Auto Racing

Joey Gase finds more Xfinity Series success with new team

Cedar Rapids native will get Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series shot next weekend

Joey Gase walks around during practice at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala., on May 5, 2017. (USA TODAY Sports)
Joey Gase walks around during practice at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala., on May 5, 2017. (USA TODAY Sports)

Joey Gase has worked with a brand new team this season.

The 25-year-old Cedar Rapids native has had some newfound success on the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

“We’ve been much more competitive than I ever had been in the past in the Xfinity Series,” said Gase, who has teamed with Go Green Racing after a five-year stint with Jimmy Means Racing. “We’ve been marching in the right way.”

Gase will make his eighth start this season Friday in the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. He enters this weekend 21st in driver points, boasting three straight top-20 finishes and four already this season.

Richmond Raceway features a design used in building Iowa Speedway, with the Newton track having more banking. The Virginia track is one of Gase’s favorites.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to run really well there,” Gase said. “I’m excited to get there again. We’ll be running even better now with this new team.”

Gase matched his best finish of the season last Saturday, finishing 16th in the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Gase’s top-20 finishes have come in the last five races. He was also 16th in the Roseanne 300 in March and had 20th-place runs at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7 and Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 3.

The lone result outside the top 20 during the stretch was 24th at ISM Raceway in Phoenix on March 10, despite qualifying 19th.

“We’ve been running pretty good every week,” Gase said. “Hopefully, we can keep it going in the right direction.”

Gase was reunited with GGR owner Archie St. Hilaire, who was responsible for Gase’s debut in this series in 2011 at Iowa Speedway. St. Hilaire also owns the Go Fas Racing team that competes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and decided to add a full-time Xfinity Series ride.

“He likes what I did,” said Gase, who praised sponsor Sparks Energy for funding the opportunity. “I liked what he’s been doing in the Cup Series, building and getting better and better, so one thing led to another and we formed this team.

“Hopefully, next year or the year after that I’ll be full-time in the Cup Series and he’ll be adding a second car up there.”

The season started slow as the team members got to know each other and the new equipment. Gase said the first few weekends they made strides from the moment they unloaded to the end of competition. Each week has been accompanied by progress.

Gase likened it to another sports team, learning the strengths of personnel and meshing. St. Hilaire has set him up with seasoned leader Patrick Donahue.

“Luckily, we have a great crew chief, who has been doing this for a long time,” Gase said. “He worked with Jeff Gordon in the ‘Rainbow Warrior’ days. We have great people around us. Everyone knows what the goal is, so it’s been great.”

Gase, who has 23 career Cup Series starts, will get another shot at NASCAR’s highest level next weekend. On Tuesday, it was announced that Gase will get behind the 00 car for StarCom racing for the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, which is the home track for Sparks Energy – the sponsor of the XFINITY Series race that weekend.

Interestingly, Gase will take the StarCom wheel that mentor and fellow Cedar Rapids native, Landon Cassill, led to a 20th-place finish last weekend and will run again this weekend at Richmond.

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“I’ve had some really strong runs there in both Cup and the Xfinity side,” Gase said. “I got a fifth-place (Xfinity) finish there a couple years ago and last year I got my best Cup finish of 21st, so far.

“It’s a really big weekend for myself and my sponsor. Talladega is always a lot of fun.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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