Orleans Racing (also known as South Point Racing), was a NASCAR team that competed in the Craftsman Truck Series and the NASCAR West Series. It was owned by businessman Michael Gaughan for most of its existence, although others have had a partial interest in the team. The team fielded the No. 62 and No. 77 Dodges for Michael's son, Brendan, fellow West Series driver Scott Lynch, and former Nextel Cup driver Steve Park. The team was notable for being the only NASCAR team based in the state of Nevada, on the grounds of Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
|Owner(s)||Michael Gaughan, Walker Evans, Bill McAnally|
|Base||Las Vegas Valley|
|Series||Craftsman Truck Series, NASCAR West Series|
|Race drivers||Brendan Gaughan, Steve Park, Scott Lynch (CTS) |
Austin Cameron, Hershel McGriff, Scott Lynch (West)
|Sponsors||South Point Hotel & Casino |
Orleans Hotel and Casino
|Drivers' Championships||3 (West Series)|
|Race victories||9 (Craftsman Truck), 11 (West)|
SPR debuted in the Winston West Series in a partnership with famous West Series owner Bill McAnally and famous racer Walker Evans. Running the famous No. 16 Chevrolet sponsored by NAPA Auto Parts and with former off-road racer Brendan Gaughan at the wheel, the combination scored nine victories and back-to-back West Series championships in 2000 and 2001. The team would later move Gaughan up to the Truck Series while running Scott Lynch in the West Series. McAnally would continue his West team with drivers such as Austin Cameron and Brian Ickler. Lynch continued to drive for the team, winning both Rookie of the Year and the West Series Championship in 2003.
Craftsman Truck SeriesEdit
Truck No. 62 HistoryEdit
During their championship run in the West Series, Orleans Racing made 5 starts in 2000, but only 3 in 2001. The latter year showed the NASCAR world what a single car team from Las Vegas could do, as Gaughan nearly pulled off an upset victory at the June race in Texas, but finished second to Jack Sprague in 2001. Gaughan and his Orleans Racing team would move up to the Trucks full-time in 2002 with NAPA and the number 62 to contend for Rookie of the Year honors. Despite the criticisms of many who said that a team based in the Western United States would not make it in NASCAR, Gaughan proved all of his detractors wrong by winning both races at Texas en route to an 11th-place finish in the points and the 2002 ROTY crown. In 2003 Orleans Racing would only improve, as Gaughan would win a series high six races, including his second consecutive sweep at Texas and a hometown victory at Vegas, heading into the season finale at Homestead. In an ironic twist, lady luck would deal the Orleans team a bad hand, as Gaughan was taken out in a wreck on lap 101 with Marty Houston and finished fourth in points behind Travis Kvapil. The team's underdog status moved Gaughan up into the Nextel Cup Series, to drive for Roger Penske in 2004. While Gaughan was in Cup, Orleans tapped former Cup driver Steve Park to wheel their No. 62. Park would take his first career Truck Series win at Fontana in 2005, but struggled with consistency and was released before season's end. Scott Lynch would take over the No. 62 for the last races of the season, but like Park, struggled and was released. With the reduction in manufacturer support from Dodge, Orleans was forced to downsize to only the No. 77 truck in 2006.
Truck No. 77 HistoryEdit
The No. 77 truck debuted as the No. 61 truck driven by West Series driver Scott Lynch, who scored 12th-place finishes at Homestead and Phoenix. After his release from Penske, Brendan returned to Orleans Racing in 2005. However, the season proved difficult due to the increase in competition and Gaughan could only muster a 19th-place finish in the points. In 2006, the team changed its name from Orleans Racing to South Point Racing, due to Michael's acquisition of South Coast Casino in exchange for selling Coast Casinos to Boyd Gaming. A high for the newly named South Point Racing was a second-place finish at Homestead and a 15th-place finish in points. The team, switching manufacturers to Chevrolet, climbed to 11th in points, with a near win at Texas.
For 2008, SPR was to merge with Toyota team Wyler Racing to form Wyler-Gaughan Racing. The partnership, however, would involve the Gaughans leaving their home state of Nevada for Mooresville, North Carolina and switching manufacturers to Toyota, along with having a teammate, Richard Johns. However, for unknown reasons, the deal fell through and South Point Racing was disbanded, with only Brendan and 10–12 of his crew remaining, eventually moving to Circle Bar Racing. The shop was inactive for three months but was most recently used by Cup teams as a shelter during the extremely rainy Auto Club 500.