For the first time since 2018, A.J. Allmendinger is in a full-time NASCAR seat. On Tuesday, Kaulig Racing announced Allmendinger will drive their #16 Chevrolet Camaro for the 2021 Xfinity Series season.
“As a part time driver for Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series, I have really enjoyed working with all the women and men in the organization these past two years,” said Allmendinger. “The love of showing up to NASCAR races has returned for me, and I truly have enjoyed myself on and off the racetrack. It starts with Matt Kaulig (owner) and Chris Rice (president). I can’t thank them enough for giving me a call at the start of 2019 and offering me races that continued into 2020. More than anything, I have really loved being part of the team and watching the growth of the organization, and because of that, the opportunity to come back full time in 2021 was something I just could not pass up.”
After losing his Cup Series ride at JTG Daugherty Racing at the end of the 2018 season, Allmendinger joined Kaulig for a part-time Xfinity schedule in 2019. His tenure began in bizarre fashion as he enjoyed early success but was disqualified in his first two events, followed by winning at the Charlotte Roval. He returned to the team in 2020 for twelve races; despite failing to qualify for the opener at Daytona, he won at Atlanta and in the rain at the Roval; the former marked his first victory on an oval in NASCAR.
A longtime road course expert who has raced in Champ Car, IndyCar, and IMSA, five of Allmendinger’s six NASCAR national series wins have come on such tracks. His lone Cup win came at Watkins Glen in 2014. Off the track, Allmendinger also works as an analyst for NBC’s IMSA coverage and won the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in 2012.
“Having A.J. race full-time for Kaulig Racing will only elevate our program to another level,” Rice commented. “I truly believe his veteran experience has helped us in every race he has ever run with us, and that is evident in his finishes. I’m sure he will complement our other two great drivers we already have, as he’s been a great teammate since day one. I love the challenge in front of us to go after the championship in 2021 with all three of our drivers.”
Allmendinger’s move to a full schedule means Kaulig will field three full-time cars for the first time. The team’s #11, which débuted in 2016, will once again be driven by Justin Haley in 2021, while Jeb Burton joins Kaulig in the #10. Kaulig also ran a Cup race for the first time in 2020 with Haley, and has expressed plans to continue running top-level races on a limited scale in 2021.
“Kaulig Racing has come such a long way in only a few short years,” Kaulig added. “We started this team in 2016 and have made the playoffs every year. This year we stepped up even more, and had two cars in the playoffs with one in the Championship 4 at Phoenix. With A.J. Allmendinger added to our stable, and three fantastic drivers, we will have an even better chance at the championship.”