An early Christmas present for Joey Gase is allowing him to do what he has always dreamt of doing â 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.
âIt means a lot to me and my family. Itâs something that has always been the dream and goal,â the Cedar Rapids native said. âYou never knew quite how it was going to happen as just a kid from Iowa.â
The announcement from RWR came just after Gase and his wife Caitlin welcomed twin boys on Dec. 11, 2019.
âIt was a good Christmas for our family,â he said.
Gase took some time from this weekâs 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.
âThings have been going good for the most part here. Weâve had two good practice sessions and in qualifying, we wanted to do a little better than we did last weekend,â Gase said. âWe think we have a car that will suck up and draft really well in the race. Thatâs the cool thing about super speedways, it doesnât matter if youâre fast by yourself as long as you have a car that will suck up good in the draft.â
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. Itâs 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.
âIn the duals, weâll go through the paces with myself, the pit crew and the spotter to make sure weâre on the same page to lock into what we were doing into the 500,â Gase said. âItâs 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.â
Being at Daytona for a week and a half has allowed Gase to get used to working with a new team. He said thereâs 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.
âI plan to race at least one if not both of the Xfinity races at Iowa Speedway this season. Itâs a special to me to race there,â Gase said.
Gaseâs 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 Gaseâs 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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