Brendan Gaughan balanced concern for injured fellow competitor Ryan Newman with excitement after his best effort in the Daytona 500.
Gaughan and the single-car team of Beard Motorsports finished seventh Monday evening after lining up 14th on the race’s second overtime attempt. The finish is just the third top-10 result in team history while also tying their career-best, which had previously been set by Gaughan in the 2017 summer race at Daytona.
“My last Daytona 500, my career-best finish, what an amazing finish,” said Gaughan. “The Beard Oil team, what a great job. I’m so proud of all the guys; we don’t quit.
“Right now, my thoughts are with Newman.”
Newman was involved in a crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500, coming to the checkered flag. As drivers were doing their required post-race media availability, little information was known as emergency personnel were still working to remove Newman from his car.
The No. 62 Chevrolet had to battle back into contention. Having caught a piece of the action when a 19-car accident broke out on Lap 185, Gaughan’s team found themselves subject to the damaged vehicle policy (DVP) while making repairs, and Gaughan also fell off the lead lap. Gaughan received the free pass to get back on the lead lap two cautions later at Lap 200.
“I don’t quit,” said Gaughan. “I’ll never quit. I don’t care what (the car) looks like; I’m never going to quit. The boys, they kept digging on it. We worked the five-minute clock; we got the lucky dog. We did all those things. Once you get back on the lead lap, anything can happen.
“We got on the outside lane and whatever happened on the bottom, I don’t know, but I was glad it was on the top. We took off like a rocketship, and we were sitting with the top five.”
The 44-year-old Gaughan is making his final four NASCAR starts this season. He has been running a limited schedule — only the four superspeedway races — with Mark Beard’s team since 2017, the same year Gaughan ran a full season for the final time.
Monday was Gaughan’s fifth time competing in the Daytona 500. And not only was it his best effort, but it was also the first time he had finished inside the top 10 in the race.
“Twenty-three or 24 years of this and finally a top 10 in the Daytona 500 and a chance to win,” said Gaughan. “The guys didn’t quit. The pit crew didn’t quit. I love the Beard family and thank (them) for the opportunity. For us, this is a big deal. We’re a small team with one employee, a car chief that’s a plumber, and we come home with a top 10 in the Daytona 500.
“I had a shot there at the end to win. That’s Daytona, man! This stuff is wild. I do love this racing. We take this risk, love this risk and we do what we love.”