Go Green Racing had a promising weekend ahead in Daytona last weekend. The last two Superspeedway runs the team has posted impressive single car times and had been competing in the top 10 all race long. Last Friday was no different. After the first practice session on Thursday Gase and his Donate Life Florida / Sparks Energy Inc. Chevrolet had posted the 8th fastest lap time. Joey and the team were very happy with how the car sucked up and drove in the pack. They were also happy with how much speed it had by itself so they decided to park it for the afternoon. Unfortunately a rain front had made its way to DIS soaking the track and cancelling qualifying on Friday afternoon. Meaning they would start Friday nights Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 in 20th going off of owner points.
The green flag waved and right off the bat the teams speed had shown on the track. However, they were playing it a little conservative during the first stage and just hanging out at the back of lead pack. When they got the green/white checkered that ended stage one Joey had climbed his way up to 14th. At the end of the stage he said the car was pretty good but could be tightened up a bit on entry. So CC Patrick Donahue would lower the track bar 3 rounds and take half a pound of pressure out of the RR.
Stage two would be under way on lap 35 and would stay under the green the entire 25 laps. Gase was riding around in the top 15 all stage working the high groove. He would ultimately end the stage in the 14th position. He was really happy with how the car handled that stage so his stage two pit stop would consist of only right side tires and fuel. He would restart the final segment in 10th.
The final stage is where all the trouble began. The first caution of the night came on lap 72 when Ryan Reed went for a spin. They went back to green with 23 laps remaining in the race and 5 laps later is when Go Green Racing’s night came to a screeching halt. The leaders were racing hard with 18 laps left with a lot of really aggressive blocking. This would lead to Austin Cindric spinning in front of the whole field and eventually barrel rolling resulting in “the big one”. Gase had absolutely nowhere to go and was collected in the mess causing heavy damage to his nose and right side. The team worked hard to try and repair the damage on pit road to get him back out on the track to finish the race; but the damage was just too heavy on the RF suspension. With the 6 minute clock up Gase tried pulling out from his pit box but his patriotic schemed car would not turn to left ending his night.
They had the speed to get to the front to compete for a top 10 finish and even win the race! They just haven’t had any luck to get the finish that displays the team’s hard work. Gase posted later that night on social media, “Well Patrick and the guys gave me a rocket tonight and was in the top 15 all race. Unfortunately I guess you have to drive for a top Cup affiliated team for anyone to work with you. Running 14th with 10 to go and got caught up in the big one and had the 60 partially land on top of me. The good news is we get to try it again tomorrow.”
Saturday night Gase had a second shot at Daytona International Speedway piloting the #00 Sparks Energy car with StarCom Racing in the Coke Zero Sugar 400. Joey got a couple of single car runs in first practice on Thursday afternoon and had planned on drafting a bit in final practice to see how the car handled. However, Mother Nature had different plans. Right as final practice was about to begin, rain had started to fall from the dark clouds that had hovered over DIS. Ultimately cancelling and foiling their final practice plans.
The Coke Zero Sugar 400 was finally under way and Gase would cruise towards the back for most of the first stage to avoid any possible wrecks. They would stay green the entire stage and Gase would report that he was free on entry. He would get four tires, fuel, and a couple adjustments to help on his entry for the second stage.
“The big one” is always bound to happen at these Superspeedways, but it came earlier than usual on Saturday night. Shortly after they had gotten the green flag to start the second stage about 20 cars got waded up in turn 3 & 4 moving Joey up in the 10th position for the restart. He fought his way all the way up to 7th during the green flag run to the end of the stage and would end up finishing the segment in 12th.
The final stage had begun and everyone was holding their breath for Joey and SCR as a plethora of cautions had been drawn for cars wrecking while jockeying for position. However, with only 6 laps remaining and Gase running in 15th, he got turned entering turn three and hit the outside wall. Like his XFINITY ride, the damage was just too much to repair in the NASCAR mandated 6 minutes to get him back out on the track to finish the final laps.
Gase reflected on his night on social media, “Last night was some of the most fun I’ve ever had in a Cup car running in the top 15 & getting up to 6th at one point. Disappointed we got dumped by someone trying to push me in a tandem from turn 2 all the way into 3. Can’t thank StarCom Racing & Sparks Energy Inc enough for giving me the chance!
It was an unfortunate end to an all-around unlucky weekend for Gase. Despite the endings to both races there is a silver lining in all of this; he was running in the top 10 in both the NASCAR XFINITY Series and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. That’s a special feat not only for Joey as a driver, but the smaller teams like Go Green Racing & StarCom Racing.
Joey Gase PR