Kaulig Racing has aspirations of racing in the NASCAR Cup Series on a full-time basis. While a specific season for that plan to be set in motion is unknown, they will at least get some track time in 2021. On Thursday, the team announced they will run the superspeedway and road course races on the 2021 Cup Series calendar, including the Daytona 500. A driver and number were not revealed.
“Kaulig Racing is always building toward the future and I believe this is the next step in that process,” team owner Matt Kaulig stated. “We have the ultimate goal of becoming a powerhouse team in the Cup Series, and we are excited to continue our team’s growth.”
Since 2016, Kaulig has raced in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where they have become a regular contender for wins and championships. In 2020, Justin Haley reached the Championship Round with a three-win campaign that ended in a third-place points finish, while team-mate Ross Chastain was the only Xfinity driver to finish every race as he led the series in top tens with twenty-seven. Part-time driver A.J. Allmendinger won two races in eleven starts.
While Chastain moves up to the Cup Series with Chip Ganassi Racing for 2021, Haley will return to Kaulig and the #11. Allmendinger elevates to a full schedule in the #16, while Jeb Burton joins the team in the #10. It will be Kaulig’s first season with three full-time cars.
In addition to their Xfinity exploits, Kaulig débuted their Cup team in the 2020 Daytona 500 with Haley. Haley, who scored a surprise win at Daytona in the previous year’s July race, piloted the #16 to a thirteenth-place finish.
“From where we started in a go-kart shop to a now championship-contending team, I have seen the growth of Kaulig Racing first-hand over the last 5 years,” commented team president Chris Rice. “It has been a privilege to be able to have Matt Kaulig’s trust in establishing ourselves as a competitive team in one of NASCAR’s top series, and I am confident we are ready to take that next step as an organization.”
With superspeedways and road courses on Kaulig’s calendar, the 2021 schedule will provide plenty of opportunities. Compared to just six such races in 2020 (though the Sonoma and Watkins Glen road races were cancelled due to COVID-19), 2021 will have eleven in total: superspeedways Daytona and Talladega have two races each, while the Cup Series will visit seven road courses. Assuming no schedule changes, the road course events on Kaulig’s plate will be at the Daytona road course, Circuit of the Americas, Sonoma, Road America, Watkins Glen, the Indianapolis road course, and the Charlotte Roval. While COTA is a new addition for NASCAR as a whole, all but Sonoma also host Xfinity races.
Although the team did not immediately reveal a number nor driver for 2021, they will likely use #16 again. Haley has proven to know his way around superspeedways as all three of his Xfinity wins have come at Daytona or Talladega, while Allmendinger is a longtime road course expert who won at the Charlotte Roval in 2020 and raced full time in the Cup Series from 2007 to 2018 with a win at The Glen in 2014.