JGL Racing is making a big switch in the offseason, hoping to move up in the NASCAR ranks in the Xfinity Series after a step back at the end of 2017.
The 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series season did not end how JGL Racing would have liked it to. Starting the year with one full-time and one part-time team, the year ended with no drivers in the playoffs and one of their teams folding mid-season. Hoping to turn things around for 2018, the team will make wholesale changes, including their manufacturer and driver.
JGL Racing announced on Friday that the team will switch from Toyota to Ford in 2018, becoming affiliated with Roush-Fenway Racing. In addition, Kaz Grala will join the team from GMS Racing in the Camping World Truck Series, running for the 2018 Xfinity Series championship in the #24 Ford. Grala, who competed for the Truck Series title in 2017, earned his first and so far only win at the national level at Daytona in February.
James Whitener, owner of JGL Racing, has this to say about the upcoming changes at his team:
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"“These are exciting times for the JGL Racing organization. We appreciate the support we have received from Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing over the last few years. We felt that in order for our team to make the next step in our growth process that we needed a more robust technical alliance behind us – and this opportunity with Ford Performance and Roush Fenway Racing provided us that and made the most sense. We look forward to finishing out the season in our No. 24 car and then we will turn our attention to 2018 and getting all of the proper pieces into place.”"
In 2017, the team fielded a full-time effort for Dakoda Armstrong before shutting down the team when sponsor WinField missed multiple payments. The #24 Toyota was also fielded with multiple drivers, including Scott Lagasse Jr., Jeb Burton, Dylan Lupton, and Corey LaJoie. No word yet if the team will field only one car or add a second car, either part or full-time.
New team driver Kaz Grala echoed much of the excitement of his new owner:
"“Roush Fenway Racing is obviously a very successful organization, and I think the relationship with them will be extremely beneficial to myself and JGL Racing. Plus, I am from Boston, so the alliance feels right at home for me. Ford’s enthusiasm and aggression for building the best program possible is exciting to me, and I can’t wait to be a part of the Ford family next year.”"
The Roush-Fenway alliance for JGL Racing could prove fruitful, as similar affiliations have worked well for other teams. Kaulig Racing was a near instant success with Blake Koch thanks in part to a partnership with Richard Childress Racing. The team could also provide an opportunity for other young Ford racers to race, such as Chase Briscoe, Dalton Sargeant, or Ty Majeski.
Do you think JGL Racing’s fortunes will improve in 2018 with the support of Ford and Roush-Fenway Racing? Will Kaz Grala find success in his rookie year in the Xfinity Series?