Fifteen-year NASCAR racing veteran Brendan Gaughan added a unique splash to the promotional push for Kentucky Speedway's Oct. 1 Camping World Truck Series 225-mile race by swimming with sharks at the Newport Aquarium.

The 36-year-old answered media and aquarium guest questions about the second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race of the season, the tight series championship battle and his long career while several species of shark and a variety of sea life swam between him and his audience.

"I mentioned to NASCAR early in the year that I thought it would be cool to hold a prerace media event at an aquarium because I'm a dive master and it would combine my passions. Kentucky Speedway finally took the bull by the horns. The Newport Aquarium has a cool communications system with a full- face, helmet, microphone and earphones. I could talk to media. I was answering a question about our third-place finish at the track in July and here comes a sand tiger shark above me. A safety diver tapped me, I ducked a little, and continued answering the question. It was cool," Gaughan said.

He enters the Sept. 24 NCWTS New Hampshire Motor Speedway event sitting 13th in the championship standings after racing to one top-five and a total of five top-10 finishes in the No. 62 South Point Hotel & Casino Toyota fielded by Germain Racing.

The Las Vegas, Nev., driver will make his eighth career NCWTS Kentucky Speedway start and 10th overall at the track on Oct. 1. He owns two top-five NCWTS Kentucky Speedway finishes and earned his first at the track with a third-place effort in 2005. He also collected a pair of fourth-place NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) finishes at the track with Rusty Wallace, Inc., in 2010 and 2009.

"It's my style of track. When it was built, they called it a cookie-cutter - a flat mile-and-a-half that could fit a lot of seats. Nobody has that style anymore but here and Kansas.

"This track, I like better. It has night racing, it has a little more character. The weather in Kentucky - the rain, the snows and the melt - has not been good to the track to where it's bumpy, but that gives it so much character.

"If you're really fast and on the bottom, there's a huge bump. If I can be fast up top, I miss that bump. Then, there's big bump in the middle Turn 3 and Turn 4 up high, so I need to get beneath it. There's some strategy behind where you drive and you have to know the track very well," Gaughan

He earned his season-best third-place finish on the 1.5-mile tri-oval on July 7 on the strength of his solid restarts.

"I've always prided myself on restarts. As a young driver, I really watched and always paid attention to Jack Sprague and Ron Hornaday, Jr. Kentucky fits my restart style because it's a d-shaped oval where you can go to the outside after the start/finish line and bonsai the outside.

"In July, we had to get a wave around to get back on the lead lap after pitting after green, but it wasn't like we were that bad. We were 16th, and after three restarts, we ended up third. We were passing like five trucks on each restart, flying by them. It felt so good to have that aggression and swagger again. With any luck, we can come back and at least have that same swagger," Gaughan explained.

The "Kentucky 225" is the sixth to last race of the season and will feature a four-way title battle between four drivers. Championship leader and Turner Motorsports driver James Buescher opened this week up three points on Richard Childress Racing's Austin Dillon, six points on ThorSport Racing's Johnny Sauter and 20 points on Red Horse Racing's Timothy Peters.

Gaughan, who had his bid for the 2003 NCWTS championship end during the final event of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway when his 40-point championship lead was wiped out after he was involved in a three-truck crash with just 33 laps remaining, knows any championship lead is fragile.

"I had a 40-point lead going into Homestead and we all know what happened. It's really hard to handicap when you look at the players," he said.

The "Kentucky 225" opens a tripleheader Kentucky Speedway race weekend that additionally a 100-mile Firestone Indy Lights race and 300-mile IZOD IndyCar Series event featuring Helio Castroneves, Dario Franchitti, Danica Patrick, Will Power and world's best open-wheel driving talents on Oct. 2.

Visit the "Tickets" page of this Web site to reserve tickets, campsites, infield Fan Zone passes or phone 888-652-7223.

Story by Mike Schmaltz

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