MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) announced today that the team has added 16-year-old Kaz Grala to the driver lineup for its Late Model program. Grala will compete in multiple events behind the wheel of a KBM Late Model in 2015, including driving the No. 51 Camry for the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown at South Boston (Va.) Speedway on April 23.
"I am unbelievably excited to have been given the opportunity to drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports," Grala said. "This organization is the epitome of success and it's an honor to be invited into the KBM family. As a young driver to be able to learn from some of the most knowledgeable people in the industry, both drivers and engineers, will be hugely beneficial.
"I am especially anxious to get behind the wheel of the No. 51 Toyota Camry for the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown at South Boston Speedway -- my favorite Late Model short track," he continued. "I have competed in the event the past two years, running well both times, but ending up with 'wrong place, wrong time' luck. South Boston has always been one of my most successful tracks, but I have not been able to score a victory there yet. Hopefully, we can get redemption this year and bring home the trophy for Kyle Busch and his organization."
Grala will be competing in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown, a charity race which features top NASCAR drivers competing against the best regional Late Model drivers, for the third time in his young career. After having a substitute driver qualify his car for last year's event at South Boston due to a conflict with a K&N Pro Series East race, he had an impressive showing. The then 15-year-old maneuvered his way from his 16th-starting position inside the top 10 for most of the race, where he raced side-by-side for several laps with KBM owner-driver Kyle Busch, but was relegated to a 21st-place finish after getting caught up in an accident late in the race.
KBM won the Hamlin Showdown in 2013 with Busch behind the wheel at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and finished fourth with Busch in last year's running at South Boston.
In addition to his races in the KBM Super Late Model in 2015, the 16-year-old wheelman is competing full-time in the K&N Pro Series East this season in Toyotas for Ben Kennedy Racing. In 2014, the Massachusetts native collected four top-five and 10 top-10 finishes en route to a seventh-place finish in the final point standings in the K&N Pro Series East. Grala also put together several strong runs as a full-time participant in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series last season, highlighted by a win in the Rusty Harpe Memorial 171 at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C. With the win, he became the youngest driver ever to win a NASCAR-sanctioned race at Caraway.
The talented youngster began racing in the Late Model Stock Car (LMSC) division in 2013. In only his second start, the then 14-year-old became the youngest winner in UARA series history when he won the Banjo Matthews Memorial 150 at storied Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Grala went on to post two top-five and eight top-10 finishes across nine starts. In recognition of his efforts, Grala received the Speed51/JEGS 2013 Rookie of the Year Award, joining the likes of Chase Elliott, Ross Kenseth, Erik Jones and Kyle Larson.
The KBM Late Model program will compete in over 20 races in 2015. Christopher Bell, who picked up the victory last month in the NASCAR Super Late Model Bruce Gowland Memorial 100 at New Smyrna Speedway, is scheduled to run 15 more races this season. Bell's next event will be the Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway in Kinston on Sunday, March 15.
Notable wins for the KBM Late Model team since its inception in 2007 include: Wisconsin All-Star 100 at the Milwaukee Mile (Kyle Busch 2008), Red Bud 300 at Anderson Speedway (Kyle Busch 2009), Winchester 400 at Winchester Speedway (Kyle Busch 2009 and Erik Jones 2013 & 2014), Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway (Kyle Busch 2009 and Erik Jones 2013), SpeedFest at Lanier National Speedway (Kyle Busch 2009 & 2010), SpeedFest at Watermelon Capital Speedway (Kyle Busch 2012), Rowdy 251 at Berlin Raceway (Kyle Busch 2010, 2011 & 2012), All-American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TJ Reaid 2010), Slinger Nationals at Slinger Super Speedway (Kyle Busch 2011), the Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway (Kyle Busch 2011), Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown at Richmond International Raceway (Kyle Busch 2013) and the Howie Lettow Memorial at the Milwaukee Mile (Kyle Busch 2013 and Erik Jones 2014).
-KBM Press Release. Photo credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images