|Gase turns laps during practice. [Photo: Zach Catanzareti]|
Joey Gase scores his best finish of the 2016 XFINITY Series season after placing 23rd in Saturday’s Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 200 at Dover International Speedway.
Standing as his eighth start at the track known as the Monster Mile, Gase says it fits the name.
“It’s really aggressive that’s for sure,” Gase said. “The straightaways have banking but nothing like the turns. You’re really hanging in there and you watch the noses of the cars and they almost lift up off the racetrack when you go in.”
From the drop of the flag to start Friday practice, Gase and the No. 52 Db Sales Chevrolet team fought hard to secure a solid setup for Saturday’s heat race and the 120-lap main.
Finishing 35th with a lap time of 25.090 seconds in first practice, Gase picked up more than a half-second in final practice with a 24.515.
“Practice went pretty good, really,” Gase said. “We started off struggling pretty bad and then we kept getting on it. Picked up, I think, three-quarters of a second throughout practice. Our tires kept getting older, so that was good.”
Next up was Saturday qualifying where Gase picked up an additional 0.046 seconds from happy hour, ending the session with a 24.469, good enough for 32nd on the board.
“We’re going to be on a lot of scuff [tires],” he said. “We actually qualified on 20-lap scuffs there in 32nd. So we are pretty happy with that. When the feature starts, we’ll be on our one set of stickers and that should help us out. Hopefully we’ll have a good race.”
Starting heat No. 2 in the 16th spot, Gase gained two spots on track to officially start 28th for the feature.
|Gase during Saturday qualifying. [Photo Zach Catanzareti]|
“The heat race went OK. We were on old tires there,” he said. “We picked up a few spots from what we qualified and that was good. Normally everyone takes it pretty easy in the heats.”
Once the green flag flew, Gase got into a rhythm on the high banks of Dover as he gained some spots before the opening caution on lap 72.
Saving a fresh set of tires for the main, the opening run went smooth for the Jimmy Means Racing team.
“The feature we had good tires the whole race which helps with being a smaller team,” he said. “To have good tires for only 120 laps.”
Ahead of drivers like Brandon Jones and Paul Menard, who are each out of the Richard Childress Racing stable, Gase found himself in contention for a top-20 finish in the closing stages as he climbed up the running order.
Coming home in the 23rd spot, Gase tied his best-ever Dover result as he jumped to 22nd in driver championship standings.
“What we were able to do this week – a small team and we are racing RCR and the [No.] 33 car and those guys. You can’t beat that,” he said. “We’re maybe 1/8th of their budget. That was pretty cool to be able to do that. Got it in before the rain so it was a good weekend.”
Jimmy Means is the legendary team owner behind the scenes on the No. 52 team. The 65-year-old said the season-best result is a strong positive for the team moving forward.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of attrition, the car handled pretty good,” Means said. “It’s just something to build on for next race.”
Gase and team head to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Hisense 300 on May 28 with Agri Supply.