At 41, Brendan Gaughan is just happy to have a ride to race in each week.
Or, as the driver of the No. 62 South Point Chevrolet put it, “I’m just an old guy who likes to race.”
Gaughan is in the twilight of his racing career, but he’s still competitive in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. And he’s got a chance to win the championship with three races left.
Gaughan faces an uphill battle to reach the championship round, sitting seventh in points and essentially needing a win either in Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway or next week at Phoenix International Raceway.
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Gaughan joked that he wished the points race “was tighter,” since he’s 17 points behind the cutoff. But he knows he can still win it all with a strong Texas run.
Gaughan has four truck series wins at the track, but that hasn’t translated to Xfinity success. He doesn’t have a top-10 finish in nine starts.
But that hasn’t dampened Gaughan’s belief that this could be the year.
“It’s anybody’s race,” he said. “Eight guys have a chance to win the championship right now.”
Leading that charge is veteran Elliott Sadler and budding star Daniel Suarez who are atop the point standings.
Suarez might be the favorite coming into Texas, considering he’s posted top-5 finishes in his past five races, including a win at Dover last month.
“I think I work well under pressure, but we’ll see in the next few weeks,” Suarez said.
Tifft’s full-time ride
Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Matt Tifft will have a full-time ride in the 2017 Xfinity Series.
Tifft, 20, had run a partial schedule in the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series this year. He is a promising young driver who overcame much this season.
Tifft was diagnosed in June with a benign brain tumor and underwent surgery in July. He returned to racing in mid-September.
“It’s still a very real thing in my life,” Tifft said when asked if he’s still rehabbing. “Last week, I went up for my eight-week checkup MRI and it went well by the way, so I still have to do that kind of stuff and it’s still a reminder of the things I have to go through. … It’s amazing to look back and see every month how much it progresses and it will continue to do that.”
As far as signing full-time with JGR, Tifft said: “It’s an incredible opportunity. … I feel like I can grow a lot as a driver with all the information JGR gives me and relying on our teammates and just that ability to race in and out every week.”
▪ Trevor Bayne dropped by the media center to discuss reaching a sponsorship deal with AdvoCare for the next three seasons. Said Bayne, driver of the No. 6 Ford: “It lifts the weight off your shoulders a little so you can continue to build. We’re looking forward to having that stability with a sponsor like AdvoCare.”
▪ Carl Edwards, a three-time winner at Texas, on his chances after a seventh-place run in the spring: “What really matters is what we’ve done lately and fortunately that’s been pretty good so that’s what we’ll look at.”