12 Questions with Kaz Grala (2018)

Kaz Grala has three top-10 finishes in seven Xfinity races since teaming with Fury Race Cars. (Getty Images photo)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Kaz Grala, the Xfinity Series driver who is now with Fury Race Cars after starting the year with JGL Racing. Grala’s playoff hopes recently came to an end after he missed the Kentucky race due to a lack of sponsorship, but the team is hoping to find funding for the rest of the season and beyond.

1. How often do you have dreams about racing?

I’m not much of a dreamer — literally. I don’t dream much. But I don’t think there’s ever a time I’m not thinking about racing. Even when I’m not racing, I’m doing it online like a total geek or something. So my whole life is racing. That’s all I’ve got.

2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?

I feel like yes. If someone gets into me, especially if it looks intentional, I do appreciate an apology. It won’t fix anything, and I still probably owe them one, but I do appreciate the gesture. So I like to at least give people the satisfaction if it’s intentional. If it’s not, then they can deal with it.

You said you still owe them one either way. So does it change the degree of how bad you owe them if they’ve apologized?

Yes, I think the way you handle an incident afterward completely dictates what the ongoing trouble is between the two of you.

3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?

I guess the biggest compliment someone could give me is just saying they respect the way I race. I try to race guys the way I would want to be raced, whether that’s from a contact perspective or just common courtesy on the racetrack. I think you have to race everyone as hard as you can, but everyone in the garage knows there are a certain number of things you can do that are just not cool to do to someone else, so I try to avoid those things. If someone says they enjoy racing around me, I take that as a good compliment.

4. NASCAR comes to you and says they’re bringing a celebrity to the track and they want you to host them. Who is a celebrity you’d be excited to host?

I’m a big fan of the Migos’ music, and I didn’t realize that they were at the race at California and I was pretty mad that I didn’t get to see them. I had no idea they were there until after the fact. So I wish I could get to meet them and lead them around.

5. In an effort to show this is a health conscious sport, NASCAR decides to offer the No. 1 pit stall for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for one month. Would you do it?

No. Not a chance.

You love your meat and cheese?

Yes. Vegetarian, maybe, because you can just overload on some pasta and some cheese — which you cannot deny is amazing. But if you’re taking cheese out of the equation, then it’s a no-go for me.

6. It’s time for the Random Race Challenge. I’ve picked a random race from your career and you have to tell me where you finished. This is the 2015 Loudon K&N race. Do you remember this at all?

Yes. Started sixth, finished third?

Started sixth, finished third! Wow.


That’s pretty amazing. This is a race that William Byron dominated pretty much, but you were able to move up.

So it was just a regular race in 2015. (Laughs) But I remember that one specifically because that was my home race, of course. I tend to remember the Loudon races.

7. Who is the best rapper alive? Oh wait, you just said you’re into rap with Migos.

Yeah, we actually covered that, but another good one that I can give you is I’m a big 21 Savage fan.

So you definitely like the new school guys.

Yeah. I’m more of a new school guy in everything. Everyone’s into these old vintage cars, the old music. I can attest to the fact that I’m totally into the new stuff only. No matter what it’s about.

8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?

This is always a good question to read the responses of on your website. The problem with this question is there is no politically correct answer, so I’m just going have to go with, of course, my good friend Justin Haley because I think he would do me the honor of giving me the answer to that question himself.

He would like to punch you, so therefore you’ll just say him?

Yeah, we just like to give each other crap back and forth. So he’s got it coming.

9. NASCAR enlists three famous Americans to be involved with your team for one race as part of a publicity push: Taylor Swift, LeBron James and Tom Hanks. Choose one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter and one to be your motorhome driver.

So our spotter is probably Taylor Swift because she’s got a pretty good voice. Then what are the other jobs?

Crew chief and motorhome driver between LeBron and Tom Hanks.

OK, I’m going to go with LeBron as motorhome driver because I think it sounds like it would be pretty fun to hang out with him.

And Tom Hanks is more of a serious guy. Like you’ve got to be serious to be the crew chief — you’ve got a job to do. So he’ll be the crew chief.

10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?

That is important. You always have to eye out the closest port-o-potty or bathroom before driver intros because you have to make a stop there before the race. And some tracks do not make that easy for you. There’s been times I’ve missed the first word of the national anthem because I’m on my way back from the bathroom.

But I wish tracks would make that easier for you. They need to put port-o-potties where they’re gonna grid the cars because anytime that there is a port-o-potty nearby, you’ll see five drivers lined up before opening ceremonies to be in it. It’s important.

I did a interview with Denny Hamlin in the last 12 questions, and he was the first driver all year to go, “No, you don’t need port-o-potties, just go before you walk out to intros.” He didn’t understand why drivers need to wait until the last minute. Why does everybody wait?

