Kaz Grala will make his 2019 Xfinity Series debut Saturday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway. Piloting the No. 21 Hot Scream Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, the 20-year-old is running a part-time schedule that stemmed from the quick success FURY Race Cars saw last season.
Even though he hasn’t been on track yet this season, Grala isn’t entering the weekend “cold” as he put it.
“I can probably guarantee you nobody’s turned as many laps on a simulator as I have at Texas this year,” he explained Friday before hitting the track for the first time. “I’ve talked to Daniel Hemric, who raced the (No.) 21 last year, of course, and now is in Cup with RCR. I’ve picked Reddick’s brain a little bit as well. He was really good here last year. He wasn’t with RCR yet but he did really well here too.
“Then my pseudo-teammate Justin Haley still sits on the track record here in the Truck Series and won the playoff race here last year, so I’ve got more than enough people around me at the organization to ask for advice when it comes to Texas Motor Speedway.
“This is a race I did last year while I was still with JGL so I’ve got my own notes,” he continued. “I’ve just all around tried to get as much information as I can and tried to overload my brain with info going into the first practice session this weekend.
“I might be a little rusty in practice but by the time the race comes around, I’ll be in good shape.”
Grala’s concerns about being rusty translated into a third-place run in the first session and an eighth-place run in final practice.
— Kaz Grala (@KazGrala) March 30, 2019
Fast forward to an abbreviated qualifying session Saturday morning and Grala put himself seventh in the first round before qualifying 12th for the race.
“I never really knew what [it is about Texas that suits me], but I love this track,” he explained. “I’ve had good runs here; I even had a 10th here in a heavily wounded truck.
“This track is so technical. You have to hit the bottom every lap and be consistent. You miss it and there’s going to be four guys behind you to take advantage of that. I think that’s one strong suit of mine – consistency and being able to put the car where I need to put it.”
As for his expectations heading into the My Bariatric Solutions 300?
“Realistically, it’s a stacked field this weekend,” Grala said. “We’ve got a couple Cup drivers, a couple part-time cars that don’t normally enter. It’s not going to be easy. I’d say our baseline goal is to get a top 10 and I’d say our reach goal would be a top five. As our first race together, a top five, I think, is a lofty goal but an achievable one.