Shock loading is a complex phenomenon that can lead to failure mechanisms such as strain localization, void nucleation and growth, and eventually spall fracture. Studying incipient stages of spall damage is of paramount importance to accurately determine initiation sites in the material microstructure where damage will nucleate and grow and to formulate continuum models that account for the variability of the damage process due to microstructural heterogeneity. The length scale of damage with respect to that of the surrounding microstructure has proven to be a key aspect in determining sites of failure initiation. Correlations have been found between the damage sites and the surrounding microstructure to determine the preferred sites of spall damage, since it tends to localize at and around the regions of intrinsic defects such as grain boundaries and triple points. However, considerable amount of work still has to be done in this regard to determine the physics driving the damage at these intrinsic weak sites in the microstructure. The main focus of this research work is to understand the physical mechanisms behind the damage localization at these preferred sites. A crystal plasticity constitutive model is implemented with different damage criteria to study the effects of stress concentration and strain localization at the grain boundaries. A cohesive zone modeling technique is used to include the intrinsic strength of the grain boundaries in the simulations. The constitutive model is verified using single elements tests, calibrated using single crystal impact experiments and validated using bicrystal and multicrystal impact experiments. The results indicate that strain localization is the predominant driving force for damage initiation and evolution. The microstructural effects on theses damage sites are studied to attribute the extent of damage to microstructural features such as grain orientation, misorientation, Taylor factor and the grain boundary planes. The finite element simulations show good correlation with the experimental results and can be used as the preliminary step in developing accurate probabilistic models for damage nucleation.