Kaz Grala competes in the Xfinity Series race at Daytona in July of 2018.
Jerry Markland | Getty Images

From show car to showtime: Grala’s Daytona finish was ‘basically a win’

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The recurring theme of maximizing performance against long odds made a special Daytona encore for Kaz Grala and Fury Race Cars.

The underdog driver and team pairing, in just their sixth NASCAR Xfinity Series race together, squeezed out an inspiring fifth-place finish in Friday’s Coca-Cola Firecracker 250. It’s a result made even more amazing in that it came in a decommissioned chassis — built when Grala was in elementary school — that’s soon bound for the show car circuit. Furthermore, the team rallied from a distant 38th-place starting spot and recovered from a deflated tire in the waning laps to seal a top five.

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All those factors had the 19-year-old Grala beaming at the outcome, which he called “basically a win.”

“I mean, it’s not too often you can get a flat right-rear with seven (laps) to go and come back and have a top-five finish,” Grala said. “But that’s what’s special about Daytona. If you play your cards right, no matter what goes wrong around you, sometimes it’ll go right for you and that happened for us tonight. ”

Grala is familiar with Cinderella finishes at Daytona, winning the Camping World Truck Series season opener here in 2017. He also placed fourth at the 2.5-mile track in February as he made his Xfinity Series debut.

But it was also an improbable effort for the No. 61 Ford chassis that, according to a Fury spokesperson, began its life an estimated 10-plus years ago with Ray Evernham’s organization. From there, the car went from Richard Petty’s operation to Biagi-DenBeste Racing and ultimately Stewart-Haas Racing, which entered into a partnership with Biagi-DenBeste this season.

Fury took possession of it just before leaving for last weekend’s race at Chicagoland Speedway.

“Luckily, huge thanks to Biagi for giving us one of their backup cars that was going to be a show car,” Grala said. “We said, ‘well, can you just make it a show car after one more race? Let us run this one in it,’ and they so graciously lent it to us. Obviously it was pretty sporty out there. Great car and we have some good calls, good moves to make it up front.”