For me, at least at some races, the particularly hot ones, I hydrate like crazy for the three days before. So I may go before intros, but I’m going to need to go after intros still. It’s either that or in the car, and the car is not a pleasant time to do it, so I’m going to try to squeeze it in before I get into the car.

11. NASCAR decides they miss the highlight reel value brought by Carl Edwards’ backflips and want a replacement. How much money would they have to offer for you to backflip off your car following your next win?

Not that much, just the medical bills. I don’t think I’d survive it. I’m not coordinated, nor do I have any balance, so I don’t think it would go well. But hey, if they cover the medical expenses, I’d try it.

12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week’s was with Denny Hamlin. He wanted to know: What’s the most disappointing loss you’ve ever had in your career?

The most disappointing race for me was Pocono ARCA last year. Going into that race, I had never in my career started on the pole of a race and lost. And I qualified on the pole for the ARCA race there and led the first half of it.

This was technically my second ARCA start, but my first was at Daytona so I’d like to say this was my first “regular” ARCA race. I was not aware of the restart rules — or lack thereof — and started on the front row with Justin Haley. He was well aware of them and we get within 100 yards of the box and he is gone and bringing guys with him, and I settled into fourth and was never able to climb my way back to the front and lost that race.

He knows that I’m still bitter about that because every time I’m at his house, he makes sure to put that eagle trophy in a different spot right in front of me.

I don’t know who the next interview is going to be with. Do you have a question I can ask another driver in the garage?

Two-part question: Do they know anyone who can sponsor me, and if not, do they have a backup car they are willing to lend me, because I’d like to get to do as many more races this year as possible, and right now this (Daytona) is the last one we’ve got planned. So I hope that I can do more this year. (Editor’s note: Although Grala wasn’t able to find funding for Kentucky, he raced last weekend at New Hampshire.)

This is the first 12 Questions with Kaz Grala.

Young drivers express concerns over future of All-Star aero package

Four of NASCAR’s top young drivers expressed reservations Friday about moving forward with the high-drag/downforce aero package in future races.

While Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman and Christopher Bell all agreed on the entertainment value of the aero package — which was highly popular with fans in the recent All-Star Race — they said it wouldn’t be fitting for the Cup Series unless tweaks were made.

“As a race car driver, it’s pretty easy to drive,” Bowman said. “We’re the premier stock car series in the world, so obviously you would like it to be a little more difficult to drive. You don’t just want to go everywhere and be wide open.”

The aero package was first used at the Indianapolis Xfinity race last season and most recently at Charlotte for the All-Star Race, which drew widespread praise from fans. It will also be used in Saturday’s Xfinity race at Pocono and next week’s Xfinity race at Michigan.

Drivers also expressed confidence NASCAR will try it again in the Cup Series this season, perhaps even at multiple races later this summer.

But while it might make for a better show, it also brings up a major dilemma: The level of difficulty is decreased.

“We’re all race car drivers; we want to show we’re the best,” said Bell, who has won the last two Chili Bowls and last year’s Truck Series title. “You can’t (show) that when you’re not pushing the issue of the tire and you’re not grip-limited. Whenever you’re not getting the most out of your race car, it’s just a different style of racing. It almost becomes more of chess racing, so to speak.”

Wallace said he saw a post on social media that said the dream of reaching the Cup Series meant being at a superior level, and the All-Star Race felt more like jumping into a local Saturday night race. The Richard Petty Motorsports driver agreed with that assessment.

“If you had the need for speed and decent car control, anybody could have driven that,” Wallace said. “And it shouldn’t be like that when you get up to the big leagues. You know: ‘I can play with LeBron; I can match him.’”

Blaney said the cars were “a little easy to drive” in the All-Star Race and preferred it to be more challenging. Like the others, he praised NASCAR for trying to improve the racing but said changes would be needed  — whether it’s more horsepower or less downforce — to keep more of an emphasis on handling.

That’s the balance that will be hotly debated in racing circles over the coming months as NASCAR tries to figure out which direction it should go. What matters more: The show or the purity of the racing?

“(The All-Star Race) was a great race, and the fans are why we’re here and why we’re allowed to be paid to be race car drivers,” Bowman said. “From that side of things, I loved it. … You have to look at what’s best for the sport, and making the race fans happy is what’s best for not only me, but everybody in this room.”

Kaz Grala, listening to Bell and fellow Xfinity driver Matt Tifft talk about their expectations for Saturday’s race with a similar package, said he was confident the racing would be entertaining.

“I’m sure it’s going to be very exciting to watch,” Grala said. “We’re all just biased because we like to have more control in our hands.”

MORE: Analysis on whether adding more downforce is the right direction in racing