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Kaz Grala Has Mixed Emotions for Martinsville Truck Debut

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Kaz Grala will make his Camping World Truck Series debut at Martinsville Speedway this weekend in the No. 33 Chevrolet for GMS Racing, and while he is experiencing all of the normal emotions leading up to the Alpha Energy Solutions 250, this is one of the high points in his young career.

“Excited, scared, thrilled, yes I feel all of that right now,” Grala told POPULAR SPEED. “It is a little bit nerve-wracking but it is something that I have been preparing for my whole career.

“It has all led up to this moment. I definitely feel as ready for it as I’ll ever be and I’m really excited to get the weekend started.”

Grala’s debut comes as a result of the various connections he’s already made throughout the NASCAR garage.

“I drive for Ben Kennedy’s K&N team and so last year I was affiliated with Red Horse Racing through Ben,” Grala said. “I did a test at Martinsville for Red Horse with Timothy Peters’ truck. And of course crew chiefing that truck was Marcus Richmond, who this year moved over to GMS Racing to crew chief Johnny Sauter.

“So, he mentioned my name to GMS and they reached out to me to ask if I wanted to drive the truck. And I said ‘of course, absolutely.’”

Since the truck debut deal was announced in February, Grala has been preparing in as many ways as possible to jump into this new seat.

“I definitely have been watching a lot of video, including on track and video of pit stops,” Grala said. “Keep in mind that I’ve never made a hot pit stop before in NASCAR. So, that will be a different situation for me. Thursday morning I’m going to head over to Richard Childress Racing and practice their pit car there. I think that will be pretty valuable for me.

“But without being able to test a whole lot in the Truck Series, I’m really just going off that one test that I did last year at Martinsville with Red Horse. I’m using what I learned there with Timothy Peters then and I think that will be pretty valuable for me this weekend.”

In addition to his inexperience with pit stops, he will also face the challenge of racing on a different tire compound. With his experience being in the K&N Series, Grala has never raced on radial tires before, which is what the top three NASCAR national series use.

But while he may be a bit new to pit stops and radial tires, Grala is counting on some familiar faces on his team and in the garage to help him take maximal advantage of his Truck debut.

“I’ve talked to my teammates Johnny Sauter and Spencer Gallagher a lot,” Grala said. “Grant Enfinger is also going to be at the track working with me all weekend giving me some pointers and watching me pretty closely.

“So, all of that is extremely helpful for me. Really, I’m glad that I’ll have plenty of teammates and people in the pits that I know and that I can talk to for advice.”

While leaning on his compatriots for counsel and support, Grala has decided to set simple goals for himself as he climbs aboard the No. 33 GMS race truck.

“It’s a 250 lap race so I’m really hoping to finish all the laps,” Grala said. “And that is a tall order at Martinsville. I’m also hoping to stay out of the mess. Not too many people can do that so I think we’ll need a little bit of luck and being at the right place at the right time. All we can do is put ourselves as far forward in the field as possible and be careful.

“I’d really love to finish all the laps and if we can do that with minimal damage, I have confidence that we will be right there up front.”

For the 17-year-old driver that started out in a go-kart racing on road courses when he was four years old, there is no doubt that racing at Martinsville is indeed the culmination of his racing career to date.

“I really need to say a huge thank you to Mr. Gallagher, GMS Racing, and Allegiant Travel for giving me the opportunity to drive the No. 33 truck,” Grala said. “It’s really huge for me.

“This will be great for learning and I know it will be a lot of fun. We’re going to have a good year together with hopefully more good things will come in the future.”


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Mary Jo Buchanan

Mary Jo Buchanan has been a race fan since her childhood, having grown up at a local Pennsylvania dirt track. With her experience in the pits, she has developed an interest and expertise in all levels of racing, from the local scene to the highest level of the sport. Many of her articles focus on the ‘behind the scenes’ and sometimes ‘off the beaten path’ stories about the world of racing. Buchanan also enjoys writing about up and coming drivers and the people that make NASCAR work on a daily basis.