Joey Gase picked up the 6th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 at the Kansas Speedway when his unsponsored #52 Jimmy Means Racing Chevrolet fell out with electrical problems after 2 of 200 laps.
The finish, which came in Gase’s 249th series start, was his first of the season and first in a XFINITY Series race since April 27, 2019 at Talladega, 88 races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 24th for the #52, the 57th from electrical problems, and the 583rd for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 62nd for the #52, the 134th for electrical issues, and the 1,813th for Chevrolet.
|Gase entering pit road early in the race.|
PHOTO: Dominic Aragon, @TheRacnExperts
JMR opened the season with Gray Gaulding set for a second full-time campaign, but the year proved particularly challenging. While Gaulding finished 17th at Mid-Ohio and 18th under the lights at Bristol, he also failed to qualify four times, and his schedule was scaled back. This opened the door for other drivers to bring much-needed sponsorship, including Spencer Boyd, Akinori Ogata, and road racer Dave Smith. By the fall race at Las Vegas, Rick Ware Racing entered a car in Means’ place, bringing it to the track with one of the Cup cars and putting Carson Ware behind the wheel. Gase then brought a Ford of his own for Talladega, which yielded a 15th-place run, the team’s new season-best. But by then, the team had announced they were still looking for sponsors for the season’s final five races.
|Gase pulls up to the team's hauler.|
Rolling off 40th and last in Saturday’s field was Gray Gaulding, whose Mike Harmon Racing #74 Chevrolet has had similar sponsorship struggles in this second half of the season, limiting Bayley Currey’s own planned full-time effort. While Currey would finish 16th on Saturday with JD Motorsports, Gaulding would run the same Sci Aps paint scheme base most often used by C.J. McLaughlin, but with no logos on the hood and a decal for the local KOA campground on the quarter-panels. Findlay Cadillac was Gaulding’s listed sponsor on the entry list.
Gaulding would be joined in the back by two teams docked for driver changes. Loris Hezemans was swapped into MBM’s #61 Autoparts4less.com Toyota, replacing the listed Chad Finchum in the 36th spot, and 39th-place Garrett Smithley was named to the #17 Jacob Companies Toyota following Wednesday’s news involving Carson Ware’s arrest and subsequent indefinite suspension from NASCAR and both SS-Green Light Racing and Rick Ware Racing. Smithley would finish a solid 18th.
After some delays for both Hezemans and Jordan Anderson in the #31 Bommarito Automotive Group Chevrolet getting ready on pit road, Gaulding radioed that some spacers fell out of Patrick Emerling’s 34th-place #23 Spirit Snorkeling Chevrolet. He made requests for NASCAR to force Emerling back to pit road as the #23 crew retrieved the spacers from pit road, but there was no indication that anything was communicated to Emerling. Emerling's crew chief and car chief would both be handed four-race supensions for the issue after the race.
Gaulding took the green flag ahead of the penalized Hezemans and Smithley, though Hezemans beat Gaulding to the line for 37th.
|Gaulding in the garage with engine trouble.|
He'd finish in 39th.
When the race started, however, last place had immediately gone to Gase, who was 6.259 seconds back of the lead and nearly two full seconds back of 39th-place Smithley as the field took the green. As Gase made it to pit road to complete Lap 1, NASCAR was checking with their spotters to see if there was any debris on the track. By the time Gase crossed the line, he was already 27.887 seconds back of the lead and 21.341 seconds back of new 39th-place driver Hezemans. On Lap 3, Gase was rolling again, but was told to “stay very low” as the leaders raced past him in the high lane. He was then called to pit road a second time on Lap 5, and pulled behind the wall. The crew radioed they were done for the day on Lap 10, followed two laps later by the confirming message from NASCAR’s garage official.
Gaulding ended up 39th when his engine let go before he could make it to the competition caution on Lap 20. LASTCAR XFINITY Series championship leader David Starr pulled into the garage after 23 laps with a misfire in the engine, but his #66 Brett Baier “To Rescue The Republic” Ford returned to the track before the halfway point and passed two more drivers. These were Jade Buford, who slammed head-on into the trioval wall, ending his race in the #48 Big Machine Spiked Coolers Chevrolet, and Mason Massey, who made it to pit road after a cut right-front tire put his #5 Gerber Collision & Glass Toyota into the fence, only to fall out. Starr crossed the finish line just in front of race winner Ty Gibbs, 48 laps down, but still under power.
*This marked the first last-place finish for both Gase and the #52 in a XFINITY Series race at Kansas.
*Gase is the fourth driver to finish last in a XFINITY race at Kansas due to electrical issues and the first since October 15, 2016, when Timmy Hill dropped out after 11 laps.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #52-Joey Gase / 2 laps / electrical
39) #74-Gray Gaulding / 13 laps / engine
38) #48-Jade Buford / 28 laps / crash
37) #5-Mason Massey / 133 laps / crash
36) #66-David Starr / 152 laps / running
2021 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) B.J. McLeod Motorsports (5)
2nd) Mike Harmon Racing (4)
3rd) Motorsports Business Management (3)
4th) DGM Racing, JD Motorsports, Jimmy Means Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, JR Motorsports, Our Motorsports, RSS Racing / Reaume Brothers Racing (2)
5th) Brandonbilt Motorsports, Sam Hunt Racing, Rick Ware Racing / SS-Green Light Racing, SS-Green Light Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)
2021 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (22)
2nd) Toyota (8)
3rd) Ford (1)
2021 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP