Kaz Grala will return to compete for Richard Childress Racing in the Xfinity Series this year in select races, the team announced Friday.
Grala, 21, will be one of three drivers to pilot the No. 21 Chevrolet during the full season, joining Myatt Snider and Anthony Alfredo.
Grala made five starts in the No. 21 in 2019, earning a best result of fifth at Road America.
“I learned a lot as a driver working with RCR last year, so I feel confident that our existing chemistry as a team will lead to even better results in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season,” Grala said in a press release. “RCR’s Xfinity Series program is top-notch, and with the No. 21 car running all year, I am excited to be a part of the team chasing yet another owner’s championship. I’m very grateful to Richard Childress for giving me this opportunity to further my career.”
No sponsors were part of the announcement.
“Kaz showed quite a bit of speed and promise in the No. 21 car last year for RCR,” Richard Childress said in a press release. “I’m confident the results will show in 2020, especially after a year under his belt in our proven Xfinity program.”
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The president of Richard Childress Racing said it is a “longshot” that Daniel Suarez will drive a third Cup entry for the organization in 2020 but said RCR would like to have Suarez drive its No. 2 Xfinity car next year.
Suarez has not decided where he’ll race in 2020 after losing his ride with Stewart-Haas Racing this year.
Suarez has been linked with RCR. A third Cup entry would require RCR to acquire another charter for that car. It also could mean that the organization would need to hire additional people if they expanded to three full-time cars.
“I think that would be a long shot in a Cup program,” Torrey Galida told NBC Sports about Suarez in a third RCR Cup entry. “We’ve talked to him about an Xfinity program. We’d love to have him in an Xfinity car, and we think we could win another championship next year with Daniel. He’s a very talented young man.”
Richard Childress Racing’s No. 21 Xfinity car will run the full season with multiple drivers in 2020. Myatt Snider and Anthony Alfredo have been announced to drive that car. Galida said the team is looking at Kaz Grala, Austin Dillon and possibly two-time series champ Tyler Reddick driving that car in select races.
RCR ran the No. 21 car in nine of 33 Xfinity races this past season. It ran the No. 2 car in every race.
If Suarez, the 2016 Xfinity champion, drove for RCR in the Xfinity Series next year, it would be with the organization’s No. 2 car.
“We could still do that and we would do that,” Galida said of a full-time Xfinity effort for Suarez. “That’s the kind of opportunity we would be interested in.”
Galida said it just is a matter of hearing what Suarez decides.
“I think he knows what we’ve got to offer, and I think he’s just weighing his alternatives and trying to determine what is best for him,” Galida told NBC Sports. “I’m sure that going back to the Xfinity Series is not his first choice. I think in the right equipment it could be a really good move for him.”
Galida said they could go into January before hearing from Suarez but noted that “the sooner the better. People are your biggest issue. You want to put the right people around him.”
Anthony Alfredo to drive select Xfinity races for RCR in 2020
Richard Childress Racing announced Tuesday that Anthony Alfredo will share driving duties with Myatt Snider in the No. 21 car in the Xfinity Series in 2020.
“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to compete in the Xfinity Series for Richard Childress Racing in 2020,” Alfredo said in a statement from the team. “It’s every racer’s dream to drive for such an iconic organization like RCR. I’m very thankful for everyone that has helped put this together, including my family, friends and our partners. This is a career-making opportunity for me, and I plan to take full advantage of it.”
The 20-year-old Alfredo competed full-time in the K&N Pro Series East in 2019, winning at South Boston (Virginia) Speedway. He also competed in 12 Gander Outdoors Truck Series race with DGR-Crosley, earning two top-10 results.
“I’ve watched Anthony drive in the Truck series this past season and I’m certain he’ll do well in our Xfinity Series cars,” said Richard Childress, chairman and CEO of Richard Childress Racing, in a statement. “RCR has had a lot of success over the years producing young, talented drivers through our development program. I believe that Anthony will fit right into that same mold.”
Matt Crafton may not have won a race this season – in fact, he hasn’t won since Eldora in mid-2017 – but he won the biggest prize of all Friday night, capturing the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Driving the No. 88 ThorSport Racing Ford, Crafton finished second to race winner Austin Hill (led a race-high 56 laps), but placed higher than the other Championship 4 drivers – Ross Chastain (finished fourth in the race, second in the season standings), 2018 champ Brett Moffitt (fifth in the race and third in the season standings) and Stewart Friesen (11th in the race and fourth in the season standings) – to take home his third career Truck championship.
Wrapping up his 19th full-time season in the Truck Series, Crafton’s previous titles were in 2013 and 2014. He finishes the season with zero wins, seven top-five and 18 top-10 finishes.
“It’s amazing, just one step closer to what Hornaday has done,” Crafton told FS1, alluding to NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr.’s record four Truck championships. Hornaday joined Crafton to celebrate in victory lane. Crafton is now tied for second on the all-time Truck Series championships list with Jack Sprague (three titles apiece).
“They called us the underdog, that I didn’t have it, but we fought harder than everyone, I guarantee you, every one of these guys worked harder,” Crafton said to FS1. “This thing ran flawless all night, the motor was very good as well. Everything just went our way.”
Crafton even poked a bit of fun at himself, having endured criticism and questions of his ability for not having won in over two years, and also having issues on restarts that led to some calling him “the old man” (at 43, Crafton was the oldest of the four Championship 4 drivers: Friesen is 36, Moffitt is 27 and Chastain is the youngest at 26).
“I guess I finally got up off the wheelchair and got up on the wheel and got it done,” Crafton told FS1 with a laugh. “I took a lot of criticism over restarts and it was time to get it done now.”
Stage 1 winner: Austin Hill led the last 2 laps to win the stage after Ross Chastain led first 28 laps
Stage 2 winner: Austin Hill wins stage again. Only one driver has won the first two stages and then gone on to win the Truck race this season: Kyle Busch.
Who else had a good race: Austin Hill continued his late-season surge. Friday’s win was his third in the last eight races and fourth of the season. He bookends the season, having won the season opener at Daytona and the season finale a few hundred miles south in Homestead. “That’s probably the best truck I’ve had,” Hill told FS1. “We just showed how good we actually were. … Awesome way to end the season.”
Who had a bad race:Anthony Alfredo’s season ended before the race even began. Upon starting the engine, he developed a large fluid leak, leaving his team to push him back to the garage, his night over. … Ray Ciccarelli’s day ended after 46 laps when the motor in his truck blew up.
Notable: Making only his third career Truck Series start, Tanner Gray was running in the top 10 before finishing 16th. The 2018 NHRA Pro Stock champ’s previous best finish was 17th last week at Phoenix. … Christian Eckes drove the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota to clinch the owner’s championship.
What’s next: The 2020 season kicks off three months from now at Daytona International Speedway with the NextEra Energy 250 on February 14, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. ET.