When Danny Stockman climbs atop the No. 21 South Point Hotel & Casino pit box for the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon, it will be a bit of a homecoming for the veteran crew chief. While Stockman is a California native, he earned his racing stripes in the shadows of LVMS with Brendan Gaughan and the Gaughan family.
Growing up racing late models in California alongside Gaughan, Stockman made the move to Las Vegas after graduating high school for the chance to start the next chapter of his racing career as a mechanic instead of a driver. Former rivals turned to helpful hands as the Gaughan family brought Stockman on as general help on their Camping World Truck Series team.
Fast-forward to the 2018 season and Stockman has come full circle as crew chief on the No. 21 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet with driver Daniel Hemric.
Stockman is one of a handful of Richard Childress Racing employees that got their start with the Gaughan family all those years ago. The memories of those early days are clearly not lost on Stockman.
“The Gaughan family has done so much for me, personally, and so much for racing,” said Stockman. “I just think Michael and Paula Gaughan should be given some respect and recognition for what they have done for RCR, for me, and for so many people in this sport. Brendan, I mean that guy has the biggest heart of anybody I’ve ever met. I just feel like we as racers owe the Gaughan family some respect.”
From Driving to Sweeping Floors for the Gaughan Family
When Stockman realized becoming a successful driver was most likely out of reach, he readjusted his goals and determined he would become a NASCAR crew chief one day. That’s where Gaughan’s Orleans Racing team came in.
“I made my mind up (to pursue being a crew chief), I went to help a team in Phoenix, and I gave Shane Wilson (former Brendan Gaughan crew chief) my resume,” said Stockman. “They called me a couple of weeks later and said they wanted me to do a two-week trial period at their shop. By the fourth day they hired me and put me up in a hotel for a month and a half until I got enough money together to get my own apartment.”
Stockman spent four years working with the Gaughan family at Orleans Racing, winning multiple races and contending for the championship in the Truck Series.
“The atmosphere at that shop and the way the Gaughan family ran the organization, we just thought we were so good,” said Stockman. “We worked super hard and worked a lot of hours, but everyone that worked there was in it to win, and that came from the top with the Gaughan family.
“They gave us the ability to learn, they gave us the ability to get to the racetrack and they gave us the ability to move up the ranks,” he said. “I started there as a floor sweeper and by the end of my time there I was a car chief making a good living. When Brendan came to drive at RCR, I was jacked up again.”
The Relationship Comes Full Circle
That atmosphere and the dedication of the Gaughan family taught Stockman and the other crew members great work ethic and set them up for success further down the road in their careers. Now, with South Point Hotel & Casino on the No. 21 Chevrolet, Stockman hopes to prove that work ethic and give back to the Gaughan family by finding success with their colors on the car.
“They’re not just another partner on the car,” he said. “It’s all about South Point and the Gaughan family. What they did to come back and sponsor the No. 21 team this year shows what kind of people they are. They didn’t have to do this.”
For Stockman, the respect and admiration for the Gaughan family go beyond their involvement in racing. He was quick to point out that after recently receiving a large tax break, Michael Gaughan doubled the bonuses of 2,300 full-time workers at the South Point Hotel & Casino.
“He could have just put that in his pocket, but he gave it back to his employees. Most people don’t do those things. That shows the Gaughan family are special people,” he said.
The Ultimate Form of Respect
When thinking about the possibility of delivering a win for the Gaughan family and the South Point Hotel & Casino, Stockman admits he gets a chill up his spine.
“Las Vegas is one of my favorite mile-and-a-half tracks on that schedule. We have worked extremely hard on our Vegas setup over the winter and over the last couple of weeks. I know Daniel is capable of getting it done there.” Stockman said with a big smile. “Brendan, Michael, Paula, all of the Gaughan family would make it a memorable night. It would be very, very big. Like, holy cow. I’m sure the South Point team would definitely turn the city upside down. That would be awesome. You have no idea.”
Either way, it is clear serving as the crew chief on the No. 21 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet means the world to Stockman. To be a kid from California to be given a shot in NASCAR by the Gaughan family and now nearly 20 years later doing all he can to put them in Victory Lane, Stockman is driven to pay respect to the Gaughan family by giving his all each and every weekend.