Austin Dillon has tested positive for the coronavirus and will be replaced by Kaz Grala in Sunday’s Cup race at the Daytona International Speedway road course. Richard Childress Racing announced the driver change Saturday morning.
The team stated that Dillon’s wife, Whitney and 2-month-old son Ace remain healthy and symptom-free. Grala stated in a video that Dillon’s symptoms have been mild.
Dillon becomes the second Cup driver to miss a race because of a positive COVID-19 test. Jimmie Johnson sat out the Indianapolis race in July after a positive test. Brendan Gaughan, who is running a limited Cup schedule, tested positive in July but did not miss any scheduled races. He’s competing in Sunday’s Cup race (3 p.m. ET on NBC).
NASCAR will grant Dillon, who has a win this season, a playoff waiver upon the team making an official request. That will allow him to remain eligible for the playoffs.
Dillon will need to have two negative test results taken at least 24 hours apart and submit documentation from his doctor to NASCAR to return. NASCAR updated its COVID-19 guidelines earlier this week should any member not produce two negative tests over a 10-day period.
This will be Grala’s Cup debut. Grala will start at the rear because of the driver change. The car was to have started 10th with Dillon.
Grala has made two starts in the Xfinity Series this season, including last weekend’s race at Road America, finishing fourth. The 21-year-old Grala has 29 career Xfinity starts. His best finish in the series is fourth at Road America last week and Daytona in 2018.
I wish @AustinDillon3 a speedy recovery while I keep his seat warm this weekend in the No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet. I hope to make everyone @RCRracing proud during these unfortunate circumstances. pic.twitter.com/a9QNKDBege
— Kaz Grala (@KazGrala) August 15, 2020