Grip, or Lack Thereof Surprising for Kaz Grala at COTA

By: Ashley McCubbin

When NASCAR teams are preparing to visit a new venue, it’s easy to grow pre-conceptions of what to expect in hopeful of having the right set-up underneath their vehicle for the event.

Going into the weekend, Kaz Grala expected the track to be “pretty low-grip, high tire wear” which happened in dry conditions, allowing for a fun technical circuit. There was also the knowledge to stay off the paint as while it may look pretty for photos, it’s slippery.

However, he admits being caught off-guard once the rain began to fall.

“I was surprised with just how much grip there was in the wet,” he told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “It just must be the way the asphalt is. It’s like it has more grooves for the water, but it takes away grip in the dry. I’m not sure why that is, but it definitely makes this place unique and different.”

Grala and Young Motorsports hit it pretty close to where they should have been, as evident by a runner-up finish in Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event.

“You (just) have to figure out the little nuances of the track and where you can gain the time, where you can’t,” he commented. “I was learning all the way through that race. When I was leading, I was staying between the lines thinking that was the best and I don’t know who figured it out first, but the 38  truck (Todd Gllliland) caught me using a ton of track way outside the lines. I didn’t expect that to be as good as it was, but it was and everybody started doing that by the end.

“When it’s a brand new track, you’re learning all the way through the track. It was the same way last year at the Daytona road course and I know everybody here in the Xfinity race and Cup race will be learning all the way through, as well, but they had the benefit of watching us finding the tricks here and there. I can promise you if it is wet all day today or tomorrow, those guys are not going to hesitate use all the track outside the lines that are there.’

Ultimately, through the weekend the stars of NASCAR got to experience the track in both wet and dry conditions. Though no matter the circuit, the timing of when you change from rain tires to slick and vise versa is what’s critical when weather factors in.

“At the end the race there, if we had dry tires on the track, it would’ve been better, but there’s obviously no time to stop and get them. So that’s going to be the trick,” Grala shared. “I haven’t looked at the forecast so I don’t know if it’s going to rain again today, but being the first one to make the right call on those things can pay off hugely. Part of the benefit of today’s race without having any cautions that weren’t stage breaks, we didn’t really have to make the tire decisions at all, so we’ll see if get that in either of the other two races.”

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