As a rookie, Grala’s learning curve has been substantial, but he pointed out several specifics that have helped his growth in his first season since advancing up from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“I think in the first 10 races of the year I learned a lot about driving Xfinity cars, the way you have to race them and how you have to manage your equipment … a lot of the big, more general points and lessons,” Grala explained. “Since we’ve become Fury Race Cars, I’ve been able to focus more on the details and learn how not to make mistakes, how to execute on pit road, how to restart properly … things like that.
“I feel like I’ve started soaking in a lot of what it takes to be an Xfinity Series driver and feel a lot more ready that hopefully, when the day arrives that I can go full time in the series, I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to execute and perform with the best.”
In the same vein, as Grala first said back in February, “there’s a whole lot of new” that he has had to adjust to. That applies both on-track and off-track, considering his mid-year change in situation.
“This has been a much different year than last year, from all aspects. Not only are the vehicles that I’m driving different, but it’s a whole different mindset that you have to have when you’re racing for points and trying to get into the playoffs compared to the situation that I’m in right now, where you’re just trying to give each run everything you have and you don’t really have anything to lose,” said Grala.
“I think that’s been valuable for me to learn though, honestly, because as a driver you need to know when you’re able to race with that mindset and when you need to race smart for points. As hard as this year has been for me personally, to have to sit out some and not be on track every week, I think it’s made me a better driver.”
IT Coalition will back Grala’s No. 61 Ford Mustang this weekend at the ROVAL. The information technology and business services company gave Grala some good news by signing as his sponsor for the weekend, but landing a ride also admittedly heightened Grala’s nerves as well.
“I can tell you this, my blood pressure is going to be pretty high all weekend, being behind the wheel as opposed to just watching it all play out,” Grala laughed. “I think it’s going to be great racing, both on the Xfinity Series side and in the Cup Series.
“This track … it’s kind of like Eldora (Speedway) with the trucks, because you’re taking something – being the car or the track – and making it do something that it’s not supposed to do,” he explained. “That’s really, in my opinion, what separates the drivers and shows who can really deal with a challenge that you’re not really ready for.
“I think experience will pay dividends, but us rookies will all be duking it out too, trying to come up with who’s going to be the best of the rest. The race is going to be wild and I can’t wait for Saturday.”
As things come full circle for both Grala and his team, the Massachusetts young gun has been quick to be appreciative of where he’s at in his career as he reflects on how far he’s already come.
“We just all joined together, it’s been really fun and we’ve done really well. The last few races that we’ve run, we haven’t been able to catch any luck, but we’ve had the speed all year,” Grala said. “That’s been really cool and exciting for us. Right now, our main focus is on getting some things put together for 2019, but that’s proven to be quite a challenge as well. We’ll see where things fall.
“It’s special though, to come back here to Charlotte and recognize that this is where it all started for us as Fury Race Cars. Hopefully we can have another really bright memory to share this weekend.”