When the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series visit Talladega Superspeedway on 24/25 April, Joey Gase will sport a special number and livery. On Tuesday, he announced he will drive the #28 Ford Mustang in both series’ races for Rick Ware Racing, and both cars will feature a tribute paint scheme to the late Davey Allison.
After Allison, a 2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, died in a helicopter crash on the way to Talladega, his organs were donated and went to four recipients. At the time of his death, he was a nineteen-time Cup race winner, including the 1992 Daytona 500, and driving a black-and-red #28 Havoline car owned by Robert Yates Racing that has become a much beloved design among fans.
Gase’s mother Mary was also an organ and tissue donor, and her contributions following her passing helped 66 people. For much of Gase’s NASCAR career, he has raced with logos and messages urging others to do the same. As April is National Donate Life Month, it is perhaps fitting that Gase honour Allison, especially at a track where he won three times at the Cup level. Allison also had four Talladega victories in ARCA.
“When Davey passed, his family knew if he could no longer continue his life, he would want to do whatever he could to help others continue theirs,” Gase stated. “I want to show he was a hero both during his lifetime and after. As some know, my mom was an organ donor as well. It has become a mission of mine these last 10 years to keep her legacy alive by honoring donors and donor families and to help raise awareness for organ donation. There are currently over 110,000 people on the wait list nationwide for organ transplants. When I found out Davey was a donor, I thought it would be incredibly special to be able to honor him and his family at Talladega. It will be 28 years in July since Davey passed away.”
For the effort, RWR’s #17 Xfinity car will become the #28, while one of the team’s two multi-driver Cup cars will do the same. The #15 and #53 are being piloted by various names in 2021, but it will likely be the #53 that changes numbers as it has seen action as a Ford like Allison’s #28 (the #15 is exclusively a Chevrolet). Gase has run two races in the #53 in 2021 with a best finish of twentieth in the Daytona 500, while Talladega will mark his first Xfinity race of the year.
Both #28 cars will also emulate Allison’s Havoline paint scheme, including a variation of the Havoline logo on the hood. The phrase “In Honor of Organ Donor Davey Allison” is placed atop the red star hood logo along with the website RegisterMe.org/28, where visitors can register for organ donation.
The tribute was approved by Allison’s widow Liz, who explained she was “very honoured and proud for Davey to be remembered in this way, especially at our home track. Davey loved racing at Talladega and always loved to hear the fans cheering for him, as the hometown favorite. Having Joey bring back the #28 and Davey’s 1993 paint scheme will be special for so many of us. Davey would want the focus to be on Donor Awareness. A big part of Davey’s legacy is being a Donor Hero. We will be cheering Joey on and hoping to see that 28 and those familiar colors in Victory Lane one more time.”
Gase finished a career-best fifth at Talladega in the 2015 Xfinity race.
The Cup race will mark the first for a #28 car since Travis Kvapil ran four races in 2009 for Yates Racing in the team’s final season. The number has seen more recent usage in the Xfinity Series as the short-lived H2 Motorsports raced with it for seven races in 2019 before its demise.