NASCAR America: Kaz Grala has one more chance to impress at Iowa Speedway

Leave a comment

An accident on lap 76 of 200 at Dover International Speedway ended a 10-race stint with JGL Racing. And that might have been an inauspicious end to Kaz Grala’s Xfinity series campaign in 2018; he finished 37th in that race.

When the opportunity arose to run a four-race schedule with Fury Race Cars, Grala had nothing to lose – so he jumped at the opportunity. Three of those four events are in the books, leaving Iowa Speedway as the last scheduled event.

“Each week, we’ve been getting better as a team. We’ve been getting more organized, picking up speed, faster race cars, and that’s what we need to do,” Grala told NASCAR America on Thursday.

Grala earned a top 10 in his first attempt with the new team at Charlotte Motor Speedway and has not finished worse than 16th in three races.

“About five weeks ago, all the shop did was manufacture late models, modifieds, and road course cars … so they were not technically a race team; they were a car manufacturer.”

Given the circumstances of their formation, no one would have been surprised if the new race team was not successful, but the leadership of Tony Eury Jr. and Grala’s crew chief from earlier in the season Shane Wilson brought a level of experience that immediately elevated their performance.

“As drivers, we usually race with the thought in the back of our head that we can’t screw this up. We’ve got to do everything right. But it’s a different mentality you can approach it with when you have this situation. You can say, ‘well, we don’t have any expectations on us. We don’t know how we’re going to run so we can just go into this saying whatever we accomplish is going to be icing on the cake.'”

With additional sponsorship, Grala hopes to be able to continue to help Fury Race Cars improve.

For more, watch the video above.

Daniel Hemric fastest in final practice; Kevin Harvick second

Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Daniel Hemric turned the fastest lap Friday in the final Cup practice at Kansas Speedway, turning a 177.830 mph lap in his No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.

Kevin Harvick was second followed by Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski (who paced the first practice) and Ryan Blaney.

Hemric has yet to announce a ride for 2020 after RCR announced last month that the rookie would be replaced by Tyler Reddick next season.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Suarez and Aric Almirola rounded out the top 10.

Here are the rankings speeds of the other playoff drivers: Denny Hamlin 12th; Alex Bowman 15th; Joey Logano 16th; Clint Bowyer 19th; Chase Elliott 20th; and William Byron 22nd.

Click here to see where things stand in the playoffs standings entering Sunday’s second-round cutoff race at Kansas.

Click here for speeds from the final practice at Kansas.

Click here for the speeds during the first Cup practice of the weekend at Kansas.

Ryan Preece praises team for its work after hauler fire

Leave a comment

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Ryan Preece praised his team for converting teammate Chris Buescher’s backup car into Preece’s primary car Friday after the hauler carrying Preece’s cars and equipment caught fire this week en route to Kansas Speedway.

“I know some of the guys haven’t had much sleep, very proud of them,” Preece said.

The team’s hauler pulled over near New Columbia, Illinois, on Thursday after a fire in the rear axle area that spread to the hauler. A team spokesperson told NBC Sports that crew chief Eddie Pardue and a couple of team members flew there to take what could be salvaged before driving to Kansas City.

The team spokesperson said that the lockers and uniforms in the hauler were heavily damaged. Both cars had damage with the backup car suffering smoke damage.

NASCAR allowed JTG Daugherty Racing to enter the garage at 8 a.m. ET Friday — five hours before the garage was scheduled to open — and allowed members from both JTG Daugherty teams to work on the car. Preece said he was there with the team when it arrived and worked on the interior as the crew converted the car.

“We’re in it as a team,” Preece said. “I wasn’t going to show up later in the afternoon. I wanted them to know that I was right there with them. I wanted to help in every way I could.”

Preece said his car was loose in the first practice session Friday at Kansas Speedway. He was 32nd on the speed chart in that session, making it on track about 10 minutes after practice began.

Brad Keselowski fastest in first practice at Kansas; Kyle Busch makes big save

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Leave a comment

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Brad Keselowski turned the fastest lap with a minute remaining in Friday afternoon’s first Cup practice at Kansas Speedway.

The 176.499-mph lap by the No. 2 Ford of Team Penske nipped a 176.389 mph lap by the No. 10 Ford of Aric Almirola.

Daniel Suarez was third, followed by Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney. Kurt Busch, Paul Menard, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick and Daniel Hemric rounded out the top 10.

Here’s how other playoff drivers fared during the practice:

Kyle Larson 11th; Joey Logano 13th; Clint Bowyer 15th; William Byron 20th; Alex Bowman 21st; Kyle Busch (who had an impressive save; video below) 22nd; Chase Elliott 23rd.

Click here to see where things stand in the playoffs standings entering Sunday’s second-round cutoff race at Kansas.

Click here for the speeds during the first Cup practice of the weekend at Kansas.

Gray Gaulding out Friday after suspected allergic reaction

Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Leave a comment

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Stewart-Haas Racing plane made an unscheduled stop in St. Louis on Friday after Gray Gaulding had a suspected allergic reaction.

SS Green Light Racing confirmed Gaulding had an issue en route to Kansas City. A Stewart-Haas Racing spokesperson confirmed that its plane made the unscheduled stop, and that emergency personnel came on board after the plane landed. Gaulding remained in St. Louis while the plane continued to Kansas City.

SS Green Light Racing stated that after arriving at the track, Gaulding went to the infield care center and was not cleared to drive Friday. Gaulding will be re-evaluated Saturday. J.J. Yeley drove the car for Gaulding in practice Friday.