The weekend was looking bright for Gase and his Go Green Racing team despite the cloudy and rainy weather. Gase had a solid day of practice on Friday afternoon putting together the 20th fastest lap with very little drafting in the first practice session. Then only doing a couple of laps in final practice recording the 24th fastest lap time at the conclusion of the session. The team was satisfied with how the car was driving in the draft and decided to park it for the remainder of practice to save it for Saturday's LTi Printing 250.
Gase and the team were set to make their qualifying run Saturday morning at 10:05 ET, but mother nature said otherwise. With the torrential downpour for hours, NASCAR had decided to cancel qualifying and the starting lineup would be determined by owner points. Which meant that Gase would start Saturday's LTi Printing 250 in 19th.
Green flag was scheduled to wave at 1:30pm ET, but mother nature had struck once again. With the rain steadily dropping, teams were cooped up in their haulers passing time and watching the radar hoping there will be a break in the storm to squeeze in the race. That break in the storm wouldn't come until 4:00pm. Drivers were finally able to climb into their cars and we would finally get to race at 4:45.
The green flag had waved and the dreaded rain delay had finally come to an end. Throughout the week you heard many drivers, Gase included, stating that with the new aero package this race would have a Daytona or Talladega feel to it. As you know, that usually means that there will be many wrecks and there's always "the big one." So to try and avoid "the big one" Gase's plan was to be patient and find a comfortable group to draft with to see how things panned out. In doing so, he found a pack of about 5 cars and was hovering around 23rd.
They would get their first caution of the afternoon on lap 15 when the #20 of Christopher Bell went spinning and made some contact with the outside wall. Just before the caution had come out, Gase relayed to Crew Chief Patrick Donahue that his Sparks Energy Chevrolet was free on entry and tight off. There would only be 10 laps remaining in the first segment when they would get the green flag again, so the team decided to wave pit road and Gase would restart in 14th. He would drop back a bit once the stage had restarted, and they would remain green for the rest of the stage.
In between the stages Gase would come down pit road for four tires, fuel, two rounds up on the track bar, and one round out of the left rear to help his entry and up off the turns. When Gase took off down pit road after his stop he said "The motor sounded weird and I'm starting to smell something different." So he would bring it back to pit road to see what might be the issue. When opening the deck lid smoke was coming out of the breather in the back trunk. Joey would try to take off back out on the track and he said "it just wouldn't go." You can check out the video of his pit stop here and if you listen closely you can hear that something doesn't sound right when he takes off out of his pit box. So he would have to take the car back to the garage and unfortunately he was done for the day with a cracked head.
It wasn't the day that the team had hoped for, but their heads are still held high. They're not looking in the rear view mirror, they're looking forward to better days that are ahead. Next week Gase heads to his home track in Iowa Speedway. The team will look to bounce back strong and put on a great race for Joey's hometown fans.
Joey Gase PR