportunities for the veteran to achieve his first win in NASCAR’s premier series in his 64th series start and in an illustrious racing career spanning beyond 20 years with 10 national major division series victories, four poles and 154 top-10 results.
The NASCAR Cup Series will race at Talladega on June 21 at 3 p.m. ET on FOX.