An early Christmas present for Joey Gase is allowing him to do what he has always dreamt of doing — be a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver. Gase learned in December he would be driving the No. 51 Chevrolet car for Rick Ware Racing for the 2020 season.
“It means a lot to me and my family. It’s something that has always been the dream and goal,” the Cedar Rapids native said. “You never knew quite how it was going to happen as just a kid from Iowa.”
The announcement from RWR came just after Gase and his wife Caitlin welcomed twin boys on Dec. 11, 2019.
“It was a good Christmas for our family,” he said.
Gase took some time from this week’s Daytona 500 practices in Daytona Beach, Fla., to talk Wednesday on a telephone interview about the opportunity to drive in the premier NASCAR series. He has raced at the NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Iowa Speedway since 2011.
“Things have been going good for the most part here. We’ve had two good practice sessions and in qualifying, we wanted to do a little better than we did last weekend,” Gase said. “We think we have a car that will suck up and draft really well in the race. That’s the cool thing about super speedways, it doesn’t matter if you’re fast by yourself as long as you have a car that will suck up good in the draft.”
Gase said he was excited about the upcoming Dayton Duels on Thursday. The Daytona 500 is at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Dayton International Speedway. It’s the opening race of the 2020 season.
Gase has competed part-time in the Cup Series over the last six seasons, making 41 starts for several different teams. He finished 23rd in the 2017 Daytona 500 and did not qualify in 2019.
“In the duals, we’ll go through the paces with myself, the pit crew and the spotter to make sure we’re on the same page to lock into what we were doing into the 500,” Gase said. “It’s about seeing what we have and what we have to work on Friday and Saturday. Also keeping our car in good shape for the race on Sunday.”
Being at Daytona for a week and a half has allowed Gase to get used to working with a new team. He said there’s been a learning curve and things are going well.
Gase grew up around racing as his dad raced at Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids. He said he was always around racing and loved it. Gase began his racing career at Hawkeye Downs.
Gase has experience in all three NASCAR national series. He has competed in four races in the last two years (2018-2019) in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series as well as 240 races in nine years in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
“I plan to race at least one if not both of the Xfinity races at Iowa Speedway this season. It’s a special to me to race there,” Gase said.
Gase’s mother, Mary Jo, died from a brain aneurysm when Gase was 18 years old. Gase was awarded the inaugural Comcast Community Champion Award at the joint Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series banquet after the 2015 season. The award was in recognition of Gase’s efforts to promote organ donation, to honor his mother, whose donated organs helped 66 others after her death.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
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