Four years ago, Daytona International Speedway was the site of Brendan Gaughan’s first NASCAR Cup race as a full-time driver in the series.
He expected it to be a successful rookie year, but the team affiliated with Penske Racing proved to be subpar.
Undaunted, the Las Vegas native returned the following year to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, where he had won eight times from 2002 to 2003 for his family-owned team.
Today marks another change of direction for Gaughan. It will be the first time the 32-year-old will start a truck race driving for a team not owned and operated by his family.
Gaughan will race his No. 10 Ford in the Chevrolet Silverado 250 for Circle Bar Racing as a teammate to longtime friend Rick Crawford.
The transition came after his father, South Point casino owner Michael Gaughan, decided to shut down the team for at least one year after finishing 11th in points with only three top-five finishes.
The younger Gaughan received some driving offers but only considered teams willing to hire his crew chief, Bryan Berry, and six other team members.
“Rick is a good buddy and awesome dude,” said Gaughan, who qualified 28th Thursday for today’s race. “This is the one team I wanted to become part of. He’s my hero for hiring so many of my guys.”
Gaughan has taken an apartment near Charlotte, N.C., to be closer to his new team. His only focus is on driving instead of helping to run a team and solicit sponsorships.
“Yeah, it’s easier. But I’ll still find something to worry about,” Gaughan said. “Rick gets to make all the decisions now.” …
Las Vegas native Kyle Busch will start 21st in the truck race. He also will participate in the Nationwide race Saturday and the Daytona 500 on Sunday in his first Cup points race for Joe Gibbs Racing. …
Erik Darnell won the truck pole for Roush Fenway Racing.
• DIRT TRACKS — Ronnie Williams of Las Vegas won the IMCA Modified feature Saturday during the inaugural event at Death Valley Raceway in Amargosa Valley.
The one-third mile clay oval, located west of U.S. Highway 95 off state Route 373, drew about 60 race cars, including 23 Modifieds.
Other winners were: Donny Berger of Las Vegas, Classic Coupe; Wyatt Earp of Pahrump, Super Stock; Mark Nustad, Mod Mini; Jeff Mitchell, 360 Sprint Car; Michael Lysinger, Mini Stock; Errol Sharon, Micro Sprint; and Mark Dillie, Dwarf Car.
Clark County schoolteacher Dan Fitzgerald finished fourth in Modifieds a week after his racing mentor and father, Dan Fitzgerald Sr., died.
The next event at Death Valley is scheduled for Feb. 23.
• MOTORCYCLES — Chad Reed of Tampa, Fla., will carry a four-race win streak into Saturday’s AMA Supercross event in Houston. …
The AMA Supermoto Series will open its season April 11 and 12 in San Diego. The finale of the eight-race series is set for Nov. 8 in Las Vegas, but a specific venue has not been announced.
• HONORS — NASCAR legend Buddy Baker and 14-time drag racing champion John Force lead this year’s class of inductees into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in Novi, Mich.
Also to be inducted during the Aug. 13 ceremony are open-wheel racing’s Michael Andretti, road racer Richie Ginther, motorcycle champion Wayne Rainey, stock-car driver Paul Goldsmith and aerobatics pilot Betty Skelton.
Contact reporter Jeff Wolf at jwolf@ reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0247.