Gaulding focused on first Daytona 500 with BK Racing

Caleb Whisler/Kickin' The Tires

By Caleb Whisler, Staff Writer

Gray Gaulding, driver of the No. 23 BK Racing Toyota, has not had an ideal first experience for Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway.

The saga at BK Racing began early last week when the entry list stated that the driver of the No. 23 was to be announced. On Feb. 9, the No. 23 hauler arrived at Daytona. Gaulding and his father were roaming the garage telling reporters that they were at the track as “spectators.” The 20-year-old received a phone call on Friday evening from Ron Devine, team owner, about running the Daytona 500.

“When we were here on Friday, we didn’t know if we were going to run the race. We hadn’t planned on it early in the year,” Gaulding stated. “This business is tough. Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t. I was just the lucky guy to get that call Friday night. To get that call to be in the Daytona 500 is the biggest call of my whole life. This is the race that I looked forward too, watched and wanted to be in my whole career.

With both practice sessions before Daytona 500 qualifying and the Can-Am Duels being on Saturday, Gaulding and the No. 23 team only made one lap in the final practice session. In qualifying on Sunday, the No. 23 did not attempt a lap.

Although legal matters off the track are overshadowing his first Daytona 500, the 20-year old driver is focused on driving the race car in what he considers the biggest weeks of his life.

“No, not at all. When Ron called me, my job is a driver. To be quite honest, I don’t know any background on what’s going on. I know something is going down in court. I hope all things positive. I have to keep a positive attitude.

“My role and what I am hired to do is to come drive. We will see. The plan is that we will be racing in the Duels and trying to get us a good starting spot for the 500. I have to focus on what I am doing. I have been watching film; been doing all the right things to prepare for this race. Whatever happens, happens. It’s all good.”

With Gaulding having very limited time on-track, some frustration has occurred. Throughout his career, the 20-year-old has faced adversity. While looking forward and having a positive attitude, Gaulding sees this as just another bump in the road.

“It is a little frustrating. Things happen. BK Racing and myself it is not that big of a deal. I have fought a lot of adversity in my entire career. It is just another bump in the road. You have to keep pushing no matter what is thrown in your way. I have had many curveballs thrown my way in my career and I have to keep my head forward and be positive.

“I have to go out and do my role. The team did their role. The car was ready. We had a motor issue, but I think we have that behind us now. It stinks a little bit because I do want to get out there and draft and learn and get more prepared than having to watch a little bit of video.”

Just like Gaulding, Devine is fired up about the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Driver and owner have had each other’s back through the situation.

“Ron, he is ecstatic. If you know Ron, he is wide open all the time. Hearing his voice and hearing him wanting to put me in the car and knowing he believes in me to go out there in his race car in the biggest race in the world is kinda shows how much he has my back. For that, I have his back too. He is a good guy.

“I know BK Racing has been through some heartaches the last few months, but in the end, we are a team. We are going to stick together and have each other’s back. We are not going to let anybody bring us down. Ron has a very good attitude and is excited to get back into racing. The guy loves to race, and I love racing for a guy like that.”

Gaulding plans on running the full-time with Devine and BK Racing in 2018.

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