Kicking off his relationship with Fury Race Cars with a top 10 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, the possibilities were looking high for Kaz Grala in the XFINITY Series in 2018.
Scoring four straight top-20 finishes and a top five at Daytona two weeks later, Grala was looking to cap off the season on a high note Saturday night (Nov. 17) at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
However, that’s not what happened, as the No. 61 Ford team were far off their projected pace once the 200-lapper took the green flag
“We’re scratching our heads because we were really good in practice. We were pumped up about it,” Grala told Frontstretch. “We didn’t expect to qualify well because our car was definitely a long-run car.
“They dropped the green and we weren’t a long-run or short-run car, we were just… out to lunch. I’m not really sure what we needed to do differently but we’re definitely going to look at the car and see what went wrong.”
Finishing 10th and 15th in the two series practices at Homestead, the race saw Grala struggle to run top 20, falling off the lead lap before jumping to 18th at the checkered flag.
With a couple off-months to come, Grala knows there is plenty of time to straighten loose ends.
“The good news is we have a whole offseason to try and figure that out,” he said. “It’s not like we’ve been winning races so we knew we had to work on our program. It just makes us that much more motivated and hungry to work on it.”
Unfortunately for the 19-year-old, 2019 is full of uncertainty, as sponsorship struggles will follow the Massachusetts native into the winter. Grala hopes he comes up the other end with a sponsor and a ride.
“It’s so far from concrete that we don’t have anything, actually,” he said. “We have a little bit of sponsorship for next year which is awesome. But it’s not enough to get us through the whole season. Right now, everything is up in the air.”
Entering the mysterious offseason with an open mind, Grala is not putting a cap on any opportunities that may come to light.
“I’ll go where the opportunity is,” he said. “Right now, there are not too any team owners in NASCAR putting drivers in without the full sponsorship behind them.
“Hopefully, we’ll be racing next season. We’re looking for sponsorship, so long we are still racing, I’m sure we will continue to get better.”
About the author
Growing up in Easton, Pa., Zach Catanzareti has grown his auto racing interest from fandom to professional. Joining Frontstretch in 2015, Zach enjoys nothing more than being at the track, having covered his first half-season of 18 races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017. With experience behind the wheel, behind the camera and in the media center, he thrives on being an all-around reporter.
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