Brendan Gaughan and the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet team finished 28th in Sunday afternoon's STP 300 at Chicagoland Speedway after a late-race incident ruined a promising run.
Gaughan started the race from the 10th position and fell into the top 15 during the early laps of the event after he informed the Ernie Cope-led team that the black and yellow Chevrolet was becoming increasingly loose during the early run. Cope instructed the Las Vegas native to pit road during the first round of green-flag pit stops, but another competitor drove in front of the No. 33 Chevrolet forcing him to stay on track for another lap. As Gaughan made his way around the track, the caution flag was displayed allowing the team the opportunity to pit under yellow-flag conditions.
However, Gaughan pitted prior to pit road opening to avoid running out of fuel, incurring a penalty that positioned the team at the tail-end of the longest line in the 14th position for the ensuing restart. As the NASCAR Nationwide Series race continued, Gaughan maintained a position within the top 15 while the team continued to work on the loose-handling condition through the course of three additional yellow-flag pit stops.
During the team's final pit stop, NASCAR officials cited Gaughan for entering pit road too quickly and penalized the driver by having him restart the race on lap 138 from the tail-end of the longest line, in the 14th position. The 37-year-old driver driven drove into the top 10 and was racing side-by-side with another competitor when the car on the bottom grove was spun from behind, pinning the Rheem/Menards Chevrolet against the outside wall.
The late-race incident caused damage substantial damage that could not be repaired, leaving Gaughan to retire from the race five laps shy of the finish, relegating the team to a 28th-place finish.
BRENDAN GAUGHAN QUOTE:
"This was not the finish I was hoping for this afternoon. The Rheem/Menards Chevrolet was really fast and we were on our way to a solid finish when we got caught up in that wreck. I'm really proud of all of the RCR guys. They stuck with me this afternoon as we bounced back from a few setbacks during the race. I'm grateful for the opportunity Richard (Childress) and the folks from Rheem and Menards have given me to drive such great equipment. We will move on from this and focus on our next Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway."