Race Weekend Central

When Life Throws You a Bumper, Make Lemonade (Or a Sponsorship)

While action may have gone cold for the most part during the NASCAR Cup Series’ short-track swing, there was plenty of heat on the NASCAR Xfinity Series side.

The moment that stood out, both in fans’ minds and across the internet, was the run-in between Joey Gase and Dawson Cram at Richmond Raceway.

With just over 60 laps remaining, Cram and Gase made contact entering turn 1, resulting in Gase spinning into the wall and causing his car to look like a monster truck ran over it.

A clearly frustrated Gase walked to the back of his car, pulled off his nearly-detached bumper and began walking down toward traffic. What happened next can be deemed as “the throw heard around the world.”

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Gase’s hurl of his bumper onto Cram’s windshield cost him $5,000, but the incident traversed across NASCAR media pages and into the national spotlight.

But things didn’t stop there.

Most of you likely know the phrase, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” That is exactly what both drivers and their teams did from the conflict.

Within the week, Cram and JD Motorsports landed a sponsor for the Xfinity Martinsville Speedway race: Xpress Auto Glass, an auto glass repair company out of Charlotte, N.C.

“I’m always trying to be positive and spin everything to be a good thing no matter what it is,” Cram told Frontstretch. “Unfortunately, that incident did happen, and everyone hates to see a race car torn up, but we love the media that came out of it.

“The thing was to hit up an auto glass company since my windshield got hit. That plexiglas stood up perfectly fine and we were able to continue on racing, so we were able to sell it off of that. You never know what’s going to happen on the road or the racetrack, so you should always have someone there to take care of you, and Xpress Auto Glass saw the magic there and decided to hop on board, and they loved it.”

The same day Xpress joined Cram, Gase landed a sponsor of his own for his Joey Gase Motorsports team. Bumpers That Deliver signed on as a partner for Gase, including a primary appearance at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 17.

“We’re really excited to have Bumpers That Deliver on board with us coming up at Michigan,” Gase told Frontstretch. “We’re always excited when we get a brand-new partner to team up with us. The Richmond deal was a lot of really bad things for our team for sure. Obviously, we’re trying to make the most good out of it that we can.

“Obviously, I don’t think we could have gotten a better partner with the name that they have and what happened there in Richmond, ’cause I was delivering a bumper, obviously. It’s really cool with the publicity we’ve been able to get from getting Bumpers That Deliver.”

Not only were both drivers able to land fitting sponsorship deals, but they also took further action on their marketing in the form of t-shirt sales.

Gase has partnered with multiple nonprofits such as Donate Life and the National Crime Prevention Council. And it just so happens that Cram’s t-shirt sales proceeds will go to support Donate Life, an organization committed to increasing the donation of organs to save lives.

“I hated seeing that for Joey,” Cram said. “I have run some for him before. I actually ran Donate Life South Carolina on the car when I drove for him that one time, so I was able to put it in my mind, talked with my owner Johnny Davis, and he thought it was a good idea to give all the proceeds from the t-shirts to Donate Life America.

“It was great to, number one, get t-shirts out there with my name on it, and number two, raise money for a good cause.”

Cram’s shirts feature a graphic of Gase throwing the bumper at his car, with the phrase reading “Sometimes you’re the bumper, Sometimes you’re the windshield.” The shirts are no longer available, according to Cram’s website.

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Gase is raising money on his own through the sale of his t-shirts to support the National Crime Prevention Council’s “Take a Bite out of Crime.”

“It was something that we thought would sell well,” Gase chuckled. “And it has, and fans have a great response on it. The media has been pushing it for us too, which is great. The fans can go to our website or social media pages and click the link to order their own shirt, and 50% of the proceeds are going to the National Crime Prevention Council and hope that they do what they need to do, and that’s to stop crimes.”

While both drivers cashed in the marketing opportunities stemming from the incident, working hard and thinking outside the box to create opportunities are traits they are not foreign to.

Cram is only 22 years old, yet he has to climb his way up the ranks in what has become a lost art in the garage, at least when a driver makes it to the national level. The San Diego, Calif. native spent time turning wrenches as a mechanic for JDM in 2020 when he was still a teenager.

“When I was 18, I graduated high school early and tried to go racing,” Cram said. “Unfortunately, my family didn’t have the funds to have me in a car every single weekend, so a way to get to the racetrack every week was to work on a race car, going to work on Saturdays and run the Truck race on Friday nights.

“It actually worked really well because we put Johnny [Davis] as my general manager so he could come into the Truck races and look for tires for his cars the next day […] There’s a lot of pride that I know how to work on these and get to work on my own car.”

As for Gase, he continues to blaze his own path as a small team owner. The Cedar Rapids, Ia. native has made 375 starts across all three series between several smaller or developing teams.

Involved in ownership since 2021, Gase understands more than most how important it is to keep a car clean. In a world where racing is already expensive, destroyed racecars cause that price tag to skyrocket even higher.

“Being a small team, we’re just about race-by-race when it comes to the funds, and every dollar adds up,” he noted. “In that situation (the Richmond crash), there were just so many things that made it so unfortunate. We were going to race that car the next weekend in Martinsville. At Richmond, you know wrecks are going to happen, but you don’t expect a car to get absolutely destroyed like this one did. We’re still going through it and every time we look at it, it gets worse and worse. We’re probably just going to have to completely junk the car and get another chassis and move parts and pieces that we can from that car to another.

“The competition in the [Xfinity] series right now is insanely stout, and I really call it the second Cup Series before the Cup Series went to the Next Gen car. I started with Jimmy Means, and back in 2012, 2017 you could be running top 20 on scuff tires all day, where now everyone is pretty much on stickers the entire race because you have to be. Back when I drove for Jimmy, the top 10 probably had speed every week, where now it’s the top 25 or more every week. It’s ridiculous, but it’s good at the same time I guess to see the competition so tough, but the costs have definitely gone up a ton as well.”

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As for the media spotlight they received from the bumper-to-windshield, neither one could have expected to be on The Stephen Colbert Show.

“In those situations, I guess you never know what’s going to come out of it or about it, but that was definitely a big shock for sure,” Gase said. “It’s odd when you turn on the computer, and on Google or Yahoo’s home pages it’s you in the news, so that definitely wasn’t expected.

Cram also was surprised at the news, yet he too gladly received national attention from the viral highlight.

“That’s definitely not one that crossed my mind, but I’m happy to know that [Colbert] knows my name,” the 22-year-old said.

Gase said that the two talked since Richmond and that Cram apologized, though what led to the contact remained unresolved. In Cram’s case, Gase’s reaction led to something that both and many across the garage had never seen before.

“I’ve seen nerf bars, I’ve seen helmets, HANS [devices], booties, but I’ve never seen a bumper,” Cram said about the thrown object.

Regardless, both drivers remain laser-focused on making gains and establishing themselves in their unique roles, and both deserve a healthy applause for how they took what could have been a bleak situation and instead gained recognition for their sponsors, charitable organizations and themselves. The garage needs more Crams and Gases.

About the author

Luken Glover joined the Frontstretch team in 2020 as a contributor, furthering a love for racing that traces back to his earliest memories. Glover inherited his passion for racing from his grandfather, who used to help former NASCAR team owner Junie Donlavey in his Richmond, Va. garage. A 2023 graduate from the University of the Cumberlands, Glover is the author of "The Underdog House," contributes to commentary pieces, and does occasional at-track reporting. Additionally, Glover enjoys working in ministry, coaching basketball, playing sports, and karting.

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