Kaulig Racing has elected to have Derek Kraus, a part-time competitor in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, practice and qualify the No. 16 Chevrolet Camaro in Saturday’s on-track sessions from Richmond Raceway.
Even though Saturday’s 20-minute practice session will mark the first physical on-track laps for Kraus in a NASCAR Cup Series entry, there will be a sense of familiarity for the 21-year-old driver, who performs much of Kaulig Racing’s simulator work.
AJ Allmendinger, the full-time driver of the No. 16 Chevrolet Camaro, will not be present at Richmond Raceway on Saturday, as he instead competes for Kaulig Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Road America.
Regardless of the effort put together by Kraus on Saturday, Allmendinger will be forced to start Sunday’s Cook Out 400 at the rear of the field, without a single lap around the three-quarter-mile facility.
Earlier this year at Richmond, Allmendinger came home in 27th, one lap down, while his Kaulig Racing teammates Chandler Smith and Justin Haley finished 17th and 29th, respectively.
With just five regular-season events remaining, Allmendinger sits 17th in NASCAR Cup Series point standings, only 17 markers below Michael McDowell, when it comes to the battle for the final spot in the postseason.
So, why take a risk of this nature with the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs so close?
“At the end of the day, it’s about enjoying what we’re doing and this is part of it,” Allmendinger told Bob Pockrass of FOX Sports. “Some people won’t understand it, but at the end of the day, we don’t care. This is what we want to do.”