Kaz Grala Wins at Road America in Second-Career Trans Am Series Start
July 2, 2022
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (July 2, 2022) ? Kaz Grala finished what he started last weekend, winning the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli TA class race at Road America from the pole in only his second-career series start. After mechanical issues at Mid-Ohio took him out of contention while running up front in his series debut, Grala dominated from green flag to checkers at Road America, leading every lap to take the trophy in Round 8 of the Trans Am season.
For the second weekend in a row, Grala earned the Motul Pole Award and set a new track record, leading the field to green in his No. 2 Technique Chassis/STEEL-IT/Weaver Dodge Challenger. Grala quickly pulled ahead at the start, attempting to put distance between himself and the field of cars behind him. At the end of lap one, second-place Chris Dyson in the No. 20 ALTWELL Ford Mustang was displayed the black flag for jumping the start, forcing him to make a pass-through penalty on pit road. This dropped Dyson down to the 11th position and allowed Grala to put an even larger gap between himself and Paul Menard in the No. 5 Franklin Road Apparel/Menards Camaro, who moved into second.
Grala was able to maintain his lead, despite losing his gap on the field twice due to full-course cautions, and he continued to hold back Menard and third-place Thomas Merrill in the No. 21 allgram Mustang. The black flag would not stop Dyson from contending for the win, as by lap 17, the defending champion had picked off the cars in his path, working his way back past everyone but Grala, taking over the second position and setting his sights on the leader. However, Dyson was unable to reach Grala, and with just two laps remaining, Menard fought his way past Dyson once again, taking over second place. With rain beginning to fall on the racetrack, the last two laps were precarious, and the drivers delicately made their way around the 4.048-mile road course for the final circuits. The rain was heavy by the time the checkered flag waved, with Grala earning the win, followed by Menard and Dyson. Merrill finished fourth, and Grala’s teammate Boris Said in the No. 79 ECC/Anchor Bolt and Screw/Weaver Dodge Challenger finished fifth. Cliff Ebben in the No. 36 McMahon Group/Stumpf Ford/Lamers Racing Ford Mustang was the Masters Award winner for the TA class.
“That race really threw a little bit of everything at us,” said Grala on the podium. “We had restarts, we had dry conditions, we had wet conditions; it was great. I’m really excited for Pancho Weaver and our sponsors Technique Chassis and STEEL-IT to be able to put this car in Victory Lane. Last week, we had a chance to win and we ended up having a mechanical issue take us out, so to be able to come back here, get redemption, and be able to put these guys in Victory Lane was really special. These Trans Am cars are awesome, they are so much fun and so fast. I hope I get to run some more of these this year.”
“We had a fun race, it’s always fun driving these cars,” said Menard. “I’ve driven a lot of different types of racecars, and besides ice racing, these are tops. These Trans Am cars are the best things on asphalt. It’s always great to come to Road America, I’ve got a lot of fond memories from when I was a kid. We fought through some adversity this weekend, for sure. We lost a little bit of practice time and kind of used qualifying as a test and tune session. We made some good adjustments, and the Franklin Road Apparel/Menards Chevy was a lot quicker today. I thought we were a little bit better than Kaz on a longer run, but those cautions kept coming out. Showtime Motorsports has a really great platform, and when the rain started coming down, it was like ice racing again. Just a lot of fun.”
“Well, today was a long day,” said Dyson. “We raced the NASCAR Xfinity Series race right before the Trans Am race, so I had to get ready and ramped up for this race. We had an unfortunate penalty against us at the start and I had to do a drive-through penalty, so we had to start really rolling from the back. Fortunately, the car was flying. The ALTWELL Mustang was absolutely brilliant to drive. We set the fastest lap, caught back up, and we got another shot at the win with the yellows. I think things would have been a little different without the penalty and the weather conditions. I think we would have been right up there with Kaz fighting until the end. Paul and Kaz put on a great race and we had a great battle throughout, so this is Trans Am racing at its best. You saw us all bring it home despite the challenging conditions, and we gained some valuable championship points. We’re going to carry that momentum with us to Watkins Glen.”
The XGT battle saw a late-race pass for the lead, with Randy Hale in the No. 31 Hale Propeller Corvette leading the class for much of the race, despite losing his hood early on. Even though the loss gave him a vibration at high speeds, it appeared he would cruise to victory. Unfortunately, he hit the slick paint, wet from rain, on the track coming out of Canada Corner, which caused him to spin. This allowed Danny Lowry in the No. 42 BridgeHaul/Bennett International/Pitboxes Audi R8 LMS to drive by, earning the class victory.
“This was the first time for me in that car, so I’m kind of trying to figure out how to drive it,” said Lowry. “Randy was clearly faster than I was, but he got in a little bit of trouble. When it started raining, this Audi had an advantage, because I had a little bit of help with traction control. I was able to get around him and everything turned out my way.”
The SGT class was exciting as well, with Cindi Lux in the No. 45 Lux Performance Group Dodge Viper leading the way early on, only to be passed by Aaron Pierce in the No. 26 LSI Inc./Sam Pierce Chevrolet Corvette on lap eight. Lux fought back though, taking the lead back as the laps wound down to earn the class victory. Lux’s teammate Dirk Leuenberger in the No. 35 Lux Performance Group Dodge Viper ended up in the second position, followed by Milton Grant in the No. 55 Sentry Self Storage/Springhill Suites Porsche 991.1. Grant earned the Masters Award for the SGT class, and Cindi Lux was awarded the ChillOut Keep Cool Move of the Race.
“What can you expect, we’re from the Pacific Northwest and it rains every day out there,” said Lux with a laugh. “It was starting to rain, and I was just trying to do my due diligence out there. I had a great race here and had a great time. It’s raining, it’s fun, and it’s a beautiful racetrack. Congratulations to all the other winners. Let’s rock on and get to the next event. We’re ready.”
The broadcast of today’s race, presented by Franklin Road Apparel, will air on CBS Sports Network on Saturday, July 9 at 2 p.m. ET, with an encore presentation on Sunday, July 10 at 10 p.m. ET.
TA returns to the track September 7-11 at Watkins Glen International.
Full race results can be found here.