By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor
The Boston, MA native will drive the team’s No. 15 Ford Mustang Darkhouse in 25 Cup races. That pairs Grala up with fellow up and coming driver Justin Haley, who will drive the No. 51 Ford Mustang full-time. On top of the pit box for Grala will be crew chief Billy Plourde.
The 25-year-old returns to the Cup Series after a career-best season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Grala matched his best finish, fourth, at Richmond Raceway, as well as matched his single-season top-five total, earning two. He earned a career-high nine top-10 finishes in a single season.
“Kaz Grala is a talented and tenacious driver who brings a lot to our race team,” said team owner Rick Ware. “He has an incredible work ethic and leverages every opportunity to its full potential. He’s an asset inside and outside of the car who will help make our program better.
“Kaz is another crucial piece of our organization and for the same reasons we brought Justin Haley on board, we feel Kaz can also contribute immediately. Kaz wants to make a difference, and, above all, he wants to perform. That’s the kind of drive and determination all of us have at RWR.”
Grala has viewed himself as an underdog driver throughout his NASCAR career. He earned his first career victory in the 2017 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season opener at Daytona Int’l Speedway. In 2018, driving for a team co-owned by his father, Grala scored a top-five in the July Daytona race while driving a former show car.
It wasn’t until 2023 that he returned to full-time competition in the Xfinity Series after driving partial schedules for a variety of teams including Alpha Prime Racing, Big Machine Racing, and Richard Childress Racing. Grala made his Cup Series debut filling in for Austin Dillon at the Daytona road course, and earned a top-10 finish.
“I’ve found myself as an underdog at each level of NASCAR, and I feel I thrive in that position,” said Grala, who began racing go karts as a 4-year-old in Massachusetts. “It’s important to get the most out of the car on restarts and in the closing laps of a race, all while taking care of the equipment, and those are my strengths. I also like to be hands-on with the team during the week, involved in what the next step is to advance our program.”
In total, Grala has seven career Cup Series starts to date. His best finish, sixth, came in the Spring 2021 race at Talladega Superspeedway. In the Xfinity Series he has seven top-five and 19 top-10 finishes along with one victory, six top-five, and 19 top-10 finishes in the Truck Series. Grala last competed in the Cup Series in 2022.
“I’ve gotten the chance to race in the Cup Series a handful of times already, so I know how big of a jump it is from the Xfinity Series,” Grala said. “The depth of talent in Cup is steep. It really is the highest level of motorsport in the U.S., with both the quality of teams and the drivers. Last year, the Xfinity Series had a particularly deep field of fulltime competitors, so I feel like 2023 was the right year for me to gain experience ahead of this next step in my career.
“Anytime you sit in a Cup car, you have more eyes on you than at any other level. There’s more pressure, but at the same time I feel like there’s something more calming about racing on Sundays, considering I’ve been pushing to make that a reality since I was single digits in age. As a competitor, you love the idea of competing against the best of the best, so I couldn’t be more up for the challenge that’s ahead of me this year.”
In recent years RWR has expanded into other racing disciplines including Progressive American Flat Track, IMSA, NHRA, and the FIM World Supercross Championship (WSX). The team earned three wins in NHRA’s Top Fuel division with Clay Millican and two Flat Track wins with Briar Bauman. RWR riders Shane McElrath and Joey Savatgy earned wins in WSX last season, adding to McElrath’s 2022 championship.
RWR also partnered with Dale Coyne Racing in the NTT IndyCar Series in 2021 and 2022. In 2021 the team earned three podium finishes and one pole position with Romain Grosjean.
“I’ve been really impressed by RWR’s vision and the plan they’ve laid out to get where they want to be,” Grala said. “This sport is all about people, and I’ve learned that having everyone pulling in the same direction is the key to success. Every single person at RWR is a racer, and they want to prove themselves in the Cup Series just as badly as I do, so it’s a perfect fit. I’m excited to see what we’re able to accomplish together. I think we’re going to surprise some people this year.”
Grala’s first race with RWR will be the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum on Sunday, February 4, at 8:00 p.m. ET on FOX. The race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
The first points race for Grala in RWR’s No. 15 Ford Mustang will be the Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, February 25.