Friday, July 21, 2000 | 9:59 a.m.
If it has four wheels under it and a NASCAR decal on it, chances are Brendan Gaughan will drive it.
The aspiring Las Vegas professional stock car racer will compete in his third NASCAR touring series of the season when he makes his Busch Grand National debut this weekend at the NAPA AutoCare 250 at Pikes Peak International Raceway near Colorado Springs.
ESPN2 will carry the race live beginning at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Gaughan, who leads the NASCAR Winston West point standings and also has driven in selected races on the Craftsman Truck tour, said the Busch car may be the most difficult of the three to drive.
His car, the No. 16 NAPA Autoparts Chevy purchased from the Felix Sabates stable, looks identical to his Winston West ride but doesn't have near the power. Gaughan said the difference under the hood is very noticeable.
"It's the same body, but with about 150 less horsepower," the Bishop Gorman and Georgetown University graduate said following a midweek test session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "It's a huge adjustment so that has hurt me not being so familiar (with the underpowered Busch car)."
But, as Gaughan suggested, he would much rather be caught out at testing than at the race itself. He said thanks to the auspices of LVMS and the Richard Petty Driving Experience (which provided him with a fresh set of tires for a second test here this week) he should feel fairly comfortable when the Busch cars hit the track for practice today -- especially given his track record on the moderately banked one-mile oval.
Gaughan qualified on the pole at Pikes Peak in just his second Winston West start.
"(Tuesday) night I struggled a little bit trying to drive this thing," Gaughan said of his first impressions of the Busch car. "But (Wednesday) morning I became a race driver again.
"I want to say a big thank-you to the staff out at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the guys at the Petty school, who take care of me. Everybody's been great in trying to help us out."
Franchitti, who ran midweek in Silverstone after a crash left him in last place Sunday in the CART race in Toronto, is reported to be in the running to succeed Johnny Herbert with Jaguar Racing.
The 27-year-old Franchitti tested for fellow Scot and three-time F1 champion Jackie Stewart. Franchitti drove for Stewart's son, Paul, in the Formula Vauxhall Lotus Championship in 1992 and 1993 and the British Formula Three Championship in 1994. ...
Tony Kanaan's plan to return to the cockpit of Mo Nunn Racing's Reynard-Mercedes in time to defend his championship in Sunday's Michigan 500 is right on schedule.
Kanaan fractured his left forearm and four ribs in a crash June 17 in Detroit. Bryan Herta has subbed for the Brazilian driver in the last three races, but Kanaan is determined to be ready in time for the opening of practice today.
He drove 200 laps in a go-kart Saturday in Indianapolis under the watchful eye of orthopedic specialist Terry Trammell. The doctor, a member of CART's medical team, gave the 25-year-old driver his approval for continuing to prepare for a return.
Final medical clearance must come from Steve Olvey, director of medical affairs for CART, before Kanaan can compete at Michigan Speedway, where he raced to his lone career victory. ...
The Michigan 500 generally is one of CART's most exciting races featuring high-speed, wheel-to-wheel racing and abundant lead changes -- there were a record 62 two years ago. But given only 55,000 tickets have been sold for Sunday's race, interim CART chief Bobby Rahal indicated the series may not return to the isolated track in Michigan's Irish Hills when CART's contract with Michigan International Speedway expires next year. ...
Wallace, the winner of seven NASCAR Winston Cup poles this year, had a fast lap of 181.217 mph during Ford testing Monday. He made the run late in the day under favorable cloudy conditions.
Wallace's 49.664-second lap on the 2.5-mile speedway was three-thousandths of a second quicker than Joe Nemechek's run during GM testing July 12. Jeff Gordon set the track record of 179.612 mph during qualifying for the 1999 race.
On Tuesday, 1997 Brickyard winner Ricky Rudd had the best lap of the second day of Ford testing with a run of 179.592. Wallace's best lap Tuesday was 173.995, 20th overall on the day. ...
Jason Jarrett, the 24-year-old son of Winston Cup champion Dale Jarrett, is turning his Busch Series ride over to Hut Stricklin for a three-race stint beginning this weekend in Fountain, Colo.
Stricklin, 39, has two top-10 finishes in nine Busch Series starts this season. ...
In rolling tribute to his late son, NASCAR driver Kyle Petty plans to replace Adam Petty as permanent driver of the No. 45 car in the Busch Grand National Series later this summer and take the entire team to the Winston Cup ranks beginning in 2001.
Kyle Petty's return to the BGN series fulltime, scheduled to begin at Darlington Raceway on Sept. 2, signals a major restructuring at Petty Enterprises. Petty, 40, will relinquish his seat in the No. 44 Hot Wheels Pontiac Grand Prix, which is scheduled to be driven for the final 11 races of the season by former Cup regular Steve Grissom.
The Bullring at LVMS will host Hoosier Tire Night at the Races. The NASCAR Weekly Racing Series continues with NASCAR Late Models, Grand American Modifieds, Hitchin' Post/Exiss Legend Cars, Chargers, Mini Stocks and Bandoleros.
The NASCAR Late Models will compete in the third of four twin main events held this season. Chuck Trickle captured two wins June 17 in the twin mains. Trickle also won the last 40-lap main event at The Bullring July 8. Dick Cobb, the track and Sunbelt Region points leader, will try to hold off Trickle, who is a mere eight points behind in the standings.
The Bullring's gates open at 5 p.m., and races start at 6:30. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and military and $2 for children 6-12. Children five and under are free. The family four pack is $25. ...
The Strip at LVMS will host Friday Night Drags. High School and Import drivers will compete in bracket eliminations, while other racers will have an open test-n-tune and gambler elimination with a $10 buy-in.
Entry fee for Friday Night Drags is $15 for car and driver and $10 for crewmembers. High-school students can compete for $10 with a valid ID.
Gates open tonight at 5 with racing from 6-11 p.m. Spectator admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and military and $2 for children 6-12. Children five and under are free.