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A new role for Joey Gase in 2022
Cedar Rapids NASCAR driver will focus on Xfinity Series and team ownership
Joey Gase is ready to go racing.
Only this year, things will be a bit different for the Cedar Rapids NASCAR driver. OK, things will be a lot different.
For one thing, Gase will not be driving in the Cup Series very often, an arena he has driven in full-time since 2020 and has 90 career starts the past eight years.
Gase will return his focus to the Xfinity Series in 2022, where he has 249 starts since 2011, the summer after he graduated from Xavier High School.
But even that has a twist. Gase will be a part-time driver for Joey Gase Racing, which has teamed with Patrick Emerling Motorsports to form Emerling-Gase Motorsports.
That’s right. Gase, who turned 29 earlier this month, now is a NASCAR team owner.
“It’s been stressful to say the least,” he said recently from his home in Charlotte, N.C., before heading to Daytona, Fla., for Saturday’s “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. 300.”
“There is a lot to do as an owner ... spending a lot of money,” he said. “There’s definitely a big learning curve.
“I’ve learned a lot of all the different things you have to do as an owner ... The smallest things are big things you have to get done.”
After starting JGR, Gase teamed with Emerling because he had things to offer Gase didn’t — like 23 points from the 2021 season — and vice versa. The two have a team of eight crew members and three drivers — Gase, Emerling and Shane Lee.
Lee will drive the full-time Xfinity car, Gase and Emerling the part-time car.
“We both share the same vision and goals for the future, and we are both true racers at heart,” Gase said in a news release after the announcement. “The other cool thing is that we will be two of the youngest owners in the sport (Emerling also is 29), but still have a lot of experience and knowledge to go with that.”
Gase isn’t dreaming of pulling into Victory Lane or winning point titles — yet — and said he just hopes to “survive” his first season as an owner-driver.
“We’re looking decent right now,” he said. “It’s worked out great so far.
“We have realistic expectations. ... a Top 20 on a normal weekend would be like a win to us.”
Gase started this new phase for a variety of reasons. The offseason, he said, is “brutal” for drivers not on one of the elite Cup teams. They spend all winter looking for a ride and finding sponsors to bring to a team.
“I control my own destiny now,” he said.
Another was NASCAR’s move to the “Next Gen” car. The cars may bring parity to the Cup Series, but are a strain on the smaller teams. Gase said the cars cost between $300,000 to $350,000.
The teams Gase drove for in the past bought used equipment from those bigger outfits, but now “everything has to be brand-new.”
And this move fits in Gase’s career plan. NASCAR is in his blood, but there will come a time when he no longer gets behind the wheel. This sets him up for a future in the sport.
“It’s been in the back of my mind for a while,” he said.
But make no mistake. Gase isn’t close to “retiring” as a driver. He hopes to get a few opportunities in the Cup Series and will race “not full-time, but it will be a lot” in the Xfinity Series.
“That’s one thing that hasn’t changed,” he said. “You do all this so you can get on the racetrack and drive.
“I’m still hoping to drive for a very long time.”
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