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Sunday, November 27, 2022
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Kaulig Racing Elevates AJ Allmendinger to Full-Time NASCAR Cup in 2023, Chandler Smith Takes Over No. 16 Xfinity Car

AJ Allmendinger 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Kaulig Racing
AJ Allmendinger will officially move to Kaulig Racing’s No. 16 car in the NASCAR Cup Series for the full 2023 schedule. Photo credit: Sean Gardner / Getty Images

During their fan appreciation event at their race shop on Wednesday, Kaulig Racing formally announced that AJ Allmendinger, who has won the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular-season championship the past two seasons, will move to the organization’s No. 16 Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR Cup Series full-time in 2023.

“I have the honor of actually officially welcoming AJ, and officially announcing that AJ Allmendinger will officially be running full-time Cup in the No. 16 car next year,” Team owner Matt Kaulig said. “Super excited. AJ is unbelievable as a race car driver like Chris was saying. He has proven that he is one of the best in the world at every type of track. Short tracks, superspeedways, road courses, the mile-and-a-halfs, he’s won on all of them.”

This confirms a report from The Athletic, which broke the news of Allmendinger’s return to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2023 on Monday.

According to Chris Rice, president of Kaulig Racing, Allmendinger’s NASCAR Cup Series deal is multi-year and Allmendinger is welcome to race for the organization as long as he wants.

Allmendinger, who had moved on from full-time racing in the sport several years ago, changed his tune and moved to full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series racing in 2021 due to his growing love for the Kaulig Racing organization.

“As 2020 hit and we started to do more races, I really started to realize when I’m not at the racetrack, ‘Wow, I miss these guys.’ And Chris and Matt know because I would blow their phone up watching them every weekend, letting them know what they were doing wrong,” Allmendinger said. “But that was the thing I kept noticing, the feeling wasn’t going away. It was getting worse.”

Now, Allmendinger heads back to full-time NASCAR Cup Series racing.

The native of Los Gatos, California vows to retire as a driver at Kaulig Racing and he stated that he hopes to remain with the organization long after his driving days are finished.

Allmendinger will join forces with Justin Haley, who will once again pilot Kaulig Racing’s No. 31 entry full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series.

The 40-year-old Allmendinger has two-career wins in NASCAR Cup Series competition, including Kaulig Racing’s first-ever win in the series in 2021 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.

Here is the video of the official announcement from Kaulig Racing’s fan appreciation event:

While Allmendinger, who hasn’t run a full-time NASCAR Cup Series schedule since 2018, is an instant threat at the Playoffs due to his incredible road course racing acumen, he also poses a threat at nearly every type of track as he has grown his craft with Kaulig Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series over the last four seasons.

Since joining Kaulig Racing in 2019, Allmendinger has amassed 12 NASCAR Xfinity Series victories and a NASCAR Cup Series win, eight of those wins have come at road courses. However, Allmendinger has also scored wins at short tracks, intermediate ovals, speedways, and now, with his win at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend, superspeedways.

While Allmendinger completes the puzzle for the team’s driver roster in the NASCAR Cup Series, that opened a massive spot for someone to fill in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Sliding into the No. 16 Kaulig Racing entry in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for the 2023 season will be Chandler Smith, who has been driving full-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series the last two seasons.

For Smith, 20, he had a lot of options to weigh when Kyle Busch announced a move from Toyota to Chevrolet for the 2023 season. And when Smith saw what Kaulig Racing brought to the table on the racetrack, and more importantly off the racetrack, he knew the decision was simple.

“I’m really excited. Been talking to Chris for a few weeks and linked up with Matt too. This place already feels like home,” Smith explained. “I’ve been up here a handful of times. I love this organization and one thing that really stands out to me is just family. This feels super family-oriented and that’s what means a lot to me as a driver. I had a lot of different choices at the end of the day, but it was very clear that this was the right one.”

Smith has five-career victories in the NCWTS. Smith made his first two starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series earlier this season with Sam Hunt Racing, finishing 38th and 21st respectively at Talladega and Dover.

Landon Cassill will return to the organization for the 2023 season in the No. 10 entry, and the team hopes to bring Daniel Hemric back to their No. 11 entry but is currently ironing all of those details out.

Toby Christie
Toby Christiehttps://tobychristie.com
Toby is the Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of TobyChristie.com. Toby is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, he is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award-winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

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