Kaz Grala to make 100th NASCAR national touring series career start at Daytona

The 2023 NASCAR season is set to mark a new beginning for Kaz Grala, who will be competing as a full-time Xfinity Series competitor for the first time in his career with Sam Hunt Racing. This season will also mark his eighth season with at least one start across NASCAR’s top three national touring series, in which he is primed to achieve a milestone start. By competing in this weekend’s Xfinity Series season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway, Grala will achieve 100 national touring series career starts.

A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Grala, whose racing career started with go-karts at X1 Boston at the age of four before moving up to Bandoleers, legends cars and stock cars, made his inaugural presence within NASCAR’s top three national touring series at Martinsville Speedway in April 2016, where he campaigned on a part-time basis in the Truck Series for GMS Racing. By then, he was coming off two full-time seasons in the ARCA Menards Series East, where he finished in seventh place in the standings during both seasons. During his Truck debut at Martinsville, Grala started 19th and finished 31st after being involved in an early single-truck incident. He proceeded to make eight additional Truck starts between GMS Racing’s Nos. 24 and 33 entries, where he recorded a total of three top-10 results and a season-best result of seventh place at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September. His final start of the season occurred at Phoenix Raceway in November, where he started 11th and finished 28th after being involved in a late incident.

The 2017 season produced Grala’s first and only full-time campaign to date within NASCAR’s top three national touring series as he was assigned to a full-time driving role of the No. 33 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado in the Truck circuit. He commenced the season on a high note by becoming the youngest competitor to win a pole position and a race at Daytona International Speedway in February at age 18 years, one month and 26 days. The victory occurred after Grala dodged a final lap multi-truck wreck to claim his first NASCAR Truck career victory and claim a guaranteed spot to the 2017 Playoffs. He went on to claim five additional top-10 results throughout the 16-race regular-season stretch, including a runner-up result at Dover Motor Speedway in June and a third-place result at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in September despite getting bumped and spun out of the way for the lead by Austin Cindric on the final lap. At the start of the Playoffs, however, Grala was eliminated from title contention following respective finishes of 10th, fifth and 29th during the Round of 8. Nonetheless, he went on to finish in the top 10 in three of the final four scheduled events before finishing in seventh place in the final drivers’ standings.

Coming off a strong Truck Series campaign, Grala graduated to the Xfinity Series for the 2018 season as he started the season as the driver of the No. 24 JGL Racing Ford Mustang. Despite commencing the season with a fourth-place run at Daytona in February, the Boston native was left without a ride after JGL ceased his entry following the first 10-scheduled events. A few days later, however, Grala managed to secure a part-time Xfinity ride in the No. 61 Ford Mustang for FURY Race Cars, beginning at a Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. Making a total of 12 starts with FURY for the remaining 23-scheduled events, he finished in the top 10 four times, which included a strong fifth-place result at Daytona in July.

In 2019, Grala made only five national touring series starts, all occurring in the Xfinity Series behind the wheel of the No. 21 Chevrolet Camaro for Richard Childress Racing. His first start with RCR occurred at Texas Motor Speedway in March, where he finished 18th. He went on to finish 14th during his next three scheduled starts at Richmond Raceway in April, Dover in May and at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July. He then capped off his five-race run with RCR by finishing fifth at Road America in August.

The 2020 season witnessed Grala competing in a total of seven national touring series events: one in the Cup Series, five in the Xfinity Series and one in the Truck Series. His first start of the season occurred in the Xfinity circuit at Kansas Speedway in July, where he returned for a second part-time stint with RCR and finished 13th. He went on to post his best result of the season at Road America in August, where he finished fourth, followed by back-to-back ninth-place results during a Richmond Raceway doubleheader feature in September. His final Xfinity start of the season occurred at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course in October, where he ended up in 31st place due to a suspension issue despite winning the first stage. In August, Grala served as an interim competitor for Austin Dillon in RCR’s No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE entry in the Cup Series at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course in August. The news of Grala substituting for Dillon came after Dillon tested positive for COVID-19 leading up to the event as Grala made his first career start in NASCAR’s premier series. During the event, the Boston native recorded a strong seventh-place result. For the Truck Series, he made his lone start at Talladega in October, where he piloted the No. 44 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado to a ninth-place result.

For the 2021 season, Grala competed in a total of three Cup events, two Xfinity events and three Truck events. In the Cup circuit, he competed on a part-time basis for Kaulig Racing that commenced by making his Daytona 500 debut after earning a transfer spot for the main event based on his qualifying speed. During the 500, he led 10 laps before falling back to 28th place in the final running order due to being involved in a late incident. He then went on to post a strong sixth-place finish at Talladega in April and a 35th-place result at Daytona in August after being involved in a late multi-car wreck. In the Xfinity circuit, Grala made a total of two starts for Jordan Anderson Racing, where he finished 18th at Road America and 15th at Texas Motor Speedway, respectively. In the Truck circuit, he made a total of three starts for Young’s Motorsports, all of which occurred on road course venues, as he finished in the top 12 during all his starts. The highlight of his three-race Truck effort occurred during the inaugural event at Circuit of the Americas in May, where he finished second after overtaking Tyler Ankrum in the closing laps.

This past season, which marked his third consecutive season of making select starts across NASCAR’s top three national touring series, Grala made three starts in the Cup Series, nine in the Xfinity Series and 12 in the Truck Series. His best result in the Truck circuit was a seventh-place result in the series’ inaugural event at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in July, with all of his scheduled starts occurring with Young’s Motorsports. In the Xfinity circuit, he competed between Alpha Prime Racing, Big Machine Racing, Jesse Iwuji Motorsports and Sam Hunt Racing, with his best result being fifth at Watkins Glen International in August. In the Cup circuit, Grala teamed up with the newly formed Money Team Racing and embarked on a part-time campaign that commenced in the 64th running of the Daytona 500 in February. After earning a transfer spot for the main event through the first Bluegreen Vacations Duel, he ended up in 26th place in the 500 despite losing his right-front tire on Lap 40. His other two Cup starts were at Circuit of the Americas in March and in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, where he finished 25th and a season-best 23rd, respectively.

A month after the 2022 NASCAR season concluded, Grala was announced as a full-time competitor of the No. 26 Toyota Supra for Sam Hunt Racing, which he competed for and finished 23rd at Phoenix in November, for the 2023 season as he will contend for the series’ championship for the first time in his career.

Through 99 previous starts across NASCAR’s top three national touring series, Grala has achieved one victory, one pole, 11 top-five results, 30 top-10 results and 75 laps led while competing for 12 different organizations.

Grala is scheduled to make his 100th NASCAR national touring series career start in the Xfinity Series season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, February 18. The event’s coverage is slated to occur at 5 p.m. ET on FS1.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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