Kaz Krala Escapes with NextEra 250 Daytona Victory

Kaz Grala celebrates in Victory Lane. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kaz Krala Escapes with NextEra 250 Daytona Victory
Kaz Grala celebrates in Victory Lane. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

The NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona had a spectacular finish, with trucks flipping, flying and spinning on the white flag lap when a virtual unknown, 18-year old Kaz Krala, drove through the backstretch smoke to become Daytona’s youngest winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series.

It was a whirlwind kind of day for the Boston, Mass., GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado driver, who won the pole in his initial Daytona outing at 180.676 mph.  By winning, he becomes the first playoff driver for the post season in the truck series.

The race started pretty much the same way it finished – with a major crash on lap two, involving 17 trucks that suffered some sort of damage; that said, nothing could compare to the finish.

Kaz Krala Escapes with NextEra 250 Daytona Victory
Austin Cindric spins during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

With just half of a lap to go, Grant Enfinger pushed his ThorSport teammate Ben Rhodes very hard in the outside lane, up to a point where he lost control, swerving high and then low right into the leader, Matt Crafton, and taking out defending series champion Johnny Sauter and Timothy Peters.

Crafton went airborne, briefly rolling backwards and starting the melee, with trucks spinning everywhere. A clear lane opened up just long enough for Krala, Austin Wayne Self, Chase Briscoe and the father–son combination  of John Hunter Nemechek and Joe Nemechek in fourth and fifth to slip through to get back the finish line.

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 24:  Kaz Grala, driver of the #33 KiklosGreekExtraVirginOliveOil Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane by putting a winner's sticker on his truck during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway on February 24, 2017 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 24: Kaz Grala, driver of the #33 KiklosGreekExtraVirginOliveOil Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane by putting a winner’s sticker on his truck during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway on February 24, 2017 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

“That was a crazy finish to the race for sure,” said an excited Krala.  “My radio actually came unplugged towards the end of the race, so I was a little bit nervous and frantic at the end.  But I got it plugged in, thankfully, and at the very end of the race, I’m really glad I did.  My spotter Eddie D’Hondt helped me through that one big time.  I’m really happy to have been able to do that (escape the accident).

“I was just pushing Timothy Peters.  I couldn’t really see much ahead of me, but I did see stuff start to go wrong.  And I knew I wasn’t going to lift out of the throttle, so I just tugged the wheel left, crossed my fingers, closed my eyes a little bit, and I’m really glad it worked out.  That was pretty hectic at the end.  We had a little bit of luck, but we had a really fast Kiklos Chevy for sure.  That’s what it takes.  Get a fast truck to be up front, put yourself in these positions, and these kinds of things happen.  I can’t be more proud of them and happy to be able to run the whole season with these guys.  I certainly didn’t envision it going this way at all.”

Krala now has a 14-points lead in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series with his victory, followed by Johnny Sauter, the winner of the first two segments and two playoff points.  Ben Rhodes is third, Joe Nemechek is fourth and Austin Wayne Self rounds out the top five.

The next truck race will be at the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the running of the Active Pest Control 200 on Saturday, March 4 airing on FS1.

Kaz Krala Escapes with NextEra 250 Daytona Victory
Kaz Grala celebrates with a burnout. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
About Jay Wells 321 Articles
Jay Wells, 61, is a veteran motorsports public relations and marketing official. He spent 33 years at the track working with NASCAR, IndyCar, IMSA, and NHRA series' before retiring in 2009. He began writing for RacingJunk.com in September of 2013 covering the NHRA and NASCAR circuits with post race coverage along with feature and breaking news stories. Wells resides in Mooresville, North Carolina. Follow Wells on Twitter @ jaywells500.
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