First generation driver Gracin Raz leans in to every lap with his team at his side to advance their shared vision of success. The “Never Doubt” video captures images and video footage from the team’s 2014 season, and showcases their passion, unity, and commitment to keep digging.
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.”
After qualifying 3rd in just his second super late model race the #15 Gracin Raz took an early lead of an impressive field of drivers competing in the Montana Gold 212 this past weekend. Raz remained in command for more than 45 laps before Gary Lewis took over the lead where the two continued to battle it out for several laps. Near lap 110, Raz’s engine developed a mis-fire that dropped power and ultimately required him to pull off early in the second half.
“My team provided me with an amazing car that enabled us to turn the fastest laps of the night before we had equipment issues,” said Gracin. “While we’re disappointed we didn’t get to see how things could have finished off, it was a highlight to run upfront and door-to-door with veterans like Lewis, Gomez and Garber; we also gained a lot of knowledge in prep for the Montana 200 in July.”
Seasoned SLM driver Brian Leptich described what Gracin accomplished as remarkable. “You just don’t go to that track for your first time, let alone the second time you’ve raced a SLM, qualify in the top 3 and then turn around and run upfront with veterans like Raz did.” said Leptich. “Gracin and Team GDR have a lot of celebrate despite their equipment issues.”
Team GDR strengthened their overall strategy for the Montana Gold 212 with support from veteran Jeff Jefferson. “Mr. Jefferson helped me become a mentally stronger and smarter driver, and he taught me the ins and outs of the track,” said Gracin. “He was a great partner to work with and my entire team more than valued and appreciated the time he extended to us. We look forward to working with him again in the future.”
Raz will be competing at the Coors Light Summer Showdown at the Evergreen Speedway June 27-28 before he heads back to the Montana Raceway Park for The Montana 200 on July 17-19.