Each time Oregon’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series Driver Gracin Raz took to the track in 2016, he was considered one of the front runners. Despite facing equipment adversity in several races, Raz landed an impressive 10 top 5 and 13 top 10 finishes; a record of consistency that enabled him to land another top five overall series finish within the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
“This year was definitely about keeping our chin up,” said Raz. “The entire Jefferson Pitts Racing team worked hard to give me a fast car and as a team, we became stronger and better each race. While there is no doubt I wanted to be a championship contender heading into the last race of the season like I was in ’15, I wanted most to bring home the title for my team that ultimately deserves this level of recognition.”
While Raz works to finalize plans for 2017, one thing is for certain, he is an up and coming driver to watch.
When NASCAR fans think about drivers from the Northwest, names like Greg Biffle and Kacey Kahne
are often what come to mind as both hail from the State of Washington. Oregonians now have their own driver to root for; he is 19-year old Gracin Raz from Lake Oswego and on August 27, Raz will race in his home state at the Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg.
Raz began racing the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West in 2015 and is the youngest driver from the State of Oregon to win a race in this series. After mechanical issues challenged the start of his season, Raz has been on an aggressive path forward and finished inside the top five the last six races.
As a first generation race car driver, Raz got his start in racing with the Portland Quarter Midget Racing Association in Portland where he took his first lap in a race car the month before he turned 6 years old. He has not raced in Oregon since 2012 and is excited NASCAR chose to bring the series back to the Douglas County Speedway this year; the first time since 2010.
“Being able to race in my home state has been one of the things I’ve felt most excited about this season,” said Raz. “The west series is deep with talented drivers and not only will Oregonians get to experience an amazing race, I personally can’t wait to race in front of what I am sure will be packed grandstands.”
Raz, backed by Montana Tech and Trinity Energy, will be driving the No. 27 Montana Tech Ford with Jefferson Pitts Racing; racing activities at the Douglas County Speedway are expected to begin at 5pm PST.
Raz closed out his quarter midget career in 2012 at the Winter Nationals in Las Vegas.
After finishing second in the fourth leg of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West in San Bernardnio, Raz left no doubt in Colorado about his determination to overcome the bad luck that hit him earlier in the season. After qualifying P5, Raz worked himself up to P2 where he battled door to door with the No. 50 for the lead. After a yellow with just a few laps to go, Raz dropped back to P3 on the final restart of the race where he continued to contend for the win in one of the most exciting finishes of the series yet.
“Our car needed a bit more drive off tonight, but in the end we are very pleased to land another top three finish,” said Raz. “With some of the issues we faced out of the gates this season with equipment and general bad luck, it is a great feeling to feel like we’re heading in the right direction. The entire team at Jefferson Pitts Racing works really hard and they believe in what we can do together; my job is to ensure we do what we need on track.” Hear Gracin’s Post Race Interview on NBCSN
Off track Raz’s circle of strong partners continued to show their support as more than 25 people from Montana’s No. 1 public university Montana Tech, and the leader in snubbing operations Trinity Energy attended Saturday’s race. Despite a two hour rain delay, several guests elected to wait out the rain to ensure they saw Raz in action. Montana Tech’s mascot Charlie the Oredigger also made a surprise appearance and proved to be a fan favorite. The race will be televised on Thursday, June 16 at 6pm EST on NBCSN.
Raz heads to the first road course race for the west in Sonoma, CA in two weeks, an event that will likely prove to be a game changer in the points series where Raz is currently is sitting fifth and showing no signs of slowing down.
Members of the Montana Tech Alumni Association are heading to Dacono, Colorado June 11 to cheer on their No. 27 Montana Tech Ford and Driver Gracin Raz in the fifth race of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. Expected to join Montana Tech are executives with Trinity Energy, who were instrumental in facilitating the relationship between Raz and Montana Tech in what has proven to be a powerful partnership.
After qualifying third out of approximately 35 cars at the Evergreen Speedway this past weekend in his super late model prior to the race being called for rain, Raz is looking to build on his strong second place finish at the Orange Show Speedway on May 21 in Colorado.
“This will be my second run at the Colorado National Speedway and with the momentum the JPR Team has currently, my confidence for another strong run could not be higher,” said Raz.
Raz was recently named as the 16th of 51 drivers selected through Speed51’s 2016 Short Track Draft. Speed51’s process included 37 short track insiders, including members of the media, team and driver development professionals, track and series promoters and officials, product and industry representatives, NASCAR National Series drivers, crew members and more. Voters were able to select as few as 10 and as many as 51 drivers on their ballot, ranked in order that they would choose the drivers to compete for their Driver Development team in the top levels of the sport. In addition to Raz’s strong results on track, he was identified as being “cut from a mold that would make any sponsor pleased.”
After 38 years, NASCAR returned to the Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, CA last weekend where approximately 5,000 people watched the historic return of a NASCAR touring series. Included in the stands were several guests and alumni members of Montana’s top public university Montana Tech, who came to watch their No. 27 Montana Tech Ford Fusion in action, driven by Gracin Raz.
After having equipment issues challenge his results in previous races this year, Raz did not hold back on delivering for the loyal Orediggers as he battled to a second place finish among a highly competitive field of great talent.
“Many of our guests and Montana Tech alumni members have never attended a NASCAR race and I could not have been more excited to be there at the end for them,” said Raz. “Montana Tech is deeply proud of their university and to race on their behalf is something I could not be more honored to do. They want me to win as much as I want to win for them; the entire JPR Team and I will continue to do all that we can to ensure the No. 27 Montana Tech Ford Fusion finishes up front.”
Raz will get behind the wheel of his super late model this coming weekend where he will race what is expected to be one of the largest super late model races in Northwest at the Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, WA. The next leg of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series will be in Dacono, CO on June 11, where Montana Tech will be hosting another alumni event to watch Raz in action.