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With 10-year-old car set to be retired, Kaz Grala earns first top five for Fury Race Cars

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Before going to Daytona International Speedway last week, Kaz Grala and Fury Race Cars made Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste a promise.

They promised to return a decade-old car with minimal racing history to the team unscratched.

They did this not knowing Friday’s Xfinity race at the restrictor-plate track would include multi-car incidents involving 17 and nine vehicles respectively.

Fury Race Cars, a team only five races old and racing week-to-week, had secured sponsorship for Daytona. But among the fleet of cars given to it by Grala’s former team JGL Racing, there wasn’t a superspeedway car.

“About two weeks ago we started making phone calls and putting feelers out saying, ‘Hey, this is the last race these steel-bodied cars could even be legal to run on a restrictor-plate track, does anyone have some extra ones, backup cars?” Grala told NBC Sports two days after he finished fifth at Daytona. “We weren’t thinking show cars at the time, but just any spare car they didn’t plan on running that weekend that would be obsolete after this weekend.”

Enter Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste.

They had a car. One that traced its origins back to Evernham Motorsports, a team that ceased to exist after 2008. From there it was owned by Richard Petty Motorsports. Then it went to Biagi-DenBeste Racing and finally Stewart-Haas Racing, who entered a partnership with Biagi-DenBeste in the Xfinity Series this season.

The car had never run a lap for SHR and with steel bodied cars in Xfinity going extinct after Saturday’s race, the team was prepping to turn it into a show car.

“I was excited about it because it was a car,” Grala said. “It might have been a show car, but Biagi and obviously Stewart-Haas always have good plate track cars so I knew it had potential. … As long we stayed out of the carnage … It’s just a lot easier to think about it beforehand than to actually get it done.”

After starting 38th due to qualifying being cancelled, Grala finished 13th in Stage 1. He then dodged his first bullet on Lap 82 when he managed to navigate his No. 61 Ford through a 17-car wreck that took “5 years off my life.”

After a Lap 88 restart, the caution returned a lap later for a three-car incident. Grala was ninth. But the 19-year-old driver felt something wrong with his car, which was loose under caution. Determining his right-rear tire was done and so was his race, he slowed to pit road speed as the rest of the field returned to racing speed.

Grala returned to the track in 24th with the field bearing down on him.

“That pack was getting a lot larger in my mirror and I was just praying that something was going to happen and there’d be a caution,” Grala said. “Sure enough my spotter said, ‘Oh, they’re wrecking behind you.’ I look in my mirror and I see smoke and sparks and a caution’s out.”

A nine-car wreck with three laps left in regulation led to Grala restarting 15th in overtime. On the last lap, he moved from the bottom to the high lane, which “panned out really good” for Grala, as momentum allowed him to push Christopher Bell and Justin Haley to the front and him to a fifth-place finish in a spotless car.

It was his second top five of the season and the first for Fury Race Cars.

“Looking at it from our organization and what we were able to do with that old show car, fifth is good no matter what,” Grala said. “We didn’t have a single scratch on our car. We didn’t even have so much as a donut. (The flat tire) must have been a stroke of bad luck, but you say that, but it’s hard to say whether it was a blessing in a disguise or not. Because obviously there was that big wreck. Whose to say whether we would have been ahead of it, behind it, in the middle of it had we been where we should have been. It’s easy to look back on it and say ‘I think we would have been better off.’ Who knows?

“All I know is that the way it did work out, it worked out for us.”

Grala announced on Twitter Tuesday his team was unable to secure sponsorship for this weekend’s race at Kentucky Speedway, but that Fury has sponsorship for the July 21 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Without attempting to qualifying for every race this season, Grala will be ineligible for the payoffs were he to be inside the cutoff line at the end of the regular season. He left Daytona 14th in the standings. Twelve drivers make the playoffs.

Preliminary entry lists for NASCAR at Kentucky Speedway

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All three of NASCAR’s national series head to the Bluegrass State this weekend to race at Kentucky Speedway.

The weekend at the 1.5-mile track is capped off on Saturday by the Cup Series’ Quaker State 400 presented by Wal-Mart.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for each race.

Cup – Quaker State 400 (7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday on NBCSN)

There are 39 entries for the race.

Jesse Little, son of former Cup driver Chad Little will make his series debut driving Premium Motorsports’ No. 7 Chevrolet.

Garrett Smithley is set for his second career start driving StarCom Racing’s No. 99 Chevrolet. His first start last month at Michigan ended after one lap due to a transmission problem.

No driver is attached yet to BK Racing’s No. 23 Toyota.

Last year, Martin Truex Jr. led 152 laps and won over Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott.

Click here for the Cup entry list.

Xfinity – Alsco 300 (8 p.m. ET on Friday on NBCSN)

There are 39 entries for the race.

Kyle Busch, Ty Dillon and Paul Menard are the only full-time Cup drivers entered.

Spencer Gallagher returns to GMS Racing’s No. 23 Chevrolet after missing seven races. He missed six of those due to a suspension for violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy.

Kaz Grala and Fury Race Cars are not entered in the race. The team had started the previous six races.

