Kaz Grala on Austin Cindric contact: ‘I’m going to race people the way they race me’ (video)

Leave a comment

Two days after his last lap run-in with Austin Cindric in the Camping World Truck Series race, Kaz Grala said going forward he’ll show Cindric the same “level of sportsmanship that he showed me” when Cindric spun him to win.

Grala, a rookie for GMS Racing, made his comments on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint.”

Cindric scored his first NASCAR win after intentionally ramming into the back of Grala’s truck in Turn 5 of the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, sending Grala spinning. The 18-year-old Grala, who won at Daytona in February, wound up finishing third.

“I think any good driver will tell you that they have a pretty good memory,” Grala said. “I’m not necessarily one to go out and flat wreck somebody like he did to me. … I honestly don’t think you should expect to see that approach from me. But I can tell you any time we’re racing around each other I’ll give him the level of sportsmanship that he showed me this weekend. I’m just going to use up all the room that I need and he’ll have to figure it out from there. Again, nothing personal at all, I’m going to race people the way they race me.”

Grala said he had been warned by his team after Cindric banged fenders with Noah Gragson to take second place.

“The 19 is being very aggressive behind you, just be prepared,” Grala said he was told.

But Grala was caught off guard by Cindric’s maneuver.

“We’ve known each other for years,” Grala said. “I honestly didn’t expect quite that. I think going forward for myself and everybody else, I think we just need to race each other the way we want to be raced. I will continue to race people with respect and kindly have a little bit of give and take because at the end of the day, if you can’t make it to the last lap of the race, you’re never going to win the race.”

Grala said the race was Cindric’s to lose, especially with the Brad Keselowski Racing driver in possession of “50 percent newer tire life” than Grala.

“I think honestly he was intimidated to try to race me down into those last couple of corners,” Grala said. “He saw that as his opportunity to not have to face me down into Turns 8, 9 and 10. He certainly dealt with me and got me out of his way, and he was able to complete that lap completely unchallenged, which I just feel bad because I feel like it denied the fans a bit of a race.”

Cindric appeared on the Motor Racing Network’s Motorsports Monday to defend his last-lap actions that delivered BKR its first win of the year and a spot for him in the playoffs. Cindric claimed he wouldn’t have made the move had he already been secured in the playoffs.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever gone into a corner and known that I was going to throttle up and hit the guy in front of me,” Cindric said. “No, I wasn’t planning on spinning him out. There was a lot of runoff there to the left I was going to move him to and try to get a good run down the straightaway, but I ended up sending him around.

“You can’t apologize for winning. I definitely don’t like how it all ended up especially with Kaz because Kaz and I have grown up racing together. Kaz and I are friends. Obviously that may change after that weekend. I know he’s not very happy, and he has all the right to be. It’s one of those things I’m going to have to move through and try to earn some respect back over time, I guess.’’

Grala said respect is something Cindric can earn back, but that it might be a hard thing to accomplish in the final eight races of the year.

“I think the 19 is going to have a difficult time going forward in the season because I think he lost the respect of some drivers out there and that’s not something he can’t gain back. He sure can,” Grala said. “It’s just for an immediate effect this season, I’m just not sure it was necessarily the right move for him and his team going forward.”

and on Facebook

Cup starting lineup at Martinsville Speedway

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Martin Truex Jr. will start on the pole for Sunday’s Cup race at Martinsville Speedway after qualifying was canceled by rain and snow Saturday.

“It’s definitely a big advantage to start out front,” Truex said. “First pit box obviously, everyone knows it’s a big deal here and that’s where you want to be so you get that clean stall in and out and not get torn up on pit road.”

The lineup was set by car owner points.

Kyle Busch will join Truex on the front row.

Row 2 will feature Team Penske’s Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. Teammate Ryan Blaney starts fifth.

