After a rough start to the NASCAR XFINITY Series season, Joey Gase will be looking to turn his luck around at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Prior to the Boyd Gaming 300, the Go Green Racing driver answered some questions for POPULAR SPEED.
POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts going into Las Vegas this weekend?
JOEY GASE: I’m looking forward to it. We have a new team this year and Daytona, everything went great until the first green-white-checkered and we got taken out in the big one. At Atlanta, we struggled a little bit in practice and qualifying. In the race, we actually had a decent run going, drove up to 21st, and unfortunately we had a right rear tire give out on us, and that cost us a lap on pit road. I think this weekend in Vegas we’re hopefully going to unload much better, and have a better weekend.
Like I said, we’re a new team and we’re growing, and we’re learning each other, and we don’t have any notes to fall back on. I think we’re doing well right now at our Go Green Racing team, and I’m also excited about doing double duty this weekend on the (Monster Energy NASCAR) Cup Series side. We’ll be teaming up with Nevada Donor Network on the Cup and XFINITY side.
PS: What are your goals for this year?
JOEY: Our goal for this season is to be as competitive as we can, and then also our hopes are to finish in the top-15 in driver points. We’d be really happy if we could somehow break into the playoffs. We know that’s a lofty goal, but we think it is possible. But our main goal is to get a top-15, and finish as many times as we can in the top-20 every weekend. That’s our goal, and to learn as much as we can, and do as well as we can. We have a good group of guys and a lot of support behind us.
PS: What are the challenges in being one of the small teams stacking up against the top organizations in the series?
JOEY: There’s probably too many to count, as far as challenges go. I mean, the biggest one is the big teams have so many different resources and simulation. So a lot of them they have the ability to unload a lot better a lot of times than what we can and be close, but they have the full Sim program that unfortunately we don’t have right now. When you have that, you can unload better and it helps you predict what the track is going to do when it gets hotter or colder. Like, qualifying in Atlanta was in the early morning, so it was a lot cooler than when we practiced, so the track had a lot more grip, so they were able to estimate what their travels would be a lot easier. The man power they have is a lot more, too.
This is the most funding that I’ve had going into a season, so we’re a lot better off than what I have been in years past. But like you said, we’re still definitely considered a smaller budget team compared to the big guys. The big guy’s sponsorship budgets are anywhere from $5 to $7 million a year, so they can do a lot with that, as far as keeping on building new cars and having new cars lined up, plus their SIM programs and wind tunnel time.
I think the new composite bodies and hawkeye will help a little bit, but now the bigger teams are starting to focus not as much on the top-side of the car, but now underneath the car making the downforce under there. A lot of people don’t realize that can be done, but that’s where a lot of downforce can be made.
PS: Beyond Las Vegas this weekend, what track are you looking forward to getting to?
JOEY: I love the superspeedways and the flat short tracks, like Iowa Speedway, Richmond, and Phoenix. I feel like those really suit my driving style and I can do really well at those tracks, and I’ve proven that throughout the past. Those are definitely my favorite tracks to go to, so I’m really looking forward to going to Phoenix in a couple weeks.
PS: Who is your racing hero?
JOEY: When I was growing up, it was definitely my dad that got me into racing. He raced before I did at the local short track level at our home track and I just loved going out to the track and watch him race every weekend. It was my favorite thing to do.
Besides him, at the NASCAR level, it was definitely Rusty Wallace and Ken Schrader. Rusty was just someone that I grew to like, and he was really good at the smaller tracks. Kenny Schrader – I just loved his passion for racing. He would race every night of the week, no matter what type of car it was. He actually came out and raced at my home track quite a bit and he’d always stick around after the race and do autographs, so I thought that was pretty cool.
PS: Having some fun now, and letting the fans get to know you more. What’s your favorite food?
JOEY: Chicken. I love chicken. It’s healthy for you, and I think it tastes good.
PS: On the flip side, what’s your least favorite food?
JOEY: Probably any kind of vegetable.
PS: Dream vacation spot?
JOEY: I think it would be really cool to go to Europe or Asia. I’ve never been over there. I’ve been outside of the country just a few times, and that was Jamaica and Mexico, which is beautiful. I would love to head over to Europe sometime.
PS: What is your favorite TV show?
JOEY: In high school, it was That’s 70 Show. But now, it’s the Big Bang Theory.
PS: If you were stuck on an island, what are three things you must have?
JOEY: I don’t know for sure; that’s a hard one. I don’t know. I’ll have to do a pass on that one.
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