Friday, March 24, 2023

Justin Haley Will Carry No. 31 for Kaulig Racing in 2022

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Justin Haley was confirmed to pilot the No. 16 Camaro in 2022 for Kaulig Racing back in June, but plans have changed after Kaulig confirmed on Tuesday that the second entry with Daniel Hemric, AJ Allmendinger, and Noah Gragson would carry the number instead.

This left some confused and many questions as to what the number would be for the Indiana driver.

The question has been answered as Kaulig Racing confirmed that Haley will pilot the No. 31 Chevrolet Camaro in 2022, restoring the number back to the NASCAR Cup Series for the first time since 2019.

The No. 31 entry dates back to NASCAR’s early days in the late 1940s as a part of the “Strictly Stock” series. The car had two drivers in Sterling Long and Ben Cannaziaro.

It wasn’t until 1996 that the No. 31 would be thrown into popularity when the number became a member of the Richard Childress Racing operation. In its entire history, the number failed to see victory lane until 2001 when Robby Gordon scored his first career win at New Hampshire.

All eight wins for the number came from RCR, with Gordon, Ryan Newman, and Jeff Burton adding to its tally. Burton holds the most wins with four, and the most starts with the number at 324. However, it was Newman who almost delivered the No. 31 its first championship in 2014 in a thrilling and nerve-wracking battle with Kevin Harvick at Homestead in the first iteration of NASCAR’s Playoff format.

The number was relegated to a part-time capacity in 2019 when Tyler Reddick made two Cup starts for RCR while the second full-time entry was rebadged as the No. 8 for Hemric in his first and only full-time Cup season with RCR.

With the number’s history and Kaulig’s alliance with RCR, going as far as having buildings on the RCR campus, Kaulig becomes the perfect team to carry on the No. 31’s legacy.

2022 will mark Haley’s first full-time Cup Series season after three full-time seasons in Xfinity, with Kaulig behind the flagship No. 11 entry. With three wins, all on a superspeedway, Haley is likely to become a darkhorse favorite when the Cup Series visits Daytona and Talladega.

Haley will also enter his first full-time campaign already a Cup winner as fans will recall the chaotic finish to the 2019 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona during his time in the Spire Motorsports No. 77.

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