By Nick Lewis
Kaulig Racing has been on a roll the past few weeks with all three of their cars running well, no matter what type of race track the series is running that week.
Over the span of the past couple weeks, Kaulig Racing won races at Atlanta Motor Speedway with A.J. Allmendinger and Talladega with Justin Haley, both of those drivers have won the Dash 4 Cash bonus during one of the four installments of it, and all three drivers are running well at the race track.
Kaulig Racing has two full time teams in the No. 10 of Ross Chastain and the No. 11 of Justin Haley, and the No. 16 team which is a part-time team with veteran driver A.J. Allmendinger at the wheel.
Allmendinger won his first career NASCAR oval race with Kaulig Racing when he won at Atlanta Motor Speedway. One week after the win, Allmendinger won the Dash 4 Cash which is Xfinity’s $100,000 bonus to the top finishing series regular out of the four that qualify.
Haley then followed it up with a win at Talladega to mark his first career Xfinity Series win. Haley attributes the success to his teammates Chastain and Allmendinger for helping to elevate the program.
“I think Kaulig Racing is at the next level right now,” said Haley. “Ross Chastain has helped the program a good bit. The teammate aspect of it is pretty incredible, we all work together to be fast and obviously it’s proven pretty well.”
Haley continued to say that he believed that he should’ve won Bristol and he or his teammate Chastain should’ve won Charlotte, but luck was not on their side.
This past offseason, Kaulig Racing brought in their own engineers instead of hiring them from Richard Childress Racing and Haley said that having their own engineering department has helped the team find that extra speed.
The success of Kaulig Racing is shared among the three teams, with all of them working towards the goal of having one of the two and sometimes three cars win the race.
“I think the biggest thing at Kaulig is that we work as a team, it’s not three separate teams,” said Haley. “The 16 guys built my car; the 11 guys built the 10 car. We all build each other’s cars, at the racetrack we’re all together but at the shop it’s one group.”
Another aspect of Kaulig Racing’s success is the relationship between the three drivers. After winning at Talladega, Chastain drove his car up alongside Haley’s and when Haley climbed out of the car Chastain and Haley hugged at the Start/Finish Line.
Soon after, Allmendinger ran down pit road to meet Haley and Haley leaped into Allmendinger’s arms while hitting Allmendinger’s helmet in excitement. Chastain has explained that the team dynamic is like a family.
“We’re like a bunch of buddies at school,” said Chastain. “In all reality I think A.J. and Justin are a little closer. Honestly because they have this weird father-son dynamic. I’m just like either the distant cousin or an uncle, I don’t know where I fit in exactly, but I wedge myself in there.
“When we won Daytona last July, I wanted the other two cars to come down and do burnouts with me.”
Justin Haley’s crew chief Alex Yontz says that one of the main reasons for the team’s success is having a supportive owner in Matt Kaulig and Chris Rice as shop president. Yontz said the team worked as much as they could during the pandemic, even working in shifts and remotely.
Chris Rice has been using the No. 16 car as an experiment to help make the No. 10 and No. 11 cars better and it’s paying off, according to Yontz. With the momentum they have, Yontz says they want to roll with it and not look back.
“I feel like our program has taken the next leap, weather it’s short tracks, downforce, or superspeedways,” said Yontz.
“I feel like the momentum we have gained we just keep carrying off of that because it’s not like we’ve just focused on one racetrack, we’ve tried to focus on our whole program and making it better. I think we just keep building on that, take what we’ve learned and get a little bit better each week.”