Kaulig Racing has tapped AJ Allmendinger for his first NASCAR Cup Series start since 2018, announcing Thursday he’ll drive the team’s No. 16 Chevrolet next month on Daytona International Speedway’s road-course layout.
Allmendinger is set for a full-season campaign with the Matt Kaulig-owned organization in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2021. The 39-year-old veteran has competed on a part-time basis for Kaulig the last two years, scoring three victories in his 16 starts.
“I am really looking forward to racing in the Cup Series once again, but more importantly, I am pumped to be racing in the Cup Series for Kaulig Racing,” Allmendinger said in a release from the team. “I keep wanting to help Kaulig Racing grow as much as possible, and the next step is racing in some Cup races with them. Daytona is a prestigious race track to compete at, whether you are on the oval or road course, so this is a great place for Kaulig Racing’s first non-superspeedway Cup race.”
— Kaulig Racing (@KauligRacing) January 21, 2021
Kaulig officials announced Jan. 7 the organization would participate in a partial Cup Series schedule this year, with the intent to graduate to a full-season effort in the future. Six days later, Kaulig announced 22-year-old Kaz Grala would drive its Cup Series entry in several events this year, beginning with a bid for the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 14 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM).
Kaulig indicated its Cup Series plans would focus on superspeedway events and road courses. The road-racing element would especially play to one of Allmendinger’s strengths; five of his six NASCAR national-series wins have come on road courses, including his lone Cup Series win at Watkins Glen International in 2014.
“Having AJ (Allmendinger) compete in our very first non-superspeedway Cup race was really a no-brainer for us,” said Chris Rice, Kaulig Racing’s president. “Kaulig Racing is honored to be able to be get AJ back into the Cup Series for the first time since his retirement. I think he will pick right back up where he left off as a road course ace.”
The Daytona Road Course will host its second-ever Cup Series race on Feb. 21 (3 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM). The event was a late addition to the 2021 calendar after COVID-19 restrictions forced competition officials to reassign a race weekend scheduled at Auto Club Speedway in California.