DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Twenty-six-year-old Joey Gase realizes he has more opportunities in his career to make the Daytona 500 starting lineup.
Meanwhile, 43-year-old Brendan Gaughan knows his chances of competing in the Daytona 500 are dwindling.
After losing the draft early in the race, Gaughan was able to finish ahead of both Gase and Casey Mears to clinch the final transfer position into Sunday’s Daytona 500 through the Gander RV Duels.
He got some help from Ford driver Corey LaJoie to finish 15th in Thursday night’s second Daytona 500 qualifying race. Mears was 17th, but gets into the starting lineup based on his qualifying speed from last Sunday’s single-lap qualifications.
Gase finished 20th in the 21-car starting lineup – not good enough to start his second Daytona 500 on Sunday,
“It’s always fun to be a part of it because you never know what will happen,” Gase told SPEED SPORT afterwards. “I’ve qualified 39th before at Talladega and finished fifth. You just always want the opportunity and hope you can make the best of it.
“They are a small team, but not as small as we are. They have help from Richard Childress Racing and ECR Motors. It was fun to race them while we could. The first thing was we had to beat the 62 (Gaughan) because if we didn’t beat him, we couldn’t get in. Then, we had beat the 27 (Mears). They teamed up at the end because of Brendan beat the 27, and all the 27 had to do was finish. They both have ECR power and Chevy and we are the only team here with our own motor that we build out of our own shop.
“We are legitimately the only team that builds our own motors and I’m proud of that. I think we made them scared for at least a few laps there.”
Gase admitted it’s not a good feeling to miss the Daytona 500, but he was proud of the effort. He’ll now turn his attention to Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, where he’ll drive for same MBM Motorsports team that he worked with Thursday in the Gander RV Duel.
As for Gaughan, he’s at Daytona for one last shot at glory. He made his first Cup Series start in 2004 and competed in just four races last season.
With time running out in his career, Gaughan was determined to get into the field.
“I’m just an old retired guy the Beards brought out of retirement because I can still get it done on a restrictor-plate track and this is why I do it,” Gaughan told SPEED SPORT after climbing out of his car on pit lane. “We can win this race on Sunday, now that we are in the race on Sunday.
“I don’t think I’ve had butterflies like this for at least 10 years in the race car. “I’m glad it’s over.
“I always come off as the class clown, but I was really nervous. The Beard family put so much into this race car and thank you, Corey LaJoie, he stuck with us on that pit stop and that is what kept us in the game. I tried to keep it chill, but this is the most nervous I’ve been in a decade.”
Gaughan said Gase is “one blocking dude” and is tough to pass in the Xfinity Series.
“When I lost that pack and had to battle so hard to get by Joey, I knew I had to get rid of him, and then we picked up Casey Mears and I still had to beat him to get in,” Gaughan said. “Our whole race was about the 66 and the 27. As soon as we got screwed up off the start, the 27 was the next best car. We got tagged up with him and had a mini-draft of our own.
“I never smelled more things about to be a catastrophe that wasn’t there.”