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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.

Kyle Busch wins 50th Snowball Derby; Harrison Burton finishes fourth

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Kyle Busch led the final 17 laps and won the 50th Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway.

It’s Busch’s second victory in the Super Late Model race after winning the 2009 edition of the event in Pensacola, Florida.

Driving a car he owned, Busch passed Jeff Choquette for the lead on Lap 283 on the inside as they entered Turn 1. Busch went unchallenged the rest of the way, beating Choquette, Bubba Pollard, K&N Pro Series East champion Harrison Burton and Cassius Clark.

The final 70 laps of the 300-lap race went caution free. Choquette and Pollard combined to lead 221 laps around the half-mile track.

The win came after Busch started the race 15th.

“This is awesome. Man, what a day,” Busch told Speed51.com in Victory Lane. “I didn’t think we had it there for a while, for about 280 laps. Then that final 20 (laps), she came to life. Just tried to persevere and save and work my way to those guys and finally be able to get my way around them. I wasn’t sure that once I got there I’d have enough to get by them. But they just kind of kept falling off and mine just plateaued and kind of stayed.”

Ty Majeski, who will drive for Roush Fenway Racing in the Xfinity Series next year, finished two laps down in 17th. Majeski restarted first from a caution mid-race, during which he did not pit. But the race went green for 75 laps and Majeski was lapped twice.

Defending Snowball Derby winner Christian Eckes finished 19th, three laps down after he was involved in the large multi-car wreck on Lap 93 that caused a red flag. That wreck also involved pole-sitter Preston Peltier, who finished 32nd.

Noah Gragson, who races for Busch in the Camping World Truck Series, finished 12th, one lap down.

Corey LaJoie placed 24th after a broken track bar ended his night on Lap 218.

Martin Truex Jr. wins first Dover stage for seventh stage victory of season

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Martin Truex Jr. won the first stage of the AAA Drive for Autism 400 after leading 68 laps at Dover International Speedway.

Truex, who won at Dover last fall, now has seven stage wins this year to lead the Cup Series.

Making up the top 10 after 120 laps: Truex, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Kyle Busch and Daniel Suarez.

The first of five cautions in the stage was on Lap 16 for a spin in Turn 1 by Ryan Sieg, driving the No. 83 Toyota in his Cup debut.

During the pit sequence, pole-sitter Kyle Busch lost his left-rear tire leavin the pits after a miscue with the tire changer. After suffering damage to the left rear of the No. 18 Toyota, Busch restarted 34th and made his way back to the top 10.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who stayed out under the first caution, brought out the second caution on Lap 47 when he lost a tire and hit the wall entering Turn 3.

Stenhouse brought out the third caution when he lost his right-front tire again on Lap 62 and hit the wall out of Turn 4, ending his day. It’s his first DNF since the Daytona 500.

When the race went back to green on Lap 66, Kurt Busch restarted second and got loose in Turn 2. He spun and took out Brad Keselowski, ending his day. It’s Keselowski’s third DNF and second in a row.

Kurt Busch’s race ended 30 laps later when he lost his left-rear tire, spun and backed hard into the Turn 1 wall. It’s his first DNF since Martinsville.

Clint Bowyer exited the race during the caution with an oil leak.

The second stage will end on Lap 240 of 400.

Jeff Gordon’s Baby Ruth car sold at Barrett Jackson

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The Ford Thunderbird that Jeff Gordon won his first NASCAR races with back in 1992 is officially off the market.

The Baby Ruth sponsored No. 1 car, driven in 1992 by Gordon for Bill Davis, sold at the Barrett Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona this weekend with a winning bid of $110,000.

The car was recently restored under the supervision of former crew chief Ray Evernham. The $110,000 is a small amount compared to the $1.2 millon Rick Hendrick paid for the first 2017 Acura NSX.

The person that bought the Thunderbird now owns the vehicle that Gordon won three races in 1992 in what was then the Busch Series. At the end of 1992, Gordon made his Sprint Cup debut driving the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.