After putting together three full seasons of XFINITY Series competition, combined with 13 Sprint Cup Series starts, Joey Gase is getting the opportunity to run a pair of races he’s always dreamed of running in 2017.
The Cedar Rapids, Iowa native is set to run both the Daytona 500 and the Bristol August night race for BK Racing this upcoming season.
“Excited about it,” Gase told POPULAR SPEED. “Being able to race in the Cup Series is a lot of fun, and being in some of the best equipment that I have been in the Cup Series, and to be able to race in the Daytona 500 will be a dream come true. I’m good at restrictor plate races in the XFINITY Series, and I hope that’ll carry over to the Cup Series. Also, excited to race at Bristol in the night race for the first time, too. These two races are two of the biggest in NASCAR, and ones that you want to dream of being in during a kid growing up.”
While Gase has 13 previous Cup starts before this season, this year will mark his first opportunity to take part in the Great American Race to start the season. It’s an opportunity he’s not taking for granted, noting it means a lot to him.
“It took a lot of work and dedication, and this is a race that only 40 of the best get to run,” Gase said. “It’s the biggest race and people come all over to be at the race. So to be able to race in the event will be pretty amazing, and an eye-opening experience and it means a lot to me.”
Going into the races, Gase is keeping his goals in check, noting the first importance is running every lap and getting the best finish possible. Though after posting a top-five a couple of years ago at Talladega Superspeedway, he knows anything is possible with the restrictor plate factor at Daytona.
“With it being a restrictor plate race, we could either win it or finish last – and I feel that’s how everybody in the field is,” he said. “Everybody knows drafting is the big equalizer. You have to watch for the big one at the same time, and that big one can happen at the beginning or the end of the race. You just never know where that is. Our goals throughout Speedweeks will be to get the car good for the race, try and get a good qualifying spot, and see what we can do through the Daytona 500.
“In the other two races, if we could get in the top-25, that’d be a really good run for me.”
On top of the opportunity this year in Cup, Gase will be returning back to the XFINITY Series once again with Jimmy Means Racing for the full schedule.
“I think it’ll be the toughest competition that we’ve had in the XFINITY Series with a bunch of fully funded top teams coming in this year,” he said. “It’s going to be a fully stacked field, so with us being a smaller team, it’ll be even harder for us. If we continue to keep improving, I think we’ll be okay. At the superspeedways, if we can get another top-10 or top-five like we have in the past, and in the other races, try to be there as much as we can.”
Through every lap he can make on track, the 23-year-old is also spreading another important message in regards to organ donation.
The cause was brought to his attention when his mother died of a brain aneurysm in April of 2011. Shortly after, he began to learn more about organ donation, connecting with companies and foundations, forming a partnership with Donate Life.
For Gase, it’s not only about spreading awareness but educating others, as he says people would be surprised how much the decision to donate affects not only the recipient’s life but also the family of the donor.
“There are so many misconceptions out there about organ donation,” he said. “Lot of times if someone tells me they’re not an organ donor, I ask them why, and they don’t have a reason why. I then tell them that’s a great reason to be an organ donor if you don’t have a reason to not be.”
The work he has been doing was recognized by XFINITY and Comcast last year when he picked up the Community Champion Award.
“When we picked it up last year, it was very amazing,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting to be even a finalist – so being a finalist was vry humbling. Nobody knew who the overall winner would be till they announced at the banquet. When I heard my name, I didn’t know what to think or expect, but I was very thankful, and I think it helped open a lot of eyes in the donation front. All the awareness that XFINITY, Comcast was able to get for us was really amazing; they were really open to helping us out, and obviously the donation they made really helped out as well.”
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