Trivia time! Of the 40 drivers entered in the Go Bowling 235 NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday on the road course at Daytona International Speedway, how many have raced on the twisting circuit that encompasses parts of the 2.5-mile oval? If you said only 10, go to the head of the class.
Of those 10, how many have won on Daytona’s road course? Just one, and his name is Brendan Gaughan, driver of the No. 62 Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro for Beard Motorsports.
Gaughan co-drove a Porsche GT3 with fellow pilots Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly, Wolf Henzler and Steven Bertheau to a class victory in the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona. It was Gaughan’s first visit to the Daytona road course, and in the twice-around-the-clock endurance race, he and his teammates beat the second-place team by a full lap. Gaughan competed in two more Rolex 24s, finishing third in 2016 in the Prototype Challenge class and 14th in 2018 in the Prototype division.
That experience gives Gaughan a definitive advantage in the Go Bowling 235, as there is no practice or qualifying prior to the 65-lap race around the 14-turn, 3.57-mile road course. Thirty drivers will go into the race with zero time on the layout, allowing Gaughan to maximize his experience and put on a show. The 45-year-old racer from Las Vegas will start last in the 40-car field, as a result of his Beard Motorsports team having run only two races so far this year, making it the lowest-ranked team in owners’ points among those entered in the Go Bowling 235.
Beard Motorsports’ original plan for 2020 was to run just the NASCAR Cup Series races at Daytona and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway – four races, all on ovals. But like everyone’s 2020 plans, they changed. When the Daytona road course was added to the schedule in place of Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International due to travel restrictions related to COVID-19, Beard Motorsports decided to take advantage of Gaughan’s road-course exploits at Daytona and enter the race.
A Chevrolet Camaro from Richard Childress Racing (RCR) was delivered to Beard Motorsports a few weeks ago, and the little team that could had a road-course car next to its superspeedway car.
Beard Motorsports has proven to be the little team that could, a modern-day David competing against the Goliaths of the NASCAR Cup Series. Owned by Mark Beard Sr., president of Beard Motorsports and various family businesses, Beard Motorsports has taken a strategic approach to its racing endeavors, forming a technical partnership with RCR and, until deciding to enter the Go Bowling 235, running only the superspeedway races at Daytona and Talladega. With cars constructed by RCR and powered by ECR engines, Beard Motorsports has scored three top-10 finishes, the most recent of which came in the season-opening Daytona 500 where Gaughan finished an impressive seventh.
In a series dominated by multicar teams with hundreds of employees, Beard Motorsports does it with one full-time employee, crew chief Darren Shaw. Its one part-time employee, car chief Drew Mickey, is a fulltime, industrial plumber. And two of the crew members who come in on race weekends – one is a boat captain (Nic Hill) and the other is an automotive body technician (Jack Cagnon). This throwback race team has proven it can hang with the multicar outfits whose “guys back at the shop” reach into the hundreds.
The guy in the driver’s seat has proven to be Beard Motorsports’ biggest asset. In addition to Gaughan’s success turning left and right at Daytona, he has proven adept at all kinds of road courses, a fact punctuated by his NASCAR Xfinity Series win in 2014 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Gaughan started fifth and led twice for eight laps in that race, including the final five tours around the 14-turn, 4.048-mile road course, to hold off road-racing ace and former INDYCAR driver Alex Tagliani to score the victory by .820 of a second.
Gaughan’s road-course prowess and his road-course history at Daytona make him a dark-horse contender and an excellent trivia answer.
On that note, if you’re wondering who the other nine drivers are who have experience at Daytona’s road course, they are:
● Most recent: Kyle Busch (2020 Rolex 24… also competed in 2009 Paul Revere 250)
● Most often: Michael McDowell (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012 Rolex 24s… and 2005 and 2006 Paul Revere 250s)
● Second most: Jimmie Johnson (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Rolex 24s… and 2007 Paul Revere 250)
● Three-timer: James Davison (2014, 2015 and 2016 Rolex 24s)
● Two-timer: Kurt Busch (2005 and 2008 Rolex 24s)
● One-timers: Matt Kenseth (2005 Rolex 24), Timmy Hill (2012 Rolex 24), Clint Bowyer (2013 Rolex 24)
● Back in the day: Kevin Harvick (2002 Rolex 24)
— Beard Motorsports —