Click here for starting lineup

Martinsville Truck race postponed to Sunday after Cup race

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Alpha Energy Solutions 250 Truck race at Martinsville has been postponed until Sunday afternoon, following the Cup race.

Ben Rhodes led the field to green 2:05 p.m. and held the lead until Mike Senica stalled on the track. Rhodes led the first 23 laps until precipitation red flagged the event at 2:17.

The Truck race will be televised on FS1.

Martin Truex Jr. sweeps Martinsville Cup practice

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After posting the fastest single lap and quickest 10-lap average in the first practice, Martin Truex. Jr. also topped the fastest lap chart in final practice for the STP 500 with a speed of 95.415 mph.

Also repeating his performance from the first practice, Brad Keselowski was second on the leaderboard. Keselowski was fast on long runs with the quickest 10-lap average of 94.579 mph.

Sophomore Daniel Suarez was notably fast. His lap of 95.588 mph was third on the chart.

Kyle Busch (95.122) and Ryan Newman (94.756) rounded out the top five.

Jimmie Johnson (93.831) was hoping to carry over momentum from last week’s top 1o at Auto Club, but struggled to find single lap speed. He landed 28th on the speed chart.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wheel hopped entering turn three with 33 minutes remaining. He rolled out a backup car and will start at the back regardless of where he qualifies.

Click here for the full final practice times.

History looms for the Wood Brothers

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Glen Wood first came to Martinsville, Virgina in November 1953, making the short 30-minute drive from Stuart for his NASCAR debut in a family owned car. Nearly 65 years later, the famed Woods Brothers are still racing the iconic No. 21 on the half-mile bullring.

The torch has since been passed to Glen’s sons, but the history remains.

“Our dad came here and raced,” Eddie Wood said in a press release before the STP 500. “He raced here in the fifties and it’s just a special, special place and knowing that the Ford Fusions ran really well last year here that gives you a lot of confidence. I’m sure it gives Paul (Menard) a lot of confidence, but it’s just a special, special place.”

Last fall, Ryan Blaney returned the 21 to the top 10 on the team’s home track for the first time in 12 years. He finished eighth in the First Data 400. This year, Blaney turned the car over to Menard and as the series comes to Martinsville for the first of two races this year, the legacy continues.

“The pressure is all what you make of it,” Menard said. “I know a couple things – I’ve got a great team behind me. We’re gonna have a fast Ford and we’re gonna have a lot of fans cheering on the 21 car, so you can think about that every waking second you’re up here, or you can go to work and do your business. It’s obviously an honor to drive this car and to be a part of the Wood family driving the 21 at Martinsville, and I’m really gonna think about that when I put my firesuit on, but once you get the helmet on it’s all business.”

The gravity of protecting the Wood Brothers’ legend at Martinsville is increased by the fact that this week marks NASCAR’s first short track race of the season and a return to its grassroots. It is easy to feel the history of racing on this little track nestled in rural Virginia—not only for the iconic team, but the entire field.

“It’s getting back to grassroots,” Menard said. “Over half the guys, probably more than that, started racing at short tracks with late models somewhere. We were running 25 laps back then versus 500 now, but the stage racing is kind of like a couple of heat races before the A Main, so you try to get your points when you can and be smart about things when you can and let it rip when you can.”

“You can race here year after year, race after race and there’s no way anybody can mess this race up,” Eddie Wood said. “This is just always a great race because it’s tight and it’s grassroots, it’s NASCAR roots.”

The STP 500 is not just another race for the Wood Brothers. On a track that puts a premium on mechanical grip and driver ability, as opposed to flat out horsepower, Menard has greater control over his fate. That is both good and bad news, because a milestone has been within reach for the past 27 races –  the team’s 100th win.

“It would be huge,” Menard said of the 100th win. “I’ll take it anywhere. We started at Daytona and didn’t get it there, and we’ll keep working until we get it. Martinsville would be a huge one for us, obviously, and if we do that, we’ll have another one for the museum down the road.”