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Motor Sports
Mark Bechtel
April 29, 2002
Heavy HeartsOwner Jack Roush's plane crash sent a shock through his resurgent racing team
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April 29, 2002

Motor Sports

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Iverson's Truck Buddy
A Former Hoya Is Burning Rubber

Brendan Gaughan is the only stock car driver who can say that back in the day he regularly smacked around Allen Iverson on the basketball court. Gaughan may not look the part, but the 5'9", self-described "pretty slow" Craftsman Truck Series driver played on Georgetown's hoops team with Iverson from 1994 to '96.

Gaughan developed his toughness while growing up in Las Vegas with two older brothers. "We used to play catch with a football in the backyard," he says. "If you caught the ball, they'd knock you on your ass. If you dropped it, they'd knock you on your ass and then kick you." Gaughan was a good enough wide receiver to be recruited to play football for Georgetown, but a hip injury limited him to placekicking duties for the Division I-AA Hoyas. (In two seasons he made 9 of 22 field goals and 29 of 40 extra points.)

When basketball coach John Thompson—a Mend of Gaughan's father, Michael, who owns four casinos in Vegas, including the Orleans—needed a player who would do some dirty work in practice but not worry about getting in games, he asked the scrappy Gaughan, then a sophomore, to join the team. One of Gaughan's duties was hounding Iverson. "Coach would say, 'Dog the crap out of Allen today,' and it was my job to pull on his jersey, punch him, smack him, do whatever I could do to slow him down," says Gaughan. "On the court he hated me. Off the court we became great friends."

After Gaughan graduated in 1997 with a BSBA in human resource management, he decided to give racing a try. His father had driven in the Baja 1000 for over 20 years, and Brendan had raced off-road with him once. Brendan drove in one truck race near the end of the '97 season and then ran for three seasons on the Winston West minor league circuit before joining the truck series full time this year with the Orleans Racing team. His first three races were at tracks he had never driven before, and he courted disaster at each. He was caught up in a wreck at Daytona, had an air gun break at Darlington and almost didn't qualify for the April 14 event in Martinsville. But Gaughan went on to finish 13th, 20th and ninth in those events, and he is currently in 12th place in points, with 365, 116 behind leader Robert Pressley. With 19 races remaining, Gaughan is a bona fide threat for the points title. "We now have all of our equipment built," he says. "On Jan. 3 there were zero trucks in the Orleans Racing shop. Now we have seven Dodge Rams completed, so we can afford to go to tracks and beat the crap out of a truck, like we did at Martinsville. We weathered what could have been a nasty storm, and now we're ready to go and try to kick some butt." As Iverson can attest, that's something Gaughan has some practice at.

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