During his XFINITY Series off weekend Gase would team up with StarCom Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series piloting the #00 Chevy Camaro. Last weekend was Gase's 6th Cup Series start of the 2018 season and 4th with StarCom Racing.
They kicked off the playoff weekend with one practice session Saturday afternoon. On his second run out in the PFK Foundation #00 Gase was coming through the tri-oval on the front stretch and heard a loud pop. The car started to wander back and forth as he made his way through turns one and two. Luckily Joey was able to hold on and slow the car down quick enough. It was later determined that the left rear tire had about a one inch cut right in the middle which caused the tire to go down. Crew Chief Rick Bourgeois relayed the information to Gase as he sat in the car while they were assessing the left rear. He applauded him saying "Good catch there Joey. That could've been really bad. That pop you heard was definitely the tire." They would throw a fresh set of Goodyear's on and work on the cars handling while drafting. Once practice was all said and done he would end with the 28th fastest lap.
Later in the evening they were all set for single car qualify for Sunday's 1000Bulbs.com 500. Gase would be the 14th car out on the track to make his lap. After all 41 cars had taken a lap; he ended up putting together the 37th fastest lap.
Sunday had finally come and the team was ready to build on their 27th place finish from the spring race. The green flag would wave and just 10 laps into the race they would see their first caution. Under the caution, Gase would report that his PFK Foundation #00 was free all the way around. With the information provided CC Bourgeois told the crew to drop the track bar one round. He would bring it to pit road for fuel only to get him to the end of the 55 lap stage.
After the field would get the green flag once again they would finish out the remainder of the stage. Gase picked up 6 spots and would end the first stage in 31st. Between stages he would tell CC Bourgeois that he still needed to be tightened up a bit. Therefore when he brought it to pit road and he would adjust the tire pressures on his fresh set and add some wedge to help tightened him up.
Shortly after the second stage would get under way, the races second caution would come out for the #48 of Jimmie Johnson. He would bring it back down to pit road for tires and fuel only. They would stay green for another 40 laps before the next caution would come out. Under the third caution of the day, Gase said that the car was pretty decent that run. So he would only take four tires and fuel to get him to the end of the stage. He would ultimately end the second stage in 22nd.
Since they had taken fresh tires their last stop before the end of the stage; they decided to only take fuel between the stage. In doing so, he picked up nine spots and would restart the final stage in 13th.
The final stage would begin on lap 115 making it a 73 lap dash to the checkered. They would stay under the green for about 21 laps before another caution was drawn for the #1 of Jamie McMurray spinning into the grass on the front stretch. CC Bourgeois would make the call to come down pit road under caution for tires and fuel to set up a "gas-n-go" later on in the race.
They would get the green on lap 141. A couple laps later Gase had climbed his way back into the top 15 sitting in 14th with 40 laps remaining. On lap 159 another caution would come out but this time it was for an uncontrolled tire on pit road that had rolled all the way out to the infield grass. This would set up Gase for his "gas-n-go" stop on pit road.
With about 20 laps remaining Gase had put his PFK Foundation Chevy in the 12th position. He would struggle to find drafting partners and would drop back to 21st. With only two laps remaining a big wreck would collect a couple of cars right in front of Gase, but he and his spotter did a great job avoiding any damage. This wreck would extend the race into overtime making it a green-white-checkered finish to determine the winner of the 1000Bulbs.com 500.
The last two laps were just as crazy as expected. The field was three and four-wide for a majority of the two lap shootout. On the very last lap another wreck would collect more cars right in front of Gase once again. He sustained a little nose damage but he fought through and ended up bringing it around to the checkered in 18th.
After the race Gase said over the radio, "Great job today guys! It feels so good to finally finish one of these damn things." Gase has showed lots of speed on all of the speedway races this year in both his XFINITY and Cup Series rides; but just hasn't had luck on his side. This weekend he had a sigh of relief as he finally had luck fall his way.
Sunday's result would be Gase's career best finish in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and would match StarCom's best team finish. Gase returns to his full time XFINITY ride next weekend as his Go Green Racing team heads to Kansas Speedway.
Joey Gase PR