DAYTONA BEACH, Fl.— In a wild last lap at Daytona International Speedway, Kaz Grala was able to drive his way through the carnage on the backstretch to win the NextEra Energy Resources 250. Grala started from the pole position becoming the first driver to do so since Jack Sprague in 2007. Grala is the youngest winner in NASCAR competition at Daytona.
“I was going to go go, cross my fingers, and close my eyes a little bit. Luckily, it worked out for me. I can’t believe it. This is so surreal,” said Grala post-race.
The first stage for Grala saw him lead the first six laps with the caution falling on lap three. Grala lost the lead for a lap due to pit stops, but regained the lead when Moffitt went down pit road. When the race went back green, Grala had a strong restart, but was unable to hold off the momentum from Christopher Bell. Grala became a darkhorse when he lost the lead, but was able to hang with his teammate Johnny Sauter, who won the first stage, after an accident on the frontstretch coming to the end of the stage.
In the second stage, Grala started on the inside, but let Sauter get in front of him when the race restarted. Grala would remain behind Sauter, who dominated the second stage.
In the final stage, Grala was sitting quietly in the draft behind teammates. Grala and GMS Racing teammates went down pit road under the green flag before anyone else in the field. The plan almost backfired on the GMS Racing organization as Spencer Gallagher and Scott Lagasse Jr. were busted for speeding on pit road. A break came when Bell spun on the frontstretch. On the restart, Grala let Sauter in front of him. The caution flew again with six laps remaining for a spin by John Hunter Nemechek. When the race restarted with two laps to go, it was anybody’s game. Once again, Grala let Sauter in front go him, but was shuffled back. When Sauter went low, that left Matt Crafton with momentum on the high side. On the final lap, the field went three-wide, but wrecked coming off of turn two. Crafton went airborne, collecting Sauter, but Grala left unscathed to go on to his first career victory.
Grala will race for the first time on intermediate track next weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Active Pest Control 200.