Grala, Briscoe Eliminated from Truck Series Playoffs
Grala entered Saturday’s Fred’s 250 at Talladega Superspeedway eighth in the standings, needing a good run to advance following a 10th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and fifth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
An engine change following qualifying put him at the back of the field to start the event, but he was able to work his way up into the top-10 before being taken out in a wreck on Lap 19. Cody Coughlin got into Chris Fontaine, and although Grala slowed up to avoid them, he was turned from behind by Ryan Truex.
Although Grala struggled through the summer months with four consecutive crashes, he had begun the playoffs with four straight top-10’s before Talladega.
“That’s tough to swallow,” Grala said. “The guys did a good job to get the engine changed, and from what I could tell, we were the fastest truck out there. We were in a position to earn points at the end of stage one, which was pretty unbelievable. I’m not quite sure what happened, but everything checked up. I slowed down, and I think I was going to miss it and then the truck behind us couldn’t get slowed down fast enough, got into us, and turned us up into the wall ending our day.
“It’s the end of our championship hopes, unfortunately, which is tough to take in.”
Briscoe’s troubles on Saturday started early, as well, as he went behind the wall on Lap 7 after leaking fluid. The team discovered there was a pinched o-ring in the valve cover on the No. 29 Ford, changing it and getting him back out there only 10 laps behind the leaders.
Throughout the event, it looked possible that he would still move on after John Hunter Nemechek was involved in a wreck on Lap 54, but Nemechek gained enough positions to keep the sixth and final transfer spot.
The Brad Keselowski Racing driver had been consistent with 11 top-10’s in 19 races this year, but a 11th at New Hampshire and third at Las Vegas, combined with a 22nd at Talladega, proved not to be enough.
“This is just the situation we were dealt in the playoffs, and you have to go out here and perform,” Briscoe said. “Honestly, if we run better at Loudon this doesn’t happen. The good Lord has a bigger plan, and I am not sure what that is. As much as this sucks right now, I am still grateful and fortunate to be running race cars for a living. I have to think big picture, but it sucks. I really wanted to get Brad his first championship, and Austin still has a shot. We still have some races we can win, and that is what we want to do.”
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