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Sunday July 24th, 2016 4:44AM

Brendan Gaughan wins at rainy Road America

By The Associated Press
  Contact Editor
ELKHART LAKE, WI - Tiptoeing at high speed around a rain-slicked track under the pressure of a two-lap overtime, Brendan Gaughan handed away the lead to Chase Elliott. Then he snatched it right back a few corners later.<br /> <br /> He'd still have two more drivers to hold off on the final lap - including a last-ditch charge from Alex Tagliani, the man who appeared to have the race all but won with a little more than a lap left in regulation.<br /> <br /> Gaughan already had gone sliding off the track a couple of times earlier. Oh, and his team forgot to bring a windshield wiper to install on his car. Through all that, Gaughan held on to win a rainy and wild NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Road America on Saturday.<br /> <br /> "I love racing in the rain," Gaughan said. "It's fun. And when you're good at it, it makes it even more fun. I haven't smelled blood in a long time. That's been something I've been lacking lately is that killer attitude. When it started to rain, even without the wiper blade, I started to smell blood and said, 'I'm coming.'"<br /> <br /> Gaughan won for the first time in the series, breaking through in his 98th career start.<br /> <br /> Tagliani was second, followed by Kevin O'Connell, Elliott and J.J. Yeley as NASCAR drivers got a rare opportunity to race in the rain. It was the third time in Nationwide history that grooved rain tires have been used in a race; the previous two were in Montreal. NASCAR only uses rain tires on winding road courses, not on oval tracks.<br /> <br /> The rain added a tense new dimension to racing at Road America, a four-mile road course where the Nationwide Series already had shown an ability to put on a good show.<br /> <br /> "As we showed today, you can put on a hell of a race in the rain," Gaughan said.<br /> <br /> After watching his chance to win the race in regulation fizzle out, Tagliani - who was leading when a late caution came out, ran out of gas and refueled his car - nearly charged all the way back to the lead when his crew put him back on slick tires to attack the drying track.<br /> <br /> "It was pretty intense," Tagliani said. "The wet was tricky, but obviously we were good. So I don't know. Maybe I threw a bad spell on myself because I was saying, 'It's impossible that I'm going to win this race. Something's going to happen.' On the white flag, something happened."<br /> <br /> Added Gaughan: "(Give) Tagliani one more lap, the track was dry enough that he would have probably got to us. It worked out in our favor."<br /> <br /> It was an impressive finish for Elliott, an 18-year-old rookie and the son of NASCAR icon Bill Elliott. But he wasn't exactly patting himself on the back after the race. He missed most of Friday's practice after missing a shift and causing his crew to change engines, briefly slid off the track earlier in Saturday's race, then felt like the threw away a shot at a win.<br /> <br /> "Failure No. 3 on the weekend for me," Elliott said in a radio interview. "Missed shift yesterday, ran off the track, and then couldn't get the job done. I'm going to have to step up."<br /> <br /> The race started a little more than an hour late, as NASCAR officials waited for a slightly damp track to dry out; the grooved rain tires are designed to work best in full wet conditions.<br /> <br /> Slightly heavier rain then began to fall just before the race's halfway mark, causing the race to go under caution for a few laps before instructing teams to put on rain tires - resulting in a rare test of NASCAR drivers' skills in the rain.<br /> <br /> "It was ridiculous," Elliott said. "It really was. It was a handful."