AJ Allmendinger will return to full-time NASCAR Cup Series competition in 2023 with Kaulig Racing.
The organization made the news official on Wednesday during its fan day event at the race shop. Allmendinger, who is currently competing for the Xfinity Series championship with Kaulig Racing, will drive the No.16 Chevrolet.
“He has proven that he is one of the best in the world at every type of track – the short tracks, the superspeedways, road courses, the mile-and-a-halfs. He’s won on all of them,” said team owner Matt Kaulig. “He’s done so much for Kaulig Racing and our program.
“All of the people here today and what we’ve built, he’s been a gigantic part of what we’re building as an organization, and he’s going to continue to do that.
“I couldn’t be more excited. He’s a great friend, he’s a great race car, he’s a great person, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him AJ in our 16 car next season along with Justin Haley in the 31.”
Allmendinger will be a teammate to Haley, who will return for his third full season in the series.
“I first called AJ [Allmendinger] in 2019 to ask if he would run a couple Xfinity Series races for us,” said Chris Rice, president of Kaulig Racing. “He agreed to do five and he was disqualified in the first two races. Although it was two tough results, AJ saw what we were trying to build here at Kaulig Racing, and better yet, he believed in what we were building.
“After the success we’ve had together since then, we think the next step is for him to help us do the same with our young Cup Series team.”
The 2023 season will be the first time since 2018 that Allmendinger has contested a full Cup season. Allmendinger was replaced at JTG Daugherty Racing at the end of that season and has been a Kaulig driver ever since. He’s made 18 starts for Kaulig in the Cup Series the last two seasons.
“When I first went to Kaulig Racing to compete part-time in 2019 and 2020, I remember how I felt on the weekends that I wasn’t racing and how much I missed it,” Allmendinger said. “Competing full-time is a mentally tough battle at times. No matter how much work you put in as a driver, there’s a chance you will not achieve success. For a while, I think I lost that competitive drive to be the best.
“Kaulig Racing helped me find that again. I now feel more competitive than ever and believe there is more success to be earned as a team.”
Allmendinger has made 389 starts in the Cup Series to date with two career wins. His victory in 2014 with JTG at Watkins Glen clinched Allmendinger a playoff berth for the first time.
Last season, Allmendinger won on the Indianapolis road course driving for Kaulig. It was the first Cup Series victory in the organization’s history.
“I’ve always told Matt Kaulig and Chris Rice that I will do whatever they think is best for the company, and as long as I am helping the team, I will keep doing it,” said Allmendinger. “I love working with Justin [Haley] as well and being able to see his growth.
“I think we have more growth to do together, and it makes returning to the Cup Series full-time with Kaulig Racing an easy decision.”
Chandler Smith will move into the Xfinity Series and take over the No.16 Chevrolet that Allmendinger will vacate with his return to the Cup Series.