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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.

 

Daytona road course entry lists

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NASCAR’s national series will make their debuts on the Daytona road course this weekend. The Cup, Xfinity and Truck events will be held without any practice or qualifying.

NASCAR is prohibiting drivers from competing in more than one series this weekend on the Daytona road course in an effort to get extra track time. NASCAR states that is to make the event fair for everyone.

Sunday’s Cup race will be broadcast on NBC.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for the races at the Daytona road course 

Cup – Go Bowling 235 (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC)

Thirty-nine drivers are entered for the race at the Daytona road course.

JJ Yeley is in the No. 27 for Rick Ware Racing.

Joey Gase is in the No. 51 for Petty Ware Racing.

Gray Gaulding is in the No. 53 for Rick Ware Racing.

Brendan Gaughan is in the No. 62 for Beard Motorsports.

Timmy Hill is in the No. 66 for Motorsports Business Management.

Reed Sorenson is in the No. 77 for Spire Motorsports.

Click here for Cup entry list

 

Xfinity – UNOH 188 (3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Thirty-eight cars are entered.

Andy Lally is back in the No. 02 Our Motorsports car after finishing fifth last week at Road America.

AJ Allmendinger, who finished second last week at Road America, is in the No. 16 for Kaulig Racing.

IMSA driver Earl Bamber will make his Xfinity debut this weekend in the No. 21 for Richard Childress Racing.

Brandon Gdovic will make his second start of the season, driving the No. 26 for Sam Hunt Racing.

Click here for Xfinity entry list

 

Truck – Sunoco 159 (Noon ET Sunday on FS1)

Thirty-nine trucks are entered in the race that will be held before the Cup event on Sunday on the Daytona road course.

Alex Tagliani will drive the No. 51 for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Click here for Truck entry list

Silly Season Scorecard: Christopher Bell moves back to JGR

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No surprise that Christopher Bell moves over to the No. 20 at Joe Gibbs Racing next season with Leavine Family Racing being sold and Erik Jones not remaining with JGR beyond this season. Joe Gibbs Racing made the announcement Monday.

While JGR lets the 24-year-old Jones, who has 133 Cup starts go, it brings in the 25-year-old Bell who has made 22 career Cup starts. Jones said before Sunday’s race he was “blindsided a little bit” by JGR’s move.

It’s part of the building momentum of Silly Season. In the last week, Team Penske signed Brad Keselowski to a reported one-year extension and Bubba Wallace said he has an offer for next year not only from Richard Petty Motorsports but also Chip Ganassi Racing.

Here’s how the Cup Silly Season scorecard looks as of Aug. 10.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2021

No. 00: Quin Houff enters the second year of his two-year deal with StarCom Racing.

No. 1: Kurt Busch enters the second year of a multi-year contract that Chip Ganassi Racing announced last season.

No. 2: Brad Keselowski and Team Penske announced a contract extension Aug. 3.

No. 4: Kevin Harvick signed a contract extension in February that will keep him at Stewart-Haas Racing through the 2023 season.

No. 8: Tyler Reddick said in a press conference Aug. 7 that he will be back with Richard Childress Racing next season.

No. 9: Chase Elliott is under contract with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2022 season.

No. 11: Denny Hamlin is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 12: Ryan Blaney and Team Penske announced a multi-year extension earlier this season.

No. 18: Kyle Busch is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 20: Christopher Bell moves from Leavine Family Racing to take over this ride in 2021.

No. 22: Joey Logano is tied to Team Penske “through the 2022 season and beyond.”

No. 24: William Byron is under contact with Hendrick Motorsports through at least 2021.

No. 47: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. enters the second year of a multi-year deal with JTG Daugherty Racing.

No. 88: Alex Bowman will race for Hendrick Motorsports under a one-year contract extension announced earlier this year.

 

Available/possibly available rides

No. 10: Aric Almirola is in a contract year at Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon is in a contract year at Germain Racing.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer is in a contract year to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto is in a contract year at Wood Brothers Racing. He said after the Aug. 9 Michigan race: “I haven’t really talked about that stuff for next year yet, but we’ve just been so focused and head down on digging and trying to make the playoffs and run well. We haven’t even really talked about it, so, hopefully, I stay here for a very long time to come and that’s what they had expressed to me when I came over here.”

No. 32: Corey LaJoie is in a contract year at Go Fas Racing.

No. 42: Matt Kenseth told NBC Sports on Aug. 8 in regards to talks with Chip Ganassi Racing for next year: “We really haven’t had any very meaningful discussions really about any of that to be honest with you.

No. 43: Bubba Wallace said Aug. 9 he has an offer from Richard Petty Motorsports and an offer from Chip Ganassi Racing to drive the No. 42 car next season.

No. 48: With Jimmie Johnson retiring from full-time competition, Hendrick Motorsports has this seat to fill.

No. 95: Leavine Family Racing announced it was selling its assets earlier this week. The buyer has not been announced. Christopher Bell will move to the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team for 2021.

Christopher Bell to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2021

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Christopher Bell will drive for the No. 20 next season for Joe Gibbs Racing, the team announced Monday, a decision that was expected with Erik Jones’ contract expiring after this season and it not being renewed. 

“I’m so appreciative of the opportunity I have this year with LFR and I want to finish this season strong for Bob (Leavine) and everyone there,” Bell said in a statement from the team. “At the same time, I’m extremely excited to return to Joe Gibbs Racing starting in 2021. It’s an organization I’m very comfortable with and have had a lot of success with.”

Said car owner Joe Gibbs: “We are excited to bring Christopher into our Cup Series program starting in 2021. He obviously had tremendous success in the Xfinity Series with us and we look forward to his return to JGR.”

Bell drove for JGR in in the Xfinity Series in 2018 and 2019, winning 15 races, before moving to the Cup Series and Leavine Family Racing this season. Leavine Family Racing announced last week that it has been sold.

Entering Sunday’s race at the Daytona International Speedway road course (3 p.m. ET on NBC), Bell is 19th in points. His best finish this season is fourth at the first Pocono race in late June.

Xfinity playoff grid after Road America

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Brandon Brown extended his hold on the final spot in the Xfinity playoff grid last weekend at Road America after struggles early in the race.

Brown needed to be pushed back to pit road before the field took the green because of a mechanical issue. He fell a lap down as his crew diagnosed the issue, got his lap back, scored four stage points in the second stage and finished 12th, one spot off his best career finish on a road course.

MORE: Brandon Brown wants to reward father with a special celebration

MORE: Austin Cindric wins at Road America 

Brown’s effort and Jeremy Clements misfortune in being collected in a crash to finish 29th led to Brown extending his lead on Clements for the final spot in the Xfinity playoff grid to 53 points. Myatt Snider is 73 points behind Brown. Eight races remain until the Xfinity playoffs begin Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Here is a look at the playoff grid. Drivers shaded in green are locked in the playoffs. Those shaded in yellow are in a playoff spot based on their point total. Drivers shaded in red are outside a spot in the Xfinity playoff grid.