Brendan Gaughan joined Beard Motorsports at Daytona International Speedway for his second Daytona 500 appearance. Gaughan, who made his first ‘Great American Race’ start in 2004, piloted a car that Michael McDowell finished 15th in last year’s race under the Levine-Family Racing banner, per Jayski.
The native of Las Vegas sat 33rd on the timing sheet after qualifying last weekend at the 2.5-mile oval. Gaughan ended round one of the session as the fastest open car, which guaranteed him a starting spot in the 59th annual event. Elliott Sadler, the second fastest open team driver in 36th, also locked himself into the 500-mile race. This meant that Gaughan would start 15th in the first Duel 150 on Thursday.
Knowing that he’s already locked into the event, Gaughan just needed a steady race.
He would do just that by taking his No. 75 Beard Oil Disturbing Chevrolet to a 17th-place finish in his Duel 150. It would place Gaughan 39th out of 40 cars on the Daytona 500 starting grid.
Daytona International Speedway is one of two tracks that all small teams circle on their calendar. It’s a track where a driver can go from the back of the field to the front rather quickly. A driver can also lose positions just as quickly if they lose the pack for whatever reason. Knowing this, Beard Motorsports knew that they could have a chance just as everyone else.
The 41-year old veteran racer had a clean day going for him in the ‘Great American Race’ until just beyond the halfway point. On lap 129, four laps after the field began the final stage of 80 laps, Gaughan was one of the 17 drivers who got into a crash over on the backstretch. Despite this, as the crash ended the day for several key drivers, the No. 75 team would continue battling.
A mere 14 laps later Gaughan would be involved in another accident on lap 143. Like the one on lap 129, it would involve over 10 drivers and end the day for several key favorites. Still battling, Gaughan and the No. 75 crew did not give up after this one.
He would stay clean through the rest of the way in the final 52 laps.
When all done, Gaughan would take the small racing operation to an 11th-place finish in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series opener. The Las Vegas native will leave the 2.5-mile oval with his best finish in the prestigious stock car race. In 2004, Gaughan finished 19th in his No. 77 Dodge.
“I enjoy racing here. I am grateful to Beard Motorsports folks for the opportunity in this Chevy with ECR power,” Gaughan said after the race. “I had a top-10 until about 10 feet before finish line. I wish I could have got that for them. But now I go to Atlanta and focus on the day job-the championship in the Xfinity Series."
Gaughan had somewhat of a NASCAR XFINITY Series feel all weekend. That is because he had his NASCAR XFINITY Series over the wall pit crew to make sure everything went smoothly pit stop wise.
It isn’t the first time that Mark Beard has had his name in the world of NASCAR. In 1982 and 1986, Beard made two starts in the NASCAR XFINITY Series as a driver. His best finish of those starts came at Daytona International Speedway in 1982 with an 18th-place finish. In 1990 and 1991, Beard fielded a car as an owner with numerous drivers in the series.
Clay Rodgers made seven ARCA Racing Series starts for Beard recently from 2009 through 2012. Of those seven starts, Rodgers took the team to one top five and three top 10 finishes. Rodgers best finish for the team came at Iowa Speedway with a fourth-place finish.
The racing team told fans to stay tuned when asked if they’ll run anymore Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races this season on Twitter.