Joey Gase talks his first Daytona 500 start with BK Racing, new sponsor

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Joey Gase said it would have been a “deal breaker” for sponsor Best Home Furnishings if BK Racing didn’t have a guaranteed spot in the Daytona 500 thanks to a charter.

“It’s so much easier for the sponsor, not that they don’t have faith in you that you’re not going to make the show, but if that didn’t happen all their people and guests they bring to the race they don’t get to see you in the big race,” Gase said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint.”

Gase will drive BK Racing’s No. 23 car in the Daytona 500 and two other Monster Energy NASCAR Cup races next season.

Gase’s chance to compete in the “Great American Race” began last year at Daytona when he met executives from Best Home Furnishings who make the pilgrimage to Florida for the Daytona 500 every year.

“They’re huge NASCAR fans,” Gase said. “(The Daytona 500) is their favorite race to go to. The owners of the company actually have Kyle Busch‘s car that he won the first (Car of Tomorrow) race in at Bristol (in 2007).”

Gase, 23, is set to make starts at Daytona, the night race at Bristol and the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. He is guaranteed to start all three thanks to BK Racing’s charer.

“That definitely takes some stress off because (Daytona) is supposed to be a stressful week or two,” Gase said. “All we have to do is focus on getting our car good for the race and taking care of the car through practice and the duels.”

A native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Gase has experienced Daytona International Speedway, as a driver and a spectator, but he’s yet to pace the 2.5-mile track in NASCAR’s Premier Series.

In 13 Cup Series starts, none of them have been at Daytona. But Gase, who first visited the track for the 2008 Daytona 500, has raced on it nine times in the Xfinity Series.

“I’ve been in the Monster Energy Series at a bunch of other tracks, but never at the superspeedways,” Gase said. “When you’re watching on TV, you don’t think (the cars) are going that much faster, but when you really get in the car the sensation of speed is really so much more. It’s quite amazing. When you go to the Cup car back over to the Xfinity car it definitely helps on the Xfinity side because it slows everything down for you.”

The 59th Daytona 500 is set for Feb. 26.

My Home Tracks: New Mexico’s the Land of Enchantment and home of Cardinal Speedway

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The state of New Mexico is known more for IndyCar racing, with the Unser family being the state’s favorite sons.

Al Unser won four Indianapolis 500s, brother Bobby three and Al’s son Al Jr. a two-time winner (this weekend’s 500 marks the 25th anniversary of Little Al’s second 500 triumph).

But there’s a strong grassroots racing scene in the Land of Enchantment, particularly in the far southeast corner of the state at Cardinal Speedway, a half-mile dirt track in the little town of Eunice.

NASCAR America continues its My Home Track series of 50 states in 50 shows.

Wednesday, we visit New York state.

2018 NASCAR schedule changes: EVP Steve O’Donnell breaks it down (video)

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On Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell joined us to discuss the NASCAR Cup schedule changes in 2018, including running a road race at Charlotte and having Indianapolis be the final race before the playoffs.

“I’m real excited about these changes,” said O’Donnell, who cited unprecedented cooperation between NASCAR, its teams, drivers and sponsors to reach agreement on the schedule changes.

Among the key changes: Las Vegas will kick off the 10-race playoffs in 2018 (Chicagoland Speedway, which will have hosted the last seven playoff openers, will return to its more traditional race date in early July/late June and serve as a run-up to the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona.

Several other changes include:

  • The fall playoff race at Charlotte will move up a couple weeks in the schedule and also incorporate competition on both the infield road course and part of the speedway itself.
  • After 14 years as the deciding race to qualify for the NASCAR Cup playoffs, Richmond International Raceway will now become the second race of the playoffs.
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway will see it’s Brickyard 400 go from late July to become the final qualifying race for the playoffs in early September.

Catch up on all the changes in the above video.

Tony Stewart pulled over by state trooper, but it’s not for speeding

Photo courtesy Damein Cunningham Twitter account
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Retired NASCAR Cup driver and team co-owner Tony Stewart was stopped by an Illinois State Trooper over the weekend near DeKalb, Ill., about 90 minutes west of Chicago.

But before you think Stewart was stopped for speeding by Trooper Damein Cunningham, he wasn’t.

Rather, Cunningham pulled Stewart over for improper lane usage, although exactly what the infraction was is unclear.

After getting a verbal warning, Stewart gladly posed with Cunningham for a selfie, which the trooper promptly tweeted out.

“Just pulled over NASCAR LEGEND Tony Stewart on I-88 in DeKalb, IL, what you think I got him for? #NASCAR #ISP”

But according to the Chicago Tribune, Cunningham’s bosses apparently didn’t have a sense of humor about the incident or realize the good PR it meant for the Illinois State Police.

That, or they’re not Stewart or NASCAR fans. They ordered Cunningham to delete the tweet, which he did.

It’s unclear what Stewart, who was stopped on his 46th birthday, was doing in the Land of Lincoln.

But his luck went from bad to worse a few hours later. According to USA Today, Stewart and others were stuck in an elevator in a Madison, Wisconsin hotel for about 20 minutes before being rescued by firefighters.

We can just imagine what the elevator riders talked about while trapped.

How much do you want to bet Stewart said, “Man, do I have a story about a cop that I have to tell you.”

Cunningham then posted another tweet on Sunday after attending church services.

 

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All-Star Race will remain at Charlotte in 2018

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
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NASCAR confirmed that the All-Star Race will be held again at Charlotte Motor Speedway despite more of a push from competitors and others to move the event.

Criticism was raised after last weekend’s 70-lap event featured only three lead changes. Kyle Busch took the lead on the restart to begin the final 10-lap stage and went on to win. It marked the fourth time in the last five years the All-Star winner led every lap in the final stage. In 12 All-Star Races at Charlotte since the track was repaved, there have been two lead changes in the final five laps.

Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations, was clear in a call with reporters Tuesday that the All-Star Race is set for Charlotte.

“We’ve finished our discussions for ’18,” he said. ” We’ll begin looking at ’19 and beyond in the near future.”

The All-Star Race debuted at Charlotte in 1985, moved to Atlanta in 1986 and returned to Charlotte the following year. It has been held at Charlotte ever since.

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