The 2017 season started off with a bang for the No. 33 GMS Racing driver Kaz Grala. The season opener saw him starting on the pole and winning the race after a last-lap crash on the backstretch. Since that Daytona finish, however, he was inconsistent with his finishes. Atlanta and Martinsville saw him finishing 15th, while Grala would finish eighth at Kansas scoring his second top 10 finish of the season. A week later at Charlotte, he was involved in a crash on lap 70 which relegated him to a 30th place finish.
In the coming weeks at Dover, Fort Worth and Gateway, Grala finished second, 10th and 13th, respectively. The next time he finished inside the top-15 was at Michigan placing 12th. He had four DNF’s at Iowa, Kentucky, Eldora and Pocono. Bristol saw Grala finish 28th due to engine problems. Needless to say, the summer month stretch was a long one for the 19-year-old.
With the Daytona win, he was already locked into the playoffs. Starting with Canada, Grala finished third and continued the consistent finishes in the top 10 until the elimination race at Talladega. It was a busy one for the GMS Racing driver as his team ended up changing an engine before the race. The race did not get that much better for Grala as on Lap 18, he was collected in a wreck which saw him being eliminated from the playoffs.
“My No. 33 team, everyone at GMS Racing and at Hendrick Engines worked really hard to change that motor to get us out in time for the race,” Grala said. “From what I could tell, it still felt like we were the fastest Chevy out there. Starting in the back, I made a lot of good moves to be in a position to get stage points at the end of the first stage. I’m not quite sure what happened but everyone checked up. I slowed down and thought I was going to miss it, but the truck behind me didn’t get slowed down fast enough and turned us up into the wall ending our day. That put an end to our championship hopes, unfortunately, which is really a shame because I think this No. 33 team had really come alive in the later part of this season and I think we would have been a contender. We did our part in what we could control and I’m just super proud of my guys.”
Since that unfortunate situation at Talladega, he had finishes of seventh, sixth, fifth and 13th at Martinsville, Fort Worth, Phoenix and Homestead, respectively.
“The No.33 team fought hard tonight,” he said. “The track was much more loose than originally anticipated and it was just hard to ever get comfortable with the lack of grip on the track. My STEALTH Chevy was fast at the end of a long run, but at that point, track position was hard to get back. I can’t thank my guys enough for all their work, not only tonight but the entire season.”
Grala ended the season with one win, five top fives and eleven top 10 finishes, with an average start of 10.2 and an average finish of 14.0, with seven DNF’s and 33 laps led. For 2018, he will be the driver of the No. 24 Ford of JGL Racing.
Grala can be found on social media on his Twitter page @KazGrala and Instagram @KazGrala.