Gase draws primetime attention

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By K.J. PILCHER AND SCOTT SAVILLE

If you don’t already know Joey Gase, you will get the chance this weekend, along with many others.

As Gase prepares to race at Iowa Speedway, viewers from across the country will be introduced to the 20-year-old race car driver from Cedar Rapids.

ESPN plans to run a package on Gase, his family and organ donation, leading up to Saturday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway in Newton. Coverage will be before the race, which is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

The feature focuses on Gase’s efforts with organ donation and the sudden death of his mother, Mary Jo, who suffered a fatal aneurysm in April 2011. At 18, Gase had to make the final decision for his mom’s donations. Gase expects the story to be produced and received well.

“I’ve seen clips of that,” Gase said. “I haven’t seen the whole thing put together yet, but what I’ve seen so far was really good and special. I knew ESPN would do a good job.”

ESPN came the week before the Nationwide race Iowa Speedway hosted in June. They interviewed Gase, his younger sister, Ashley, and 26-year-old Jordan Shaw, the recipient of a kidney from Mary Jo Gase after battling kidney disease since he was a youth. The process was a learning experience. It was much more than pulling out a camera and shooting footage and interviews.

“It was really cool,” said Gase, joking that ESPN nearly remodeled his family’s house for shoots. “I think the shots they got were amazing. … They were very professional.”

The package coincides with the year anniversary of the Gase family meeting Shaw, giving them living proof of their mother’s impact through the gift of organ donation. Gase said he was grateful for Shaw and his family and their involvement. The time has flown by since meeting face-to-face in the media center in Iowa Speedway’s infield.

“I can’t believe it’s already been a year,” Gase said. “It feels like I just met Jordan yesterday. It was an amazing experience for us.”

Gase will make his fifth Nationwide start at Iowa Speedway this weekend, running for Jimmy Means Racing. The Iowa Donor Network will be on board again. Gase will have to wait until he returns home before he can tune in to the special package.

“I think I’ll see it for the first time after the race when I get back home and watch it on the DVR,” Gase said. “That will be a really special moment for our whole family.”

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