By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Mother Nature, pit road penalties, and contact were just some of the factors in a wild race for Kaz Grala, as the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver piloted his way to a 12th place finish at Michigan.
With weather threatening the end of the LTi Printing 250, Grala charged forward in his No. 61 NETTTS Ford Mustang. He took the lead to begin the final stage of the race, holding off charges from Elliott Sadler, Daniel Hemric, as well as Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Austin Dillon and Kyle Busch. The caution waved almost immediately for an accident mid-pack.
On the ensuing restart, Grala defended well, but was loosened up by Dillon. It sent his Fury Race Cars LLC machine up the track. Dillon went on to win the rain-shortened race as the remainder of the race was caution-filled. Grala slid back and was relegated to a finish in 12th, far from what his car seemed capable of.
“I wish this rain would have come a little sooner,” Grala said. “It was a really great race though. My NETTTS Mustang was really good all day with a lot of speed and handled perfectly. We came from the back twice and somehow managed to get stage points in both stages. I don’t know how we did that. That was fun. I like this aero package for this specific track a lot. I wish the rain had come a little earlier or if I had gone into turn one with my rear wheels on the ground. Either way I think the outcome could have been different.”
Grala’s wild day started hours before the race even began. With his Tony Eury, Jr. co-owned team being just two weeks old, Owner’s Points forced the Boston, MA native to start last. Grala made it into the top-10 by the end of Stage 1 only for an uncontrolled tire penalty to send him to the back once again. He drove into the top-five in under 30 laps using the restricted aero package to his advantage.
The 12th-place finish keeps Grala 17th in the Championship Points Standings. He is 257-points behind Elliott Sadler, the Championship Points Leader, and 35-points behind Ross Chastain, who holds the cutoff for the Playoffs.
The race marked the third of four scheduled races with Fury Race Cars LLC team, Grala needs sponsorship to continue after next weekend’s race at Iowa Speedway.