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Archive for Thursday, March 14, 2002

From college athletics to professional motorsports, Brendan Gaughan has been a winner in many fields

March 14, 2002

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Brendan Gaughan has enjoyed success in just about every sport he's played.

But unlike many race car drivers, Gaughan's resume is a lot more varied and extensive.

Yes, like most in the sport, he grew up with racing. He started when he was 15. But he also played more traditional sports, such as football and basketball, earning a spot on the varsity teams at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

He always stayed focused on racing, however, working his way through NASCAR's Touring series.

Gaughan, a two-time Winston West series champion, joined NASCAR's Truck series this season as a rookie. The series, off since the season opener last month at Daytona, resumes this week with Friday's Craftsman Anniversary 200 at South Carolina's Darlington Raceway.

"My whole family played sports," Gaughan, 26, said. "My brothers played football, basketball and wrestling in high school. My dad raced and played college basketball on a JV team in the 1960s. We have a very competitive family, maybe almost to a fault."

Although racing was Gaughan's passion growing up in Las Vegas, he got an opportunity many high school players would crave  a chance to play basketball and football at Georgetown.

He joined the basketball team as a "practice player" but soon became a regular on varsity. He played three seasons (1994-1997), with current NBA players Allen Iverson and Othella Harrington.

Gaughan started just one game, but played in 25 in his career, and Georgetown advanced to the NCAA tournament each season. Gaughan also played for the Hoyas' football team, which was making a transition to NCAA Division I-AA status.

Gaughan, who visited with Harrington at an Orlando Magic NBA game during Speedweeks, said his teammates were well aware of his racing background.

"Our races were on ESPN back then, the off-road ones, and every once in a while we'd catch a race on TV and the guys would look at me and say, 'You're crazy,'" Gaughan said.

Gaughan returned to Las Vegas in 1997 with his degree in business management from Georgetown and soon began to advance his racing career. He continued to work with legendary off-road racer Walker Evans, who helped Gaughan get started in the Winston West series in 1998.

He progressed quickly, winning the series championship in 2000 and 2001.

Much like current Winston Cup stars Kevin Harvick (1998 Winston West champion) and Kurt Busch (1999 Southwest series champion), Gaughan hopes to make Winston Cup his ultimate goal.

"NASCAR built the tier system to help people get to where they want to go," Gaughan said. "I think it's neat. If you follow the tier system, NASCAR helps you. The guys that can do it always seem to rise up."

Gaughan is accustomed to success in whatever sport he participates in, and he expects nothing less with his venture in NASCAR's Truck series.

"We are funded enough; we have a good enough team where our goals are to win rookie of the year first, and second, be in contention at the end of every race," he said. "If we're in the top three or four in points [when the series hits a three race stretch in the west], we have a chance to win a championship."

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