BOSTON, MA (September 29, 2014) – The youngest full-time driver in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, 15-year-old Kaz Grala, ended his rookie season with a banner day that culminated in a career-high second-place finish in the Drive Sober 150 on September 26th. The race was hosted at the series’ fastest and most challenging track, Dover International Speedway (DE) – the Monster Mile.
After rain forced the cancellation of both practice sessions on Thursday, an hour and 15 minute race-day session was all that remained for Grala to learn the track and help the No. 31 Turner Scott Motorsports team dial-in his OzLINK/NETTTS/Kiklos Chevy. During the abbreviated session, Grala was able to achieve a career-high third-fastest practice time, and then capitalized on that momentum by posting a career-best fifth-place qualifying effort with an average speed of over 152 mph.
“The Monster Mile definitely lived up to its name as the world’s fastest one-mile oval. It took a few laps to get over my mental block of climbing 17 feet into a corner at 170 mph with no intention of fully lifting off the throttle,” said Grala. “Once I got past that, I was able to drive this track as I do any other.”
The first half of the Drive Sober 150, however, proved more challenging than expected as a dramatic change in the handling of his car forced Grala to as far back as eleventh. At lap 74, Grala, pitted in eighth-place for four tires, and a wedge and air pressure adjustment. The adjustments proved effective as Grala was able to make steady progress in the second half. At lap 95, he had battled his way to third-place behind the previous year’s Monster Mile winner, Austin Hill, and this year’s Series champion, Ben Rhodes. With 30 laps to go, Grala was able to overtake the second position and earn a career-high finish in the final race of his rookie season.
“At the start of the race, I realized that the track had changed significantly since qualifying. For the first seventy-four laps, I just tried to hang on to every spot I could while focusing on what adjustments could be made at the halfway pit stop,” explained Grala. “My No. 31 Turner Scott Motorsports crew made the perfect adjustments for a competitive second-half run. I battled my way back to the leaders and fought hard to bring home a career-best second-place finish.”
Grala wraps up his impressive rookie year finishing seventh in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship standings, with ten top-10 and four top-five finishes in 16 races. Now entering his first week of the off-season, Grala, who is still not old enough to hold a Massachusetts Driver’s License, will face what may prove to be his toughest challenge yet – Driver’s Education Class.
-Kaz Grala Press Release. Photo Credit: CIA Stock Photo.