In a racing career spanning three decades that intentionally began well off the beaten path in off-road before transitioning to the pavement bullrings of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and, ultimately, the gleaming showplaces of the NASCAR Cup Series, Brendan Gaughan has never lacked confidence.
He has backed up his bravado by winning off-road races and championships and scoring 16 victories across multiple NASCAR touring series. And that Rolex on his wrist isn’t from a swanky retail location in his hometown of Las Vegas. It’s from a far more exclusive outlet – the top step of the podium at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway when Gaughan was part of a class-winning drive in the 2011 Rolex 24 sports-car race.
Now a racing veteran at age 45, Gaughan carries the same confidence he did when he entered his first race – the 1991 Twilight 200 off-road race sanctioned by Southern Nevada Off-Road Enthusiasts – into his upcoming start in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona.
Saturday night’s race will mark Gaughan’s fourth NASCAR Cup Series event of the season and his third on an oval. His most recent start came two weeks ago on the road course at Daytona, and his other two races took place on superspeedways – Feb. 17 in the Daytona 500 and June 22 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Gaughan drove his No. 62 Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro to an impressive seventh-place finish in the Daytona 500, tying his best career result at the 2.5-mile oval, first earned in the 2017 Coke Zero Sugar 400.
“When we walk into Daytona, people want to work with us,” said Gaughan of his Beard Motorsports team. “I’ve got a big-thumping ECR motor and a good RCR-built Chevrolet. When we show up, people come and find us and say, ‘Hey, we’ll work with you. We know how good you are.’ It feels amazing, especially knowing what this team goes through to get a racecar on the track.”
Confidence. It comes from going toe-to-toe with the Goliaths of the sport, and Gaughan takes pride in Beard Motorsports’ David-like effort. This throwback race team has proven it can hang with the multicar outfits whose “guys back at the shop” reach into the hundreds.
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 Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and focusing on the superspeedway races at Daytona and Talladega. 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).
There are three key ingredients to success at Daytona – a sleek racecar, a powerful engine, and confidence in one’s ability behind the steering wheel. Beard Motorsports emphatically checks each box. It doesn’t seek glitz and glamour, but it also doesn’t shy away from the spotlight. And when the lights shine bright Saturday night at Daytona, know that this perceived little team that could, instead, views itself as the team that can.