Brendan Gaughan capitalized on the opportunity to utilize the high line on the final restart of Saturday night’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway to win his second NASCAR Nationwide Series race of the season.
Gaughan, with a three-wide pass, powered around leaders Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon in the closing laps and cleared his competition in Turn 1, allowing him to cruise to an eight-tenths of a second lead over Richard Childress Racing teammate Brian Scott.
“I love my restarts,” said Gaughan in Victory Lane. “It was an awesome restart. Shane (Wilson, crew chief) kept telling me that lap times were great when everyone did two and we did four (tires), so it took us a while to get back (towards the lead) there, but four Goodyear tires in the end were the difference.”
On the final restart of the night, Dillon and Elliott battled extremely hard for the win, but they forgot about the guy behind them on four tires. Gaughan with a head of steam used momentum to clear his competition with six laps to go and cruised to his second career NNS win, and first on an oval. He also won June’s road course race at Road America.
Richard Childress Racing swept the top-three finishing positions with Brian Scott second and Dillon finishing third after a dominating performance.
Gaughan, 39, credited his Earnhardt Childress Racing engine and transmission for assisting him in his triumph over the much younger Elliott (18) and Dillon (22).
“There are great race teams and great young racecar drivers, but the old dog still has something left,” said Gaughan.
Scott on the verge of netting his first career Nationwide victory, settled for his best performance of the season after restarting sixth.
“I thought it was the right call to take four tires at the end,” Scott said. “I restarted sixth and got a good restart and got up to fourth and I thought we were going to win this race. But, unfortunately, we didn’t get any long runs and our Shore Lodge Camaro was a little too tight.”
Dillon, who led 155 laps, said, “I’m sick for my guys. Our Bass Pros Chevy was top-notch, it’s a good thing for confidence to lead all those laps, but this hurts for sure.”
Dillon’s dominance would be challenged on Lap 171 when Cody Ware lost an engine. The fifth caution flag of the night proved to be a significant break for the leaders, as they avoided green flag pit stops. On pit road, Dillon exercised a two-tire stop with fuel with Chase Elliott, Michael McDowell and Elliott Sadler also vying for the same strategy.
Racing resumed with Chase Elliott making a valiant effort to overtake the lead from Dillon. He was able to nip ahead of Dillon’s No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, when Eric McClure crashed in Turn 4.
With 19 laps to go, Elliott fended off a challenge from Dillon on the initial restart, but his opportunity to stretch his lead would be short lived, after Regan Smith made contact with Sam Hornish Jr. on lap 184, sending him hard into the Turn 1 wall.
A flawless restart from Elliott allowed the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro to escape the hungry pack behind him. Again, Elliott’s gap would be diminished by yet another caution for debris on lap 190 – which would prove the difference in the race.
Leaving Kentucky, fourth place finisher Elliott holds a 20-point cushion over JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith in the championship standings with six races remaining.
Next up for the NASCAR Nationwide Series is a trip to Dover International Speedway for the running of the Dover 200 on Saturday, Sept. 27. Joey Logano is the defending champion.