Last year, Tyler Reddick led 66 laps and won over Brennan Poole and Justin Allgaier.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – Buckle Up In Your Truck 225

There are 33 entries for the race. No full-time Cup drivers are entered.

NBC Sports analyst Parker Kligerman is entered in Henderson Motorsports’ No. 75 Chevrolet.

Last year, Christopher Bell won this race over Brandon Jones and Justin Haley.

Click here for entry list.

Kaz Grala, Fury Race Cars secure sponsorship for Xfinity race at Daytona

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Kaz Grala announced on Twitter he and Fury Race Cars have obtained sponsorship for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Daytona International Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN), giving him and the team a sixth race together.

Grala’s No. 61 Ford will again be sponsored by Kiklos Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil in addition to Marlow’s Tavern.

Kiklos was on Grala’s car Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway when an electrical issue ended his day after just one lap, giving him a last-place finish and his third DNF of the year.

Marlow’s Tavern sponsored Grala in the Feb. 24 race at Atlanta.

Fury had to scramble to find sponsorship after its deal with NETTTS ended following the June 17 race at Iowa Speedway. NETTTS sponsored the No. 61 in the team’s first four races after Grala’s departure from JGL Racing following the May 5 race at Dover.

Kiklos has been a frequent sponsor of Grala’s since he competed in the K&N Pro Series East and the Camping World Truck Series. It sponsored Grala when he won the Trucks 2017 season opener at Daytona. At 18, the victory made him the youngest Daytona winner in NASCAR national series history.

This weekend’s Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 will be the first restrictor-plate race for Fury Race Cars, which is co-owned by Grala’s father, Darius Grala.

With chassis and team members from JGL Racing and support from Roush Fenway Racing and Roush Yates Engines, Grala has two top 10s in his five starts for Fury. His last-place finish Saturday was his first finish worse than 16th with Fury.

In the season opener at Daytona, Grala finished fourth for JGL Racing giving him top fives in both of his NASCAR starts at Daytona.

Grala enters this weekend 17th in points.

 

Kyle Larson wins Xfinity race at Chicagoland

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Kyle Larson won the pole for the Overton’s 300 at Chicagoland Speedway, but he had to drop to the back of the pack to start the race after changing a right front tire that went flat after qualification. Undeterred, he climbed back into the lead to win by more than eight seconds over Kevin Harvick.

This is Larson’s 10th career victory in the Xfinity series in his 105th start.

Harvick was fast on short runs, but had to settle for second.

Cole Custer also had to come from the back of the pack with a tire change. He finished third and took the points lead. This is his fifth consecutive top-five – his longest streak of his career.

Daniel Suarez and Daniel Hemric rounded out the top five.

Hemric earned his fourth straight top-five, which is also a career-best streak.

Chase Briscoe finished ninth to score his first top 10 of his career.

Chase Elliott finished 10th despite suffering from extreme heat. He went to the infield care center immediately following the race to take IV fluid.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Tyler Reddick

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Larson

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Cole Custer had a flat tire before the third round of qualification and was forced to start at the back with an unapproved tire change; he drove to the front and finished third. … Daniel Hemric climbed from 10th to fifth despite battling a greasey track.

WHO HAD A BAD DAYKaz Grala‘s Ford developed an electrical issue on lap one; he retired in last place (40th) … Reddick was involved in a three-car accident when Jeb Burton cut across Ryan Reed‘s nose. All three sustained heavy damage, but Reed remained on track.

NOTABLE: Reddick scored his first career stage win before losing 10 spots on pit road with a slow stop on the left side. Reddick climbed back to fifth exiting the pits at the end of stage two, but was penalized for an uncontrolled tire and dropped to the back of the lead lap.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “There’s always hope with this team. There’s been a lot times I’ve felt like I’m not good in practice and then Shiflett and all the guys make it a lot better in the race. So, hat’s off to them. … It’s extremely hot in the car, so thanks for bringing me water.” – Kyle Larson on the frontstretch on NBCSN.

MORE: Results and Points report.

WHAT’S NEXT: Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on July 6 on NBCSN

 

Xfinity Series practice report from Chicagoland Speedway

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Christopher Bell was fastest Friday’s final Xfinity Series practice at Chicagoland Speedway.

Bell posted a top speed of 173.784 mph.

He was followed by Daniel Suarez (172.117 mph), Paul Menard (172.068), Cole Custer (171.597) and Matt Tifft (171.554).

Kaz Grala was sixth fastest at 171.461 mph.

Daniel Hemric, who was 10th fastest, recorded the most laps with 48.

Kevin Harvick had the best 10-lap average at 169.512 mph.

The session was stopped once for a spin by Suarez in Turn 2 as he exited pit road. He didn’t make any contact.

Click here for the speed chart.

First practice

Bell was also fastest in the first practice session.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver posted a top speed of 172.359 mph around the 1.5-mile track.

Bell was followed by Austin Cindric (171.767 mph), Tyler Reddick (171.756), Chase Briscoe (171.543) and Tifft (171.298).

Cindric recorded the most laps in the session with 41.

Reddick had the best 10-lap average at 169.749 mph.

The second practice session is scheduled for 7:35 – 8:20 p.m ET on NBCSN.

Click here for the practice report.