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Xfinity Spotlight: Q&A with Joey Gase

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He’s only 24, but Joey Gase has been around for some time.

Gase is nearing the end of his fourth full-time season in the Xfinity Series, but he’s been competing in it since 2011 when he was 18 and mostly driving start-and-park rides. Since then, the Iowa native has accumulated 172 Xfinity starts and 19 Cup starts.

After six years with Jimmy Means Racing, Gase has decided it’s time to move on. He’s pursuing opportunities that would see him competing primarily in the Cup Series.

“It’s definitely weird,” Gase told NBC Sports. “I don’t think it’s too huge of a risky move, but you never know what can happen. It’s a little different for sure not knowing (with) 100 percent security (of) having a full-time ride with Jimmy and going out and talking with all these different teams. Through the winter last year, to be honest with you, we didn’t know if we were going to be able to make it through the whole Xfinity season, myself and Jimmy.

“Everyone on our team was nervous because of the competition level jumping up so much from the year before and so many new teams coming in and so many cars at Daytona. We were just worried about making Daytona, cause that kind of sets the rest of your season as far as funding for the team. That’s the biggest paying race of the year. … Lucky for us, the beginning of the year went really well for us and we finished seventh.”

Gase again finished in the top 10 at Daytona in July, bringing his career total to three.

Gase will get another chance to tryout for curious Cup teams this weekend as he competes for Tommy Baldwin Racing at Texas Motor Speedway. Driving the No. 7 Chevrolet, it will be his seventh Cup start of the year after previous races with BK Racing and Premium Motorsports.

The following Q&A has been edited and condensed.

NBC Sports: What’s your earliest vivid memory related to auto racing?

Gase: Ever since my first memories started, I have auto racing. My dad raced before I did back in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He just raced at the local short track level. I remember going up there every Friday night in the summer and watching my dad race and cheer him on. I remember during the winter I just couldn’t wait for the racing season to start again so I could go back out and watch my dad race. And I loved working on the car with him as well.

NBC Sports: What was the first time you got in a car to race?

Gase: I did my first go-kart race when I was 8 years old. I was lucky enough to go out and win my first race, which was very surprising and cool to everybody. When I turned 14 I started to race my dad’s old dirt modified.

NBC Sports: What do you remember about winning that first race?

Gase: To have some of the other parents not be too happy and claim we were cheating because it was our first ever race. It was pretty funny and they tore us down in tech and we were legal. To have that and start off well was really cool.

NBC Sports: What was your first car?

Gase: A ’97 Mercury Mountaineer. It was my dad’s car. He had it since it was new. We kind of had to bring it back to life for me. It was a car I wanted to be my first car. Being from Iowa, it was a V8. It was all-wheel drive. It was really good in the snow to go out and have fun like you shouldn’t do when you’re in high school driving around. Go off-roading and stuff like that.

NBC Sports: Have you ever named a car or race car?

Gase: I have not, no. But I talk to them kind of weird, like a person. … I talk to them a little bit. The car has to know that you like them and you’re going to take care of them.

NBC Sports: You’re talking to it during a race?

Gase: More before the race or I guess if you get through a big wreck or something.

NBC Sports: What was the first NASCAR race you attended?

Gase: I forget what year it was, but it would be the Brickyard 400. I went with my grandparents every year. They had season tickets to that race and I would go every year to that. We probably went five years or so. To be able to race in the Brickyard 400 this year for the first time (finished 25th) too was pretty crazy to think about how I used to come there as a fan and thinking how cool it would be to race there and remembered exactly where I sat. … It was a pretty cool feeling.

NBC Sports: What’s the most fun race you’ve ever been a part of?

Gase: There is one race in particular (at Richmond) I remember. Jimmy and I were actually arguing on the (pit) call. He didn’t want to take tires and I wanted to put four tires on. We came down pit road and not too many other people did and we put four tires on and it went green for the rest of the way to the checkered and everyone else had to pit under green. So we had better tires than everyone else, so we were able to fly by a lot people, including the leaders. So when you’re a small team and being able to get lucky on a call like that it’s a lot of fun.

NBC Sports: If you could have a one-on-one race with any driver, who would it be and what would the track and type of car be?

Gase: It would probably be with Rusty Wallace. He was my favorite driver when I was growing up. It would probably be at Iowa Speedway for multiple reasons. I’m from Iowa and I remember how excited I was when they announced they were building a NASCAR track in Iowa and also Rusty Wallace was helping build it and design it as well. I’ve been able to race at that track since I was 15 years old. I think it would be cool to race Rusty at the track he helped design and be at my home track at the same time. … How about a super late model?

Previous Spotlights

Justin Allgaier

Darrell Wallace Jr.

Michael Annett

Ryan Reed

Brandon Jones

Daniel Hemric

William Byron

Spencer Gallagher

Cole Custer

Ross Chastain

Elliott Sadler

Ben Kennedy

Blake Koch

Brennan Poole

Matt Tifft

Tyler Reddick

Kyle Benjamin

Ty Majeski

Ryan Sieg

Dakoda Armstrong

Brendan Gaughan

Garrett Smithley

J.J. Yeley

Harrison Rhodes

James Davison

Jeremy Clements

David Starr

Austin Cindric

Christopher Bell

Jeff Green

Casey Mears

Sam Hornish Jr.

 

Watkins Glen, Michigan announce multi-year sponsor deals

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Watkins Glen International and Michigan International Speedway announced multi-year sponsorship deals for their Cup Series races Thursday.

