NASCAR Silly Season started early this year, and the game of musical chairs is just about set for the 2024 season. However, a couple of big questions remain: Who will pilot the No. 10 car for Stewart-Haas Racing, and who will be in the No. 16 car for Kaulig Racing?
While we are still awaiting the official answer to both of these questions, A.J. Allmendinger, the current driver of the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 explained on The Bullring on Racing America, which dropped on Wednesday evening, that if he had his preference, he would be back in the NASCAR Cup Series full-time in 2024, but that he is fully at the mercy of whatever his team needs him to do.
“I’d preferably love to keep building the Cup program,” Allmendinger explained. “That’s my first choice. But Matt and Chris, I’ve told them since day one, especially as I went full-time in 2021 back in the Xfinity Series and what we’ve done over the last three years full-time racing, that I’m always going to do what they ask because they have given me more opportunities, and allowed my dreams to come true by kissing the bricks twice at Indy, winning two more Cup races, winning on ovals. When I ended what I thought was my full-time racing career in 2018, I had three wins in NASCAR. I think now I’m at 20 or something like that, and I’ve gotten to kiss the bricks. The point of that is I’m always going to do what they ask.”
According to Allmendinger, running the NASCAR Cup Series full-time takes a lot of money (not breaking news), and Kaulig Racing is attempting to find money for it’s No. 16 entry. That unfortunately could result in Allmendinger heading back to the NASCAR Xfinity Series full-time next season.
“Part of this sport, unfortunately, is that it takes a lot of money. That’s what they’re searching for,” Allmendinger admitted. “I’d love to be a part of the Cup side of it.”
While it’s sad to see Allmendinger, who has won a NASCAR Cup Series event in two of the last three seasons, potentially out of the NASCAR Cup Series full-time in 2024, the 41-year-old says even if he doesn’t return to Cup for the full schedule next season that he will run a part-time schedule in the series.
“I’m still going to race Cup next year, no matter what,” Allmendinger revealed. “Whether it’s on a part-time basis, the road course races or we do more races. I think people saw the emotion and thought, ‘Man, this may be the last time he races Cup this year,’ no, that’s not it. It’s the emotion was just real because it was a Cup win. I’m always going to do what they want, and we’re working on those plans. They may already have them lined up, and I just don’t know yet. I’m going to be in a Kaulig Racing Chevy for the rest of my career for however long that is, and I hope it’s for a long, long time.”
"I'm going to be in a Kaulig Racing Chevy for the rest of my career for however long that is,"
— Racing America (@RacingAmerica) October 12, 2023
Kaulig Racing has entered a third part-time entry, the No. 13, in five events this season with Chandler Smith as the driver in four attempts and Jonathan Davenport in the Bristol Dirt race.
If the team moves Allmendinger back to the NASCAR Xfinity Series full-time in 2024, it sounds like we very well could see him as the driver of that third part-time Kaulig entry.