Even with the annual arrival of NASCAR to upstate New York is a turn or two away, driver Brendan Gaughan took a rolling start Tuesday, talking science and racing in Rochester.

Gaughan spent part of the afternoon sharing the importance of STEM education — Science, technology, engineering and mathematics — with children visiting Rochester Museum and Science Center. 

The day campers, 6 to 15 years old — settled down and listened to Richard Childress Racing team engineer Ryan Isabell and Gaughan talk about what makes a car go fast, makes the machine safe to drive and what might cause a crash.

“Our entire sport is science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Gaughan, 42.

Isabell and Gaughan have had a working relationship in racing the past 15 years.

“He was a Dodge engineer back when there weren’t many engineers, when it was kind of the infancy in engineering (in Cup racing),” Gaughan said. “Now heck, he’s part of, what do we have, 25, 30 engineers on our team alone. We have 30 engineers just at RCR alone.”

Isabell added: “I think JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) has 100.”

While Gaughan enjoyed the time explaining the connections between science, technology, engineering and mathematics to racing, this was also a business trip for him.

Part of the morning was spent on television promoting a weekend of NASCAR at Watkins Glen International race track in Schulyer County, Aug. 3-6. Gaughan, a former walk-on basketball player at Georgetown University and owner of a degree in management, threw some friendly barbs at Syracuse fans along the way.

While most NASCAR events are on ovals, NASCAR has brought teams to the road course at The Glen the past 31 years, 34 overall.

“It’s one of the few NASCAR races that have had sellouts (in recent years),” Gaughan said.

Three series are coming to the Glen, including NASCAR’s top two — Monster Energy Cup and XFINITY, where Gaughan is 13th in the drivers points standings. A total of 12 drivers in each series qualify for the chase for the championships.

Kevin Harvick, a former Cup series champion, was promoting the Glen’s Cup weekend and NASCAR last week in Buffalo. NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Rusty Wallace, a race analyst on radio, has appearances scheduled in Syracuse and Albany next week.

Gaughan, who grew up and still lives in Las Vegas and also played football at Georgetown, moved into one of NASCAR’s top three series in 1997. He drove for Penske-Jasper Racing in the Cup series while sponsored by Kodak in 2004. This is his ninth year in XFINITY, where he qualified for the first series chase for a championship last year.

“I’ll tell the kids today, I’d rather they go to college first, make sure they have something because this sport can end at any moment, for anybody,” he said.

JAMESJ@Gannett.com