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Road America win still cherished memory for Gaughan

Should it rain in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series return to Road America in Wisconsin, you might want to put your money on champion Chase Elliott — especially if he learned anything from one of Las Vegas’ native auto racing sons during an Xfinity Series race there on his way up.

Brendan Gaughan passed Elliott on a wet track during an overtime finish for the first of his two wins in NASCAR’s top development series. Gaughan said the 2014 win at the scenic 14-turn, 4-mile circuit which last hosted stock car racing’s premier series in 1956 was one of the most satisfying of his career.

A former driving instructor at Road America, Gaughan said he used to brag to his longtime crew chief Shane Wilson that he was a rain master. Wilson’s retort: Too bad NASCAR rarely races in the rain. After the skies opened that day, Gaughan drove back to the front despite not having a working windshield wiper.

“Twice in the dry I had the lead and twice in the dry I completely choked and went off the course,” the recently retired racer recalled. “I wanted to drive out the tunnel, run down the highway until I ran out of fuel and hitchhike back to North Carolina.”

Instead, he drove into victory lane where he dedicated the win to his late grandfather, Las Vegas casino owner John “Jackie” Gaughan, whose name was on the winning car where the driver’s normally would be.

Gaughan said his only regret was that the race’s previous sponsors, Harley Davidson and the Johnsonville sausage company, had been replaced by an auto parts store. Instead of a motorcycle he received an air compressor for winning.

“Give me a Harley or a year’s supply of brats and I’m good,” Gaughan said. “But that air compressor is in Shane’s shop and it still works.”

Around the horn

— Lights FC is no longer a llama short.

Brent Lashbrook, owner/promoter of Las Vegas triple-A pro soccer franchise, said in addition to fireworks following Saturday night’s game against the Tacoma Defiance at Cashman Field the team also would introduce not one but two replacements for Dottie the Llama, one of the domesticated mascots that died before the team’s 2021 season opener.

The names of the domesticated camelids were being kept a secret. But a well-connected llama source said that they were a mother and her cria (baby) and that they would be called “The Llama Mama” and “Dynamite.” They were expected to join holdover Dollie-Llama, Dottie’s half-sister, in the official starting 11 photograph Saturday night.

— When it was announced Boost Mobile would sponsor Fresno State’s Cavinder Twins (basketball players Hanna and Haley) under the new NIL (name, image and likeness) rules in college sports, one couldn’t help but recall UNLV’s Gonzalez twins, Dakota and Dylan, who in 2017 elected to bypass their senior year with the Lady Rebels to focus on singing and social media careers.

The sisters averaged a combined 23.1 points as juniors but under the old NCAA rules were forced to choose between making money or retaining their amateur status.


Tuesday was the 41st anniversary of a no-hitter (and near perfect game) that longtime Las Vegas resident Jerry Reuss pitched for the Dodgers against San Francisco (the Giants’ only baserunner came via throwing error by shortstop Bill Russell). … Former UNLV and Desert Oasis star Bryson Stott has hit four homers in 25 games since being promoted to the Phillies’ Double-A affiliate in Reading, Pennsylvania, giving him nine for the season in 205 at-bats. … After losing a bet on the Golden Knights-Montreal playoff series to Xfinity Series rival Alex Labbe of Quebec, Las Vegan Noah Gragson wore a Canadiens jersey in Canada corner on the Elkart Lake road circuit, site of this week’s NASCAR races.


“Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.”

— Lou Gehrig, Yankee Stadium, July 4, 1939

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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