Brendan Gaughan has driven a complete season in Sprint Cup and has 162 starts in the Camping World Truck Series, but at age 34, he's a rookie in the Nationwide Series.
“We've been joking all year,” Gaughan said. “I finished second in the Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year in '04, won the Camping World Truck (ROY) in 2002. I killed the curve in the Nationwide Series for age this year. The average age at the beginning of the year, they told us, was 23 or 24. It would be a whole lot younger if I wasn't there.”
The veteran NASCAR driver with the rookie tag has put his experience to use in his first Nationwide season. Driving for Rusty Wallace Racing, Gaughan is eighth in the points entering Saturday's Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill.
Gaughan finished second at Lowe's Motor Speedway and fourth at Kentucky Speedway but has only three more top-tens in 18 races.
Crew chief Bryan Berry returned from a four-race suspension last week at Chicagoland, and Gaughan believes the work Berry did in the shop during his time away from the track will pay dividends at Gateway, a nearly flat 1.25-mile oval.
“While he (Berry) was gone, he spent a lot of time on the flat-track program, spent basically … a week doing some engineering stuff, what I always call a Bryan Berry science project,” Gaughan said. “Usually, when he does a science project, it works out well for me.
“He's basically coming with some new (suspension) geometry that he wants to try for us at Gateway, similar to what we did at Phoenix (where Gaughan finished seventh) and change a few things around because of how tight Gateway's (Turns) one and two are. When Bryan Berry does his science projects, I get excited.”
Gaughan sees additional progress further down the road in the second half of the season from the team's new technical partnership with Kevin Harvick Inc.
“It's still brand new,” Gaughan said. “You can't really read too much into it so far. Last week, Steven (team-mate Wallace) drove a KHI car that they built for our race team. You can definitely see a lot of differences in the aerodynamics of it.