Ahead of the 59th running of the Daytona 500 in February, two more teams have thrown their hat into the ring to attempt to make the 40-car field in the Great American Race.
Two of the regulars in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Brendan Gaughan and Elliott Sadler, will try their luck next month at Daytona as they look to make another start in NASCAR’s Super Bowl. Should they make it in, Gaughan would be making his second Daytona 500 start and first since 2004, while Sadler would be making his 14th start and first since 2012.
In an article filed by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Gaughan laid out his plans for the race, saying that he will race for car owner Mark Beard, who has purchased a car driven by Michael McDowell at Leavine Family Racing for the race. Gaughan also noted that the team will use ECR engines for the attempt and will employ Gaughan’s Richard Childress Racing pit crew as well.
“They bought the old Leavine car, they’ve hired ECR to do motors — real racing motors — and they asked if I would be interested. So it’s got Richard Childress motors, and I’m going to have a Richard Childress pit crew — my guys — and so we’re going to the Daytona 500 and see if we can qualify,” said Gaughan.
“It’s very cool; I’m real excited about it. The best part about it is I’m with a stand-alone team, but technically I have teammates — I told (former Xfinity teammates) Ty and Austin (Dillon) they better help me make the damn show.”
As for Sadler, he will be attempting to make the Daytona 500 with Tommy Baldwin Racing, driving their No. 7 Chevrolet for the race. Sadler is coming off of a runner-up finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2016 and should he make the field for the race, he will be making his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start since 2013.
“This is a great opportunity for me and everyone affiliated with Tommy Baldwin Racing. I love the Daytona 500 and to have Tommy and Golden Corral offer me this opportunity is awesome. Tommy and I have known each other a long time. We actually won a qualifying race for the Daytona 500 together back in 2006. We’re gonna rekindle some of that magic and work our tails off to get our car in the race. I know Tommy is putting a lot of effort into this and we’re gonna go out and get the best result we possibly can for him and TBR’s partners,” said Sadler.
Tommy Baldwin Racing shuttered their full-time Cup Series effort at the end of 2016 and sold their charter to Leavine Family Racing, meaning that Sadler will have to either qualify with a fast enough speed in pole qualifying or race his way in through the Duels to claim one of the four spots available for the open teams. Gaughan and his team will have to do the same as they also do not have a charter.
Gaughan’s previous best finish in the Daytona 500 was a 19th place result in 2004; while Sadler’s best finish in the season opener was a second place finish in 2002.