Kaz Grala will attempt the 63rd annual Daytona 500 with Kaulig Racing to kick off the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) season.
The team recently announced it would attempt a limited NCS schedule in 2021, which will include the Daytona 500, as well as select road course and superspeedway events. Grala, the youngest winner ever at Daytona International Speedway (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, 2017), is set to run several of those events for Kaulig Racing.
“This is a huge opportunity for me both personally and professionally,” said Grala. “I’ve grown up dreaming of reaching the NASCAR Cup Series, so it will be really special to get more chances to race against my heroes, with Kaulig Racing being the perfect team to take that next step with. I can’t thank Matt Kaulig and Chris Rice enough for trusting me in their Cup program, as well as RCR for helping shape my career the past couple seasons. I have already worked with many of the Kaulig team members before, so hopefully that will help us hit the ground running next month. Bring on the DAYTONA 500!”
Grala, who made one NCS attempt in 2020 at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course, where he finished 7th, recorded the best finish during a NCS debut since 1998. Grala is only one of two drivers to record a top-10 finish in all three of NASCAR’s National Series in 2020.
Out of 32 NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) starts from 2018-2020, Grala has recorded nine top-10 and four top-five finishes. He scored a top-five finish in his NXS debut at Daytona International Speedway, and has finished in the top five in two out of his three superspeedway events in the series.
“We’re super excited to have Kaz join our team in 2021, and we can’t wait to get started with him at Daytona,” said Chris Rice, President of Kaulig Racing. “He has had some great success in different series and layouts at Daytona, so we think he will be a great addition to our team beginning with the Daytona 500.”
The 63rd annual Daytona 500 will take place on Sunday, February 14, where Grala will pilot the No. 16 Camaro ZL1 1LE for Kaulig Racing’s second-ever NCS race. Information on additional events and partners will come at a later date.
With all this said, what is the Daytona 500 looking like? We know we have 36 charter cars that will be guaranteed to make the field for the Feb. 14 race. But, what about the open cars?
David Ragan will be in the No. 36 Ford for FRM for a second straight year. Preece in the 37 is another open car barring them finding a Charter for it. Chad Finchum and Timmy Hill appear to be back in the MBM entries. Beard Motorsports appears to be coming back but with Brendan Gaughan retiring, the rumor is Noah Gragson may get a seat in the ‘500 in this No. 62 Chevrolet. Then you have this Kaulig news.
That gets us to six open cars to take us to 43 entries again. I don’t think it stops there though. Penske could bring out a fourth car for Austin Cindric for the ‘500. We know they’re going to do so for select races already and the Daytona 500 would be a great start. You also have the NY Racing team that is rumored to have an interest in a Daytona 500 and possibly a full season program. Then you have the Gaunt Brothers’ No. 96 Toyota. I haven’t heard of them closing down.
That’s four more open cars to get us up to 9 to carry us to 45 cars for the Daytona 500. There’s then rumors about a few more teams that could show up too which could propel us to even more.