By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – For the second day in a row at the World Center of Racing, one of the smaller teams in the NASCAR garage was celebrating a top-five finish when the checkered flag flew.
Kaz Grala, who pilots the No. 24 Ford for JGL Racing, provided the cause for celebration, surviving Saturday’s PowerShares QQQ 300 at Daytona to bring his team a fourth-place finish. The top-five marks the second straight race at Daytona that JGL entries scored top-five finishes after Dakoda Armstrong and Jeb Burton finished third and fourth, respectively, last July.
Saturday’s finish is not the first time that Grala has had success at Daytona as he won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the track last year.
“I’ve got to say the win last year in the truck was obviously really cool and a lot of fun, but this might be the most satisfying race I’ve ever been a part of because I’m not going to lie, we didn’t have the speed we were hoping for,” said Grala. “We only qualified 29th. But we were able to play our strategy well in the race…This plate racing, there’s a little luck involved for sure, but I really think you can strategically position your car to be safe, and we were able to be on the right end of that today and be in contention at the end.
“That was a lot of fun. I can’t thank the team owner James Whitener of JGL enough for giving me the opportunity to drive this car, and of course Roush Fenway Racing and Ford Performance for supporting it for me. It’s going to be a fun 33 races this year.”
For a small team like JGL, kicking off the season with a top-five is huge and can go a long way in helping propel them down the road for the remainder of the year.
“It’s huge for morale, of course. It’s huge for points, as well. You can come out of Daytona in a pretty bleak position in points, so it’s great to be able to be in this position rather than on the other end of it. Going into the season, of course JGL is a fairly new organization. It’s not necessarily a Cup affiliate – we’re affiliated with Roush Fenway, but we’re competing against real other Cup teams, so I consider us to be a bit of an underdog. So, going into the season if you had said are you going to get a top-five, I would say, we’re going to try, but I definitely wouldn’t have told you that it’s a definite.
“So, to be in contention to get that top-five and come away with it, I think this is really going to set the tone for our whole season. It’s huge for us as an organization.”