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In familiar setting, Gaughan hopes for wins

January 03, 2013, Kenny Bruce,

Reunited with crew chief, veteran takes aim at Truck Series title

Nearly a decade ago, Brendan Gaughan and Shane Wilson were key players for the most competitive young team in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. For the 2013 season, they are together again.

Can success be far behind?

“You can’t deny the chemistry and the communication we had back in the day,” Gaughan, 37, said recently of his former crew chief.

Gaughan, then driving for the family-owned Orleans Racing, won the series’ rookie of the year honors in 2002 with Wilson as crew chief, and the tandem nearly won the championship the following year. Their eight-race win total during the two-year stretch was a series best.

Eventually, Gaughan's and Wilson's careers veered down paths. Now, they will intersect once more as the two reunite at Richard Childress Racing.

"We go a long way back. Anytime you have that, there are ups and downs."

-- Brendan Gaughan

The team will field the No. 62 truck (a nod to Gaughan’s Orleans Racing days) and will start the season with owner points from RCR’s No. 22 entry, which finished third in points with Joey Coulter behind the wheel in 2012.

Gaughan ran partial schedules in three series (Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck) for RCR last year, scoring top-five finishes in half of his eight Truck Series starts and top-10s in half of his Nationwide runs.

Wilson, in the meantime, served as crew chief for Kevin Harvick at 24 Sprint Cup races and RCR teammates Paul Menard and Jeff Burton for a handful of others. This season, Gaughan is certainly happy to have Wilson back on his team.

“We go a long way back,” Gaughan said. “Anytime you have that, there are ups and downs. We’ve had ours. … It’s nice for us to get back together. We’ve both said, ‘You know what? We should have been doing this all along.’ ”

Wilson has been a winning crew chief in all three series, enjoying success with Gaughan (eight wins in the Truck Series), Harvick and Burton (14 in Nationwide) and Clint Bowyer (two in Cup). Given the success he and Gaughan shared, Wilson said expectations for 2013 are high.

“With our resources from (RCR), Brendan being a veteran Truck Series driver and our … history, I think it’s safe to say that we will be a very competitive team,” Wilson said in a release announcing the pairing.

Ty Dillon, last season’s rookie of the year in the series, returns in the No. 3 truck for the organization. A third entry is expected to be fielded for a limited number of events.

The series’ 22-race schedule kicks off Feb. 22 with the running of the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

“This sport all starts at the shop,” said Gaughan, who will also compete in at least two Nationwide Series events this year. “It all starts with the work the people do behind the scenes -- the body hangers, the engineers, those folks. You’ve got to take it seriously … make it start on the shop side and the performance will come from there. I’m really pumped about it.”