Brendan Gaughan returns home to Las Vegas Sunday for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He is coming off a six-win season on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
Question: You had a successful career on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, including four consecutive victories at the Texas Motor Speedway. How much from the trucks transfers over to stock cars?
Gaughan: A lot of stuff crosses over. One of the great things about the Craftsman Truck Series right now is the competition. At the top of the Craftsman Truck Series there are a lot of great drivers and a lot of great teams. The difference in the Nextel Cup Series is that instead of 15 of them there are 40 of them. You really have to be on your game every day, every lap to stay in front of the 40.
Question: Counting Scott Wimmer at Daytona and Kasey Kahne at Rockingham, N.C., rookies have posted a top-three finish in each of the first two races. Can rookies, including you, continue that kind of effort?
Gaughan: We've been talking all year, and the rookie battle this year is going to be awesome. The biggest thing about it is the race teams they're with. I'm with the Penske/Jasper folks and they're a tough team. They've got Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman as teammates. We haven't had the greatest start to the season like I wanted, but we're going to be pretty good as the season rolls along. All the rookies have great teams: Wimmer with Bill Davis, (Johnny) Sauter with RCR, Kasey Kahne last week with Dodge and Ray Evernham. A lot of great race teams and a lot of great sponsors.
Question: The other rookies come from stock car backgrounds and the bulk of your experience is in trucks. Does that create a sharper learning curve for you?
Gaughan: I don't know. I don't try to base myself off the other rookies. I try to base myself off whatever we're doing that day. The Penske/Jasper guys have really been doing a lot to make the learning curve as flat as possible because I came here with a decent amount of experience. Put (car chief) Billy Wilburn next to (crew chief) Shane Wilson and that takes some of that curve out. Put (consultant) Buddy Baker next to me and that takes a little more of that curve out, plus I have Wallace and Newman as teammates.
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