Fresh off driver Kaz Grala’s sixth-place finish in the Geico 500, Kaulig Racing has unveiled major plans for the future. Team owner Matt Kaulig announced on Wednesday that the team will pursue a full-time NASCAR Cup Series schedule in 2022.
Kaulig made the comments during an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The team has made four Cup Series starts, with Grala’s outing at Talladega serving as the best result. Kaulig Racing also fields three full-time Xfinity Series cars with Justin Haley, Jeb Burton, and AJ Allmendinger as the drivers.
“We’re going full-time Cup racing next year,” Kaulig said, according to NASCAR. He also indicated that the team had purchased another race shop in Welcome, North Carolina, in order to better set up the organization for the expansion. “We’ll have one car. We’ll have at least one car, let’s put it that way. So that’s definitely a done deal. We’re super-excited about that. That’s the reason we’re running … we’ll run 10 or 11 Cup races this year, and man, we’re already three in.”
Kaulig Racing has Cup Series experience with its current drivers
Making the transition from Xfinity to Cup is not a simple feat, but Kaulig Racing has some drivers in its stable that can help make the transition easier. Jeb Burton, who scored an inspirational win in Saturday’s AG-Pro 300 at Talladega, has 33 Cup starts on his resume. He never broke the top 10 while competing with underfunded teams, but he has logged nearly 9,000 laps.
Similarly, Allmendinger has 372 Cup Series starts on his resume. He has eight seasons in which he competed in all 36 races, as well as several others with numerous starts. Allmendinger has experienced success during his 14 years in Cup, winning one race and posting 11 top-five finishes. His most recent start in the top series was a seventh-place finish at the Daytona Road Course.
Of the three full-time drivers in the Kaulig stable, Haley has the fewest starts in the Cup Series. He has only competed in 13 races over three seasons, but he reached Victory Lane in 2019. He won the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway while driving for Spire Motorsports. This win was his only top-10 finish in the Cup Series.
Grala is a part-time driver in both the Xfinity Series and Cup Series with 35 combined starts on his resume. He has three starts in the top series with two top-10 finishes. His remaining 32 races were all in the Xfinity Series with four top-fives. Grala will continue to compete in the Cup Series on a part-time schedule for the remainder of the 2021 season.
The move to Cup racing coincides with another major change
When Kaulig Racing heads to Daytona International Speedway for the first race of the 2022 season, the team will roll a brand-new vehicle out of the hauler. NASCAR will move to the next gen car next season, one that enhances driver safety and decreases costs for the respective teams.
There will be several changes with the new vehicle, including the move to a single lug nut on each tire and the introduction of a six-speed sequential gearbox instead of the tradition four-speed. Finally, the next gen car will move the driver closer to the center of the body in order to enhance safety.
“In my opinion, the importance of this car can’t be overstated,” NASCAR president Steve Phelps said about the new car, per Motorsport.com. “There are many things that Next Gen will do for us as a sport when it rolls out in 2022. The styling is going to be amazing. I think the racing is going to be better based on the aerodynamics of the vehicle.
“The costs associated with the vehicle will be lower in terms of its absolute cost as well as the number of cars that will be necessary to run and run up front,” Phelps continued. “Those are all wins for us. I believe new OEMs and the relevance of this sport, where this sport now ranks within the sports entertainment landscape, is different than it was a year ago, two years ago, three years ago. With that, as well as the Next Gen car coming out next year, I think there’s going to be some renewed interest from an OEM perspective.”
The next gen car remains under wraps until the big reveal. NASCAR will unveil the next generation of racing on May 5 with a special ceremony. All three primary OEM’s — Toyota, Chevrolet, and Ford — will be on hand to showcase their new stock cars.
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