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Interview
IMSA Daytona 24

Kaz Grala: Daytona 24 will be "Battle Royale all the way to the finish"

Kaz Grala enters the 2017 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona as part of the Change Racing Lamborghini Huracan entry.

#16 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3: Corey Lewis, Jeroen Mul, Kaz Grala, Brett Sandberg
#16 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3: Corey Lewis, Jeroen Mul, Kaz Grala, Brett Sandberg
Kaz Grala
#16 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3: Corey Lewis, Jeroen Mul, Kaz Grala, Brett Sandberg
#16 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3: Corey Lewis, Jeroen Mul, Kaz Grala, Brett Sandberg
#16 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3: Corey Lewis, Jeroen Mul, Kaz Grala, Brett Sandberg
Kaz Grala, Chevrolet
Kaz Grala, GMS Racing Chevrolet
Kaz Grala, Chevrolet in trouble

But sports car racing is not his day job. Grala is on the cusp of his first full-time season at the national level of NASCAR with GMS Racing in the Camping World Truck Series. But before the new NASCAR season gets underway, he's here at the Rolex trying to get a win first.

"I’m feeling really, really good about our car," he told Motorsport.com. "It’s a huge class. You look at the driver lineup in GTD, I swear it’s stronger than ever. They have some really heavy hitters, big teams, European teams that I’ve come to win. This is going to be a Battle Royale all the way to the finish, no doubt."

However, things having been smooth sailing all weekend for the 18-year-old and Change Racing, but he feels they've made it to a good place ahead of the green flag.

"I got to say, we did have a grip issue early in the weekend. Car wasn’t perfect, but we made some big changes before this last practice and this thing is on rails. It is fast. We were third-fastest in final practice, only eight hundredths behind the top of the board. Frankly, I think I could have hit a better lap than I even did, so I’m feeling really good about this. I think we’ll be able to keep the leader in our sites for the whole 24 hours; maybe even be the leader … We’ll see. But for sure, in the last two hours. I think we can really get after it and bring it home. I’m feeling really good about the Change Racing Monster Energy Forza Motorsports Xbox Lamborghini Huracan."

As for the varying conditions throughout the race, Grala is very confident in his night racing abilities, but isn't nearly as excited about the prospect of rain racing tomorrow.

"I’m not quite as confident in those conditions as I wish I was. Unfortunately, coming from the NASCAR side, we don’t do a whole lot of that."

Full-time NASCAR ride

On the NASCAR side, he thinks 2017 could be a career season for him with GMS Racing. Last year, he competed in nine events, scoring three top tens, but as he notes, circumstances precluded him from posting even better results.

"We were in the top ten in every single race we ran, all nine of them. But a lot of them has circumstances with bad luck," he explained. "We had a lot of speed all year long and this year, I have Jerry Baxter on top of the box. No one can call a better race than he can."

This is a time of change for NASCAR. In 2016, the playoff format was introduced to the Xfinity and Truck Series. Now there's a new entitlement sponsor for Cup in Monster Energy (which is also backing Grala this weekend), and an all new race format for the three top divisions.

"I think it’s going to make the race more exciting," Grala said of the new format. "You’re going to have to drive every single lap like it’s the last lap. I think a lot of the drivers in the Truck Series already did drive every lap like the last lap because they’re shorter races. But I can tell you as a fan of the sport myself, watching the Cup races on Sunday, I’m really excited to see how this stage format plays out for them."

Along with competing in this weekend's Rolex 24 and the Truck opener at Daytona, Grala will have a third opportunity to score a DIS victory in the ARCA race in February.

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