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MENCS: Joey Gase Earns Best Cup Finish at Talladega

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series regular, Joey Gase strapped into the 00 for StarCom Racing for the fourth time this season when the series visited Talladega Superspeedway for the 1000bulbs.com 500.

There are always a lot of unknowns when NASCAR races at the 2.66-mile oval of Talladega.

However, one thing is for sure, the smaller teams have a chance to capitalize and leave the track with a good finish.

Gase would do just that on Sunday afternoon when he crossed the finish line in the 18th position for his best finish in a Cup car since his debut in NASCAR’s premiere series in 2014.

The 25-year old qualified his No. 00 PFK Foundation/Sparks Energy Inc Chevrolet to a 37th spot qualifying effort.

With the racing at restrictor-plate tracks starting at the back of the pack isn’t always a bad thing. Gase would start the race side-by-side his StarCom Racing teammate Landon Cassill who was piloting the No. 99 StarCom Fiber Chevrolet.

Early on Gase reported he was a little loose, the team adjusted the track bar on the next pit stop.

Back on track he would draft with the JTG-Daugherty teammates of Chris Buescher and AJ Allmendinger and end stage 1 scored in the 31st position.

Gase would continue to make strong gains through out the second stage running solidly inside the Top-20 and with 42 laps remaining Gase was scored as high as 12th.

Gase continued to consistently run within the Top-20 towards the end of the race and pick off cars one by one.

With a late race caution with two laps remaining Gase avoided the may lay and was good to go on fuel until the end. Crossing the checkers to a solid 18th place position, his best finish on the season to this point.

Gase tweeted following the race at Talladega, saying the following.

While Gase isn’t full-time in the MENCS, he’s had a consistent year in the Xfinity Series with 12 top-20 finishes, and he currently sits 20th in the NXS points standings following last weeks event at Dover International Speedway.

After a weekend off from racing the series will be back in action next weekend at Kansas Speedway for the Kansas Lottery 300.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Gase some questions about his weekend at Talladega and his season thus far. Here is what he had to say.

Sarah Handy: You were able to make a lot of gains in on track position throughout the race at Talladega. How would you evaluate the race? Were you happy with how the car ran?

Joey Gase: Our car did not have a lot of single car speed, but it drafted very well. At the start of the race I was a little too free but once we got it tighten up I was very happy with the car.

SH: Being on a smaller team do you find it more difficult to find someone to work with you at tracks like Daytona and Talladega?

JG: Being a smaller team definitely makes it more difficult to find partners on the track mainly because people want to find partners with fast cars. Sometimes other teams’ drivers assume we are not going to be fast just because we are a small team. This past weekend was definitely a little better than normal for us finding partners but still was not great. I think that has to do with us being able to prove ourselves the last couple speedway races.

SH: Earlier in the month it was announced that Talladega will run a new rules package starting in 2019 in the MENCS. What are your thoughts on the changes to the downforce aero package?

JG: I understand the rule change, it’s to help with the cost for the engine builders and team owners so we don’t have to have too many engine combinations. I think it was a good move to wait until after the Daytona 500 to make this change though. When Talladega comes we will just have to wait and see what kind of racing it brings, but I am sure it will be just as good as it is now.

SH: Sunday’s 18th place finish was your best finish in a Cup car since your Cup debut in 2014, that must provide some momentum and make you feel proud of how the weekend went?

JG: Yes, it definitely felt good to get my first top 20 in the Cup Series and match StarCom’s best ever finish. Last year at the SuperSpeedways was a great year for us on both the Cup and XFINITY Side. This year at the Super Speedways we have had nothing but bad luck on both the Cup and XFINITY until last weekend in Talladega. It felt great to finally break that bad streak.

SH: Do you have any more races planned with StarCom Racing this season?

JG: Yes, I will be doing at least two more races with StarCom this year. Those will be announced very soon!

SH: You’ve been running very consistent in the Xfinity Series this season how would you evaluate your season in the series up to this point?

JG: I would say we have a good year but not a great year up to this point. I have had the most top 20’s this season than I’ve ever had in my entire career and have had some really strong runs running with some of the top teams. If we can do that a few more times this year it will be a good season for us.

SH: After an off week the NXS is headed to Kansas this weekend, what would you say is the most challenging thing about racing there, and is it a track you enjoy?

JG: I do enjoy racing at Kansas. I kind of consider it being a little bit of a home track with it being one of the closest home tracks to my home town of Cedar Rapids, IA. One of the challenges of Kansas is that you never really know what to expect in the race. I have done many races there that have been a wreck fest and I have also been in races that have been mostly green flag runs. You just never really know what to expect going into the weekend.

 

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About Sarah Handy

Sarah Handy is a NASCAR writer. You can find her on Twitter at @SarahHandy85. A college student studying Communications/Public Relations Field and an Electronics Associate at Walmart. Sarah enjoys tweeting about racing, running, reading, puzzles, video games, and photography. Born and raised in Rhode Island, Sarah avidly follows all major New England Teams (Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins & Celtics) as well as a huge fan of what she considers her “home track” New Hampshire Motor Speedway which she attends each year.

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