Back to News

September 28, 2017

Cale Gale topped the best in 2012, now he’s just looking for a full-time ride

CONCORD, N.C. – It was the final lap of the final race of the season when Cale Gale pinched Kyle Busch into the wall and won the Ford EcoBoost 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series finale at Homestead Miami Speedway.

Sparks were flying and the two trucks were locked together as they sped across the start/finish line.

That memorable season-ending finish occurred five years ago, in 2012. It was a race, Gale said, “that’s defined me and my career.”

“Yeah it was Kyle Busch; we all know how good of a driver Kyle Busch is,” Gale told from the Roush Fenway Racing shop. “I think in my situation that particular night … anybody would have done it.

“It was a situation for me where I’d never had a chance to capitalize on a victory like that. I didn’t know what my career would be like after that – I didn’t have a ride in store for the next year. It could have been my last opportunity ever. So I did what any racer would do. It came down to the last lap of the last race of the season and I took advantage of that.”

It was a victory that could have vaulted the 27-year-old Gale into a more prominent role in NASCAR.

Kyle Busch Cale Gale
Kyle Busch and Cale Gale race side-by-side in 2012. Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

But it did not.

Next month, Gale, now 32, will return to the Camping World Truck Series for the first time since 2013 for a one-race opportunity with MDM Motorsports. He is scheduled to drive the organization’s No. 99 Chevrolet in the Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway.

Gale admitted he was “blown away” when he got the call from MDM officials.

“It’s like another dream come true,” he said. “There’s been many a day where — I haven’t completely given up on my dream because I feel like in my heart I’ve sacrificed a lot to be able to race on Sundays, to at least get that opportunity.

“But things happen; things change. I still love racing. I still short-track race when I can; I’m passionate about it. I love coming to work every day, learning about race cars and about suspensions and just being a part of the technology every day that changes. It intrigues me.

“But my happy place is still when I put my helmet on.”

Today, Gale, a native of Mobile, Alabama, works in the engineering department at Roush Fenway Racing. In 2016, he was employed as a shock specialist for RFR’s No. 6 team in the XFINITY Series with driver Darrell Wallace Jr. He began the ’17 season as a shock specialist for Wallace and teammate Ryan Reed.

Near midseason, Gale moved into the engineering department where he began working with the team’s 8-post rig and various simulation programs.

He still races on occasion, he said, but not at the national level. Bowman Gray, Hickory and other somewhat local venues provide the occasional opportunity to slide back behind the wheel.

Gale scored his lone NASCAR victory with Eddie Sharp Racing. The following season he ran just three Truck Series races with Turner Scott Motorsports and posted top-10 finishes at Phoenix and Homestead. But the 2013 Homestead race was his final start in any one of NASCAR’s top series.

Cale Gale
Cale Gale edges Kyle Busch at the Homestead-Miami start/finish line in 2012.
Todd Warshaw | Getty Images

So what happened? Why did the 2012 season’s final race winner quietly fade away?

“I think the landscape of motorsports has changed over the years,” said Gale, who made his first XFINITY Series start for former car owner James Finch in 2006. “(Finch) was willing to take a chance on me; Kevin and DeLana (Harvick) did the same thing.

“I think if you go back 10 years, the sponsors were there and the teams hired the drivers,” Gale continued. “Over time, I think that the drivers and sponsors were more so together than the teams.

“I feel like as a race car driver there was a time that I was good — I was really good. But I never got the … I won’t say that I didn’t get the opportunity. But to race with the Cup guys you have to do it every week. My opportunity with (KHI) racing on a part-time basis made me so much better as a race car driver.”

Seat time, he said, helped lessen the number of mistakes drivers make while still learning the ropes. His short-track background also taught him about tire management, the importance of avoiding problems and being around for the finish in what were typically 100-lap features.

That approach has also changed.

“Your typical NASCAR races (today) are 40- or 50-lap stints and come in and get four tires,” Gale said. “It’s a different mentality; that’s why I feel like your guys from dirt racing, they tend to rise up a little bit … these guys can drive race cars on the edge.”

MDM is fielding entries in the Camping World Truck Series and ARCA Series in 2017. Eight drivers have made at least one start with the No. 99 Camping World team; Darrell Wallace posted the group’s first Truck Series win at Michigan Speedway.

Can he win? Gale isn’t ready to make such a bold prediction. He’s excited about the opportunity to compete “with that level of competition in that kind of equipment,” he said.

“And really at the end of the day see where I stack up after four years of being out of the seat.”