LAKE OSWEGO, Oregon (October 20, 2015). The driver of the No. 27 Montana Tech Ford Fusion Gracin Raz executed a spectacular textbook move on the last lap of the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 at the All American Speedway in Roseville, CA over the weekend to win his first career NASCAR K&N Pro Series event.
Raz, just 18-years old from Lake Oswego, Oregon, showed his determination early to keep his team’s hunt for the championship alive by setting the pole. After dropping back early in the race, Raz powered through a strong field of drivers that led to a green-white checkered finish where he advanced from third to the win.
Partner Montana Tech was equally excited to see their No. 27 Ford Fusion cross the line first. “Like our Montana Tech students and alumni, Gracin is from ordinary, humble upbringings, who is accomplishing extraordinary feats; the way he kept digging for the win only reinforces his determination to achieve like any Oredigger,” shared Joe McClafferty, Vice Chancellor for Advancement and University Relations and President of the Montana Tech Foundation.
The unique partnership between Montana Tech and Gracin Raz Racing began in late July and has helped foster their brand awareness goals, including growth across some of their social media platforms. Based in Butte, Montana Tech is recognized as one of the top universities in the nation for graduates return on investment and produces some of the most elite and sought after graduates within the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines.
Raz, a first generation driver for Jefferson Pitts Racing also has strong ties to the State of Montana; his mother was raised on a ranch in Northeastern Montana where his grandparents reside today. As an Oregonian, Raz’s car bore a decal to honor those impacted by the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon earlier this month. He is the first driver from the State of Oregon to win a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West event since 2002 and the first to win since K&N Engineering became the title sponsor in 2010.
The Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 will be televised on NBCSN Thursday, October 22 at 7pm EST. The No. 27 Montana Tech Ford will be on track for the final race of the 2015 season at the Phoenix International Speedway November 12 where several members of the Montana Tech team and alumni are expected to be in attendance.
LAKE OSWEGO, Oregon
Gracin Raz stepped in to the No. 99 NAPA Filters Toyota for the first time on August 14 for a test run with his crew led by Duane Knorr. By the end of qualifying at the NAPA Auto Parts/Toyota 150, Raz came in fifth fastest and earned the top spot for all rookies competing.
“I came into this event with the goal of running upfront and learning as much as I could,” said Raz. “I knew Bill McAnally Racing/NAPA AutoCare Centers had provided me with great equipment and a great crew to work with. While I will always look to achieve more, I am pretty happy about the results we achieved for my first run.”
At the K&N Pro Series West Race, what was not a first for Raz during this event was his commitment to making a difference in the life of a child. Through his work with the Get UP! Foundation, Raz identifies a local child at each event he competes to help lift their hearts by spending time with the child personally when possible, and donating 10% of any earnings he achieves to the child’s family. For the NAPA Auto Parts/Toyota 150, Raz raced for 10-year old Kristen Downey currently battling Rhabdomyosarcoma.
Raz will return to the Evergreen Speedway on September 13 in his No. 15 super late model and is expected to race at least one more event for Bill McAnally Racing/NAPA AutoCare Centers prior to the end of the year.
LAKE OSWEGO, Oregon (July 30, 2014). 17-year old Gracin Raz from Lake Oswego, Oregon has signed an agreement with Bill McAnally Racing/NAPA AutoCare Centers to drive the No.99 NAPA Filters Toyota at the Evergreen Speedway on August 16 where he will race alongside some of NASCAR’s most promising drivers.
After catching the eye of veteran driver and K&N West Crew Chief Jeff Jefferson, Jefferson facilitated the deal between Raz and McAnally Racing. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with Gracin on a few occasions, and personally crewed him at the Montana Gold 212,” said Jefferson. “The Gold was just his second super late model race, yet he more than exceeded my expectations after he qualified third out of a seasoned group of drivers and led the main show before experiencing electrical issues. Gracin is adaptable, naturally talented, and has the potential to go as far as he wants in racing.”
To add to his list of accomplishments, Raz is a first generation race car driver, one of the youngest drivers from the State of Oregon to race a K&N West event, and he has no plans to slow down. “I have known since I was three years old that racing is what I wanted to do,” said Raz. “When we began our season this year, I had hoped we might have an opportunity to make an appearance at a K&N West event in 2015. Mr. Jefferson has personally invested a lot of time with me and my late model crew, and shown the type of faith in my ability that has helped me develop more than he may realize. I am more than excited – and humbled – to have this opportunity surface so soon and know how rare this opportunity is. I look forward to working with Mr. McAnally and his team!”
In addition to capturing the attention of his seasoned competitors and building a strong fan base, Gracin has leveraged his racing program to make a difference in the lives of others. In 2013, Gracin teamed up with the Get UP! Foundation, a foundation dedicated to lifting the hearts of children facing adversity, where he contributed close to $1000 to two families by donating some of his race earnings and collecting private contributions. In 2014, Gracin created the Get UP! Driver’s Program – a program where his younger brother Kole and four of his closest friends that race a variety of series across the Northwest have committed to helping children facing adversity. Raz most recently donated 10% of his earnings from the Montana 200 after qualifying second to a 15-year old Montana girl fighting bone cancer. “Knowing what I do on the track has the chance to touch the life of a child going through a hard time makes every lap that much more important to me,” said Gracin. “This opportunity helps keep things in perspective and takes my racing program to a completely different level.”
The prestigious Montana 200 held at the Montana Raceway Park in Kalispell, Montana on July 18-19, 2014 attracted 40 super late model programs from across the West Coast, including the #15 Gracin Raz from Lake Oswego, Oregon. In just his fourth super late model race, Gracin and his team set the pace early. As the first car out to qualify, Raz caught the attention of the entire field after clocking in a personal team best of 13.113 and held the poll until Owen Riddle – one of the last cars to qualify – put down a lap time of 13.106.
With Riddle and Raz locked into the front row for the main show, Raz began the 200 lap feature as planned – tucking down early and keeping tight with the leaders. After a re-start early in the race, Raz was able to move through one of the most significant pile ups the Montana 200 has seen that resulted in approximately seven cars ending their night. “While we avoided the worst of the situation, our right side picked up enough damage that we needed to pull off track for repair,” said Raz. “Regretfully, this put us down more laps than we could recover from despite being able to advance through the field and we felt giving room to drivers running on the lead lap was the right thing to do. We are getting stronger and better each time we hit the track – our time will come.”
The third annual NASCAR Summer Showdown presented by Coors Light on June 27-28, 2014 attracted 54 outstanding super late model programs to the Evergreen Speedway. #15 Gracin Raz carried forward his growing presence among the field of prestigious drivers by qualifying 12th and locking himself into the main show with an impressive third place heat race finish.
After starting the second half in 11th place, Raz lost a cylinder that required him to pull out of the race early. “Our team was naturally disappointed to not finish the Showdown, especially given how well we were running,” said Raz. “In the end, we know what we’re capable of and the overall event was an amazing experience for me and my entire team. Our time is coming. We believe in the direction we’re going and know our hard work will pay off.”