StarCom Racing continues planning for the future amid reports of a charter sale. The single-car Cup Series team has announced that it will take part in the upcoming NASCAR Next Gen tests with Kaz Grala as the primary driver. Quin Houff is the primary driver for the team while Grala serves as a part-time option for Kaulig Racing.
StarCom provided the update on Friday, October 8, tweeting out that Grala will help with the development of the Next Gen program. This news created many questions considering that Catchfence reported on August 31 that StarCom had sold its charter and that Spire Motorsports was the rumored buyer. However, FOX Sports reporter Bob Pockrass clarified that StarCom could still move forward with plans for the 2022 season.
(Update: the original version of this story said that Catchfence reported Spire had purchased the charter. The report only listed Spire as the rumored buyer.)
“Amid questions of Grala testing a Next Gen car for StarCom … Still expecting StarCom to sell its charter to Spire … but obviously StarCom has infrastructure and if they can field a car, even part-time, with someone who can bring some sponsorship, wouldn’t rule it out,” Pockrass tweeted on October 8.
Sources Indicated That StarCom Already Completed the Sale
When Catchfence writer Chris Knight broke the news that StarCom would sell its charter after the 2021 season, he provided some surprising details. Specifically, he cited sources close to the situation that said the sale had already taken place.
Knight reached out to team officials about the reported sale for further clarification, but the StarCom spokesperson said that “there is nothing confirmed to report at this time.” A Spire spokesperson also responded and said that the organization had nothing new to announce.
If the sale does indeed take place, it will continue the list of moves made by Spire Motorsports. The team already sold two of its three charters to Kaulig Racing, a move that will go into effect after the championship race. Spire leased its third to Trackhouse Racing for the 2021 season, but it will get it back for 2022.
Grala Could Provide a Reliable Option for a Part-Time Schedule
The Massachusetts native in Grala has started three Cup Series races during the 2021 season, all for Kaulig. He drove the No. 16 Chevrolet Camaro in the season-opening Daytona 500 on February 14, the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 25, and the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on August 28. He crashed in both Daytona races but finished sixth overall at Talladega.
Justin Haley will take over one Kaulig Racing car on a full-time basis in 2022, but the organization has not provided information about the driver lineup of the second ride other than saying that AJ Allmendinger will make some starts. Grala could provide an option for the two-car team as someone that can continue making limited starts in the Cup Series.
Having StarCom use Grala as the test driver for the Next Gen sessions creates questions about the 2022 season. Houff told media members prior to the Pocono doubleheader in July that he had no plans for the 2022 season and that he was taking everything “week by week.” The questions about his Cup Series future only increased with the report that StarCom will sell its charter to Spire.
If the organization does indeed pursue a part-time schedule as Pockrass indicated, Grala could provide a driver option for the team. He has shown his ability to contend with other Cup Series drivers, posting two top-10s in only four starts. His first was a seventh-place run in 2020 on the Daytona Road Course. Grala also has four top-five finishes and nine top-10s in 33 career Xfinity Series starts.
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