CONCORD, N.C. – Though he may not know quite what to expect when it comes to Charlotte Motor Speedway’s new ROVAL course, Kaz Grala certainly knows the importance of this weekend’s Drive for the Cure 200.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series rookie is returning to the site of the very first race he ran for Fury Race Cars, the team co-owned by his father Darius, this weekend and hopes to replicate or exceed the level of performance that he and his team showed at Charlotte in May, when they drove to a top-10 finish.
It was a stellar effort for the debuting organization, but this time, Grala knows the stakes are higher.
Saturday afternoon’s race is a playoff event, and while Grala isn’t one of the drivers contending for the Xfinity Series title, he recognizes that the postseason alone ramps the on-track drama up more than usual, let alone the fact that no one in the series has been on the 17-turn, 2.28-mile before the weekend.
When you add all of that to the fact that this weekend is the last confirmed race Grala has on his schedule for the year as of now, the Massachusetts native is determined to leave his mark on the track.
“I’m not really sure what to expect at the ROVAL; I don’t think any of us know what to expect,” said Grala. “It’s not too often that you see a bunch of Cup Series drivers tear their cars up, especially in a test, like they did earlier this year. I think seeing that has us all on edge a little, but the great part is that we’re all on an even playing field. The rookies and the veterans this week will be learning together, so it’s really anyone’s game.
“What I do know is that this is a very important weekend for us and we want to take advantage of the opportunity we have to race again this season,” Grala added. “From what I’ve heard, minimizing mistakes on the track and in the pits will be key. We have to make it to the end with the car in one piece if we want a shot at it, and that’s been one of our strengths so far this year. I’m excited to be in the first ROVAL race ever, and I’m very optimistic about our chances of contending.”
Grala began the year driving for James Whitener’s JGL Racing team, with plans of running the full schedule, but those plans took a sharp turn when health issues for Whitener forced the shuttering of his organization.
That led Grala home to Fury Race Cars, where with the help of his father and both Tony Eury Jr. and Tony Eury Sr., an Xfinity team rose in a matter of days. Saturday will mark Fury’s 10th Xfinity Series start.
“It’s been a really crazy year for me, both up and down,” noted Grala. “After starting the year out thinking I was going to be full time in the Xfinity Series and then having to shift gears to part time when the team at JGL Racing shut down and moving over to Fury Race Cars … it’s been an adventure, for sure. Honestly though, with my dad’s involvement in the team and all the people there that I’ve known for so long, it’s really been like a family operation.
“As a driver, you wish that things like what we’ve had to deal with this season wouldn’t have to happen, but I feel like we’ve made the best of the cards we were handed and we’ve had a lot of fun as well.”