WGI announced the Aug. 5 race at the road course will be sponsored by GoBowling.com. The 90-lap race will be called “Go Bowling at the Glen.”

This is not the first time the bowling brand has sponsored a Cup event. It sponsored the spring race at Kansas Speedway from 2016-17 and the August event at Pocono Raceway from 2013-14.

As part of the deal, Go Bowling will have two bowling lanes at the track for the race weekend.

Michigan has renewed its sponsorship deal with FireKeepers Casino Hotel for its June Cup race for “many years.”

The hotel in Battle Creek, Michigan, began its relationship with MIS by sponsoring pole day in 2014. It began sponsoring the June race in 2016.

TheFireKeepers Casino 400 is scheduled for June 10.

ISM Raceway (Phoenix) also announced the title sponsor for its March 11 Cup race.

The event will called the TicketGuardian 500.

TicketGuardian is a mobile ticketing insurance provider. When fans purchase tickets to events at ISM Raceway, they will be given the option to add TicketGuardian’s ticket protection coverage. This allows fans to have insurance on the tickets they’ve purchased in advance.

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Hendrick, Kelley Blue Book extend relationship through 2020

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Hendrick Motorsports and Kelley Blue Book have extended their sponsorship deal three years through 2020, the team announced Thursday.

The car pricing, research and valuation guide will be a primary sponsor on Chase Elliott‘s N0. 9 Chevrolet in two races each year.

This season it will be on the No. 9 for the Aug. 18 race at Bristol Motor Speedway and the November playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Kelley Blue Book has been partnered with Hendrick since 2014 when it had a one-race deal to sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr.

It went to a two-race deal beginning in 2016.

MORE: Driving the No. 9 feels like going home for Chase Elliott

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Danica Patrick has Daytona 500, Indy 500 sponsor; now needs ride

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GoDaddy will return to be Danica Patrick‘s sponsor for the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, the company announced Thursday.

Patrick said in November that she would retire from racing after competing in those two events. She has yet to secure a ride for either race but that was slowed by the lack of sponsorship until Thursday’s announcement.

A Chip Ganassi Racing executive said last week that the team was no longer in discussions with Patrick for her to drive for the team in either race. Steve Lauletta, president of Chip Ganassi Racing, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the team would stay focused on its current operations instead of adding another car for those races: “We’re going to stay focused on that rather than put another temporary effort together and not doing it up to the standards that we would want to, so I don’t think you’ll see that happening with us in 2018.”

MORE: Danica Patrick confirms she is dating NFL quarterback

GoDaddy signed Patrick in 2006 when she was in IndyCar and followed her to NASCAR, ending its sponsorship after the 2015 season. While together, Patrick was the face of the company, appearing in 13 GoDaddy Super Bowl ads – the most Super Bowl commercial appearances by a celebrity.

“You could say, ‘we’re getting the band back together,” said GoDaddy Chief Marketing Officer Barb Rechterman. “It makes sense in that our goals are so well-aligned – she’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the Internet and turn their ‘side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers. We love it.”

Said Patrick in a statement: “This is definitely the way I want to finish my racing career – at these two iconic races, backed by my iconic, long-time sponsor. GoDaddy was there for me when my career was just really starting so it’s exciting to be getting back in the GoDaddy ‘green’ for my final two races. Our brands have always been powerful together, and I think it’s awesome to have them at my side when I go ‘all in’ with my businesses after racing.”

Patrick has made six starts in the Daytona 500. She won the pole for the 2013 race. She finished eighth that year, her best finish in the season-opening Cup race. She finished fourth in last year’s Advance Auto Parts Clash. She is eligible for that race this year. Patrick has made seven starts in the Indianapolis 500 from 2005-11. She finished a career-best fourth in her first race there, leading 19 laps. She has two top-five and five top-10 finishes in the Indy 500.

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Atlanta Motor Speedway accepting lucky charms to help Chase Elliott earn first Cup win

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The president of Atlanta Motor Speedway is hoping history will repeat.

Ed Clark is doing whatever he can to get Georgia-native Chase Elliott to Victory Lane for the first time in the Cup Series.

To do that, he’s using the same marketing scheme he executed in 1983 in the weeks before Bill Elliott’s first Cup victory.

AMS is asking for fans to send lucky charms to the track, which will be presented to Chase Elliott during a special event there Feb. 13.

There’s no restrictions on what can be sent.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver is winless after 77 starts in NASCAR’s premier series.

Bill Elliott in 1983. (Atlanta Motor Speedway).

His father went winless in his first 155 starts from 1976-83.

Clark put together the original lucky charm drive ahead of the October race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he served as public relations director.

“The promotion we came up with for Bill in ’83 created an amazing amount of interest and support from fans all over the country,” said Clark in a press release. “We received package after package full of good-luck charms, and it seemed like everybody was pulling for him to get that first win.”

Three races later, in the season finale at Riverside International Raceway, the 28-year-old Bill Elliott claimed his first of 44 Cup victories.

Fans can send their lucky charms to Elliott by shipping them to AMS at 1500 Highway 19/41, Hampton, GA 30228, with attention to “Good Luck, Chase.” Fans can also participate by using the hashtag #GoodLuckChase across the various social media platforms with pictures and messages to Elliott.

The Cup season begins Feb. 18 with the 60th Daytona 500. The following weekend, the series visits Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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