"I'm glad it's there."


Brendan Gaughan of Las Vegas drives the No. 77 Kodak Dodge in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.  The March 7 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at LVMS will be Gaughan's first Cup Series start at his home track. Gaughan was the highest qualifying Raybestos® Rookie for the Daytona 500, earning the 17th starting position. Gaughan is fourth in the Raybestos® Rookie standings, 11 points behind leader Scott Wimmer.

HOW SPECIAL IS IT GOING TO BE TO RACE AT LAS VEGAS IN THE NEXTEL CUP SERIES? "It's going to be very cool but it's also going to be very difficult, with it being the hometown and with the hotels, and our race shop being there. We've already had a million people calling wanting pit passes and this and that and they don't understand: we just don't get those things. Maybe if you are Rusty Wallace you can get a lot more but when you are a Raybestos Rookie they just kind of go 'Hey rookie, we'll get you something to take care of you a little bit.' It's going to be very difficult making sure that we make everybody happy. I'm a guy that likes to keep my buddies happy but it's pretty ugly how many requests I've got right now."

IS THAT GOING TO BE A DISTRACTION DURING RACE WEEK? "No. What's cool about the Penske-Jasper guys is that they've been really good at keeping the distractions for me to a minimum. Yes, we do a lot of media and I like that. They've given me the ability to whenever I need to say hey this is too much for me slow down. They are going to try to do a good job of protecting me and making it where it's not overbearing at home. We want to do well. I'm going to put a lot of pressure on myself to run well there but we're going to go out there and have fun."

AS A DRIVER, DO YOU THINK YOU ARE OPENING UP SOME DOORS FOR DRIVING TALENT IN THE VEGAS AREA?  'I think that there is talent all over the country. The problem with the west coast is that nobody ever noticed it because there were no great racing teams on the west coast for a long time. It took a long time to get Greg Biffle, Ron Hornaday, and Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch out to this level but there's great racing all over the country. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway really facilitates and helps brings rookies out because of The Bull Ring and now there are more racetracks, Irwindale Speedway. There are nice tracks out there now that are helping really get some west coast guys to the front but I don't know that I'm going to help facilitate. The Orleans Racing Team is still there and we're going to have Scott Lynch and a few others, hopefully Kevin Hamlin soon, in our truck for us. I'd like to try to support the west coast talent."

WHEN LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY WAS BUILT, WAS THAT THE DECIDING FACTOR FOR YOU CHOOSING RACING AS A CAREER? "I was bummed about it [smiles]. That was the (location of the) famous Mint 400 racecourse. We raced right under the valley that was there. My dad raced that for 20 years, I raced it for the early part of my career. I was like 'No, that's our race course [smiles].' Richie Clyne and Ralph Engelstad, who was a great man I loved Mr. Engelstad, I loved him to death and knew him my whole life. I didn't know what it was going to do. I was still playing basketball and in college and racing for Walker [Evans] and still didn't know what it was going to do. Man, when I came home and went to dinner with some of the Winston folks and with Rusty Wallace out there and they announced they were getting this and that, it was very impressive. I'm glad it's there."