First NASCAR Cup Series start? No problem!
Kaz Grala wheeled the No. 3 car of Richard Childress Racing to a seventh-place finish in the Go Bowling 235 Sunday, Aug. 16, at the Daytona International Speedway road course.
Grala was tagged to substitute for Austin Dillon after Dillon tested positive for COVID-19.
Even though 21-year-old Grala had no experience in a Cup car, that was OK, as it was everyone’s first Cup race at Daytona’s road course. After lightning delayed the race at about the halfway point, the NBC broadcast noted how Grala had held strong in the first half and didn’t make any mistakes.
Later, as the field made its green-flag pit stops, Grala stayed out and inherited the lead with about 15 to go. He stayed in front for three laps before he and Alex Bowman finally made their final pit stops.
He returned to the track in the top 15, but the caution came out with five laps to go and bunched the field up. Some other cars in front of him pitted during this caution, which allowed Grala to gain more positions. He then held strong on the restart and brought the car home clean in a respectable seventh.
“Today we were really able to drive up there into the top 10 and finish seventh, which I never would’ve even imagined,” Grala told reporters in a Zoom call after the race. “It’s crazy to even be saying, but to me, I think that proved more a point than anything has previously in my career. I enjoyed the race so much and I hope to someday get a shot again in this series.”
"This is far beyond my wildest dreams for this race." @KazGrala says he finished 23 positions above his expectations, was hoping for a top-30 finish.
— Dustin Albino (el-bee-no) (@DustinAlbino) August 16, 2020
Grala is a part-time driver in the Xfinity Series for RCR, starting two races thus far this year at Kansas Speedway and Road America, finishing fourth at the latter.