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March 20, 2024

Josh Williams resets after “unlucky” start to 2024 Xfinity season

Josh Williams walks across the stage and gives a heart symbol with his hands before a NASCAR Xfinity Series race.
Alex Slitz
Getty Images

When Josh Williams knew last fall that he would be joining Kaulig Racing for the 2024 Xfinity Series season on a multiyear deal, he also realized it came with a different set of obstacles. For the first time in his racing career, he was paired with a perennial, front-running organization.

Williams, who has worked his entire career toward such an opportunity, raised expectations for the incoming season. Before the 2024 season opener at Daytona International Speedway, he even declared to, “I’m going to win a race — at least one. We might win more, but at least one somewhere. We’re going to make the playoffs, for sure.”

RELATED: Williams joins Kaulig for full-time Xfinity Series campaign in 2024

Kaulig Racing knew Williams would have an adjustment period. It marked a new era where he would be getting premium information from an organization that expects to compete for championships on a yearly basis. It’s also an organization that prides itself on giving drivers who haven’t given up on their journey an opportunity to succeed.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be super hard,” Chris Rice, president of Kaulig Racing, said of Williams joining the team. “When you’re teammates with AJ Allmendinger, [Shane van Gisbergen], it’s going to be different for him because he’s never had those kinds of guys as teammates. He’s up for the challenge.”

Williams’ happy-go-lucky yet relentless personality jives with Kaulig Racing. Meghan Henriques, his marketing agent for the past decade, said he has a considerable chip on his shoulder to perform at a high level.

“I want him to go out there, have some fun again and show everyone what he is truly made of,” she said, “and stop thinking this is it because it’s not. It’s just the beginning for him.”

Williams is always up for a challenge. Over the offseason, Rice challenged his driver to get in better shape. It was either that or lose his signature mullet. Williams dropped 25 lbs.

Everything is different for Williams in 2024. Kaulig’s preparation for race weekends is far dissimilar from anything he’s had previously. He’s already been on the Chevrolet simulator more this season than the entire 2023 season while driving for DGM Racing.

Williams, who is known to turn a few wrenches and get his hands dirty working on the machines he drives, has even had to step back from that role.

“I try to when I go to the shop, and they get mad at me, ‘You don’t have to do that,'” Williams joked about working on his hot rods. “And I’m like, ‘I know what I’m doing.’ And they are like, ‘We know that you know what you’re doing, but you don’t have to do that.’ A lot of the guys in the shop I’ve known for years, and they give me a hard time and every time I start doing something.”

Simply showing up to the track under the Kaulig banner was a contrast. Entering the 2024 season, Kaulig Racing had 23 Xfinity victories to its name, with the team’s top-10 percentage north of 51% (278 top 10s in 537 starts).

“It changes a lot,” Williams said of his outlook. “Every time they drop the lift gate, we have a shot to win this thing. That’s a huge difference, especially at the tracks that I’m strong at in years past. It’s going to be interesting to see how I run in [Kaulig] equipment compared to what I was in before.”

The first month of the 2024 racing season has been unkind to the No. 11 team. Williams has a best finish of 14th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with the other three results outside the top 25. His misfortune kicked off at Daytona when he was involved in an 11-car pileup at the beginning of the second stage. He had three left-rear tires go flat at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Most recently at Phoenix Raceway, Jeremy Clements got into Williams on Lap 6, which grounded the sway bar off his car. He took the checkered flag in 27th position, five laps down.

When describing the first four races with Kaulig, Williams kept it short: “Unlucky.”

No. 11’s misfortune has buried Williams to 30th in the championship standings, earning a mere 37 points. He is already 61 points below the elimination line, but he isn’t even thinking about the postseason.

“Your results are what shows,” Williams said. “The points, I don’t try to chase that. We’re not to that point. Once it gets to playoff time, and if we’ve made up that many spots and have had some solid runs, then we’re going to get to the point where we can watch that stuff and try to chase that stuff and a win.”

Williams remains upbeat despite the current circumstances, believing the misfortune will cycle itself through.

“I know that it’s not a team issue, it’s just something out of our control,” Williams added. “That’s what makes it OK. It’s not like we’re just having bad runs and don’t have any speed – luck just isn’t there. That’s what keeps me positive. It’s something that no one can control.”

MORE: 2024 Xfinity Series standings | 2024 Xfinity Series schedule

Leaning on his teammates Allmendinger and van Gisbergen — two of the best road-course competitors in the field — at Circuit of The Americas will help Williams through the Focused Health 250 on March 23 (5 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Williams has yet to compete at COTA as he’s failed to qualify for the race on two occasions. He was suspended during last season’s event.

Two looming short tracks in Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway follow, which will be the time for Williams to strike.

“It’s super important because those are the types of race tracks that I succeed at,” Williams said. “It’s a good opportunity for me to capitalize on gaining our points back and putting us back into a comfortable position, running well. Once you run good a couple of times, everything changes. The morale of the people, confidence, everything changes. I think we’ve got a good opportunity when we go back racing to have some solid finishes if we can stay out of trouble and the whole thing will change.”