<br /> <br /> <b>NASCAR Nationwide Series<br /> Road America - Elkhart Lake, WI<br /> Gardner Denver 200 - June 21, 2014</b><br /> <br /> <b>(Start position in parentheses)</b><br /> <br /> 1. (5) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 53 laps, 110.3 rating, 47 points, $46,900.<br /> 2. (1) Alex Tagliani, Ford, 53, 129.1, 43, $47,525.<br /> 3. (26) Kevin O'Connell, Chevrolet, 53, 83.3, 41, $30,175.<br /> 4. (12) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 53, 104.3, 40, $31,025.<br /> 5. (22) J.J. Yeley, Dodge, 53, 86.8, 39, $28,725.<br /> 6. (13) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 53, 82.1, 38, $22,500.<br /> 7. (10) Andy Lally, Chevrolet, 53, 84.9, 37, $21,550.<br /> 8. (25) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 53, 73.5, 36, $20,225.<br /> 9. (11) Elliott Sadler, Toyota, 53, 89.3, 35, $19,950.<br /> 10. (17) Mike Bliss, Toyota, 53, 73.3, 34, $20,975.<br /> 11. (19) Matt DiBenedetto, Chevrolet, 53, 60.5, 33, $19,600.<br /> 12. (4) Sam Hornish Jr., Toyota, 53, 127.4, 34, $22,925.<br /> 13. (3) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 53, 107.8, 31, $19,675.<br /> 14. (20) Kenny Habul, Toyota, 53, 75, 30, $19,300.<br /> 15. (35) Carlos Contreras, Toyota, 53, 74.1, 29, $19,875.<br /> 16. (6) Brian Scott, Chevrolet, 53, 105.1, 28, $19,150.<br /> 17. (18) James Buescher, Toyota, 53, 62, 27, $19,250.<br /> 18. (9) Chris Buescher, Ford, 53, 74.3, 26, $18,950.<br /> 19. (7) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 53, 83.8, 25, $18,875.<br /> 20. (23) Eric McClure, Toyota, 53, 54.9, 24, $19,525.<br /> 21. (14) Ryan Reed, Ford, 53, 80.2, 23, $18,750.<br /> 22. (27) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, accident, 52, 57.9, 22, $18,705.<br /> 23. (36) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, accident, 52, 57.8, 21, $18,670.<br /> 24. (8) Justin Marks, Chevrolet, 52, 95.1, 20, $18,610.<br /> 25. (16) Dakoda Armstrong, Ford, 51, 49.9, 19, $19,040.<br /> 26. (2) Dylan Kwasniewski, Chevrolet, 49, 91.7, 18, $19,255.<br /> 27. (15) Trevor Bayne, Ford, accident, 41, 83.2, 18, $18,470.<br /> 28. (28) Tanner Berryhill, Dodge, 39, 36.1, 16, $12,440.<br /> 29. (31) Bobby Reuse, Chevrolet, engine, 34, 40.4, 15, $12,405.<br /> 30. (34) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, transmission, 22, 43.8, 14, $18,660.<br /> 31. (29) Tommy Joe Martins, Dodge, transmission, 17, 41.1, 13, $12,315.<br /> 32. (21) Stanton Barrett, Ford, accident, 10, 47.4, 12, $18,270.<br /> 33. (38) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, transmission, 4, 36.4, 11, $12,240.<br /> 34. (24) Ryan Ellis, Chevrolet, ignition, 2, 33, 10, $12,220.<br /> 35. (33) Carl Long, Chevrolet, rear hub, 2, 31.3, 9, $12,184.<br /> 36. (30) Jeff Green, Toyota, vibration, 1, 29.5, 8, $11,255.<br /> 37. (32) Tim Schendel, Chevrolet, water pump, 1, 27.8, 7, $11,235.<br /> 38. (37) Kevin Lepage, Dodge, rear gear, 0, 26.1, 6, $17,216.<br /> <br /> <b>Race Statistics</b><br /> <br /> <b>Average Speed of Race Winner:</b> 76.600 mph.<br /> <br /> <b>Time of Race:</b> 2 hours, 48 minutes, 3 seconds.<br /> <br /> <b>Margin of Victory:</b> 0.820 seconds.<br /> <br /> <b>Caution Flags:</b> 4 for 10 laps.<br /> <br /> Lead Changes:</b> 7 among 4 drivers.<br /> <br /> <b>Lap Leaders:</b> S.Hornish Jr. 1-13; B.Gaughan 14-16; S.Hornish Jr. 17-27; T.Bayne 28; S.Hornish Jr. 29; A.Tagliani 30-48; B.Gaughan 49-53.<br /> <br /> <b>Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led):</b> S.Hornish Jr., 3 times for 25 laps; A.Tagliani, 1 time for 19 laps; B.Gaughan, 2 times for 8 laps; T.Bayne, 1 time for 1 lap.<br /> <br /> <b>Top 10 in Points:</b> 1. R.Smith, 516; 2. E.Sadler, 506; 3. C.Elliott, 505; 4. T.Dillon, 475; 5. B.Scott, 458; 6. T.Bayne, 453; 7. B.Gaughan, 410; 8. C.Buescher, 388; 9. J.Buescher, 388; 10. L.Cassill, 368.
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