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AJ Allmendinger Back in Xfinity With Kaulig

AJ Allmendinger has returned to the NASCAR Xfinity Series with Kaulig Racing for 2024, Kaulig announced Dec. 7.

Allmendinger will drive the No. 16, marking a return to the car he piloted in the series before 2023, when he sported the number for the team in the NASCAR Cup Series.

“We feel AJ returning full time to our Xfinity Series program gives us the best chance to continue growing our organization as a whole,” team president Chris Rice said in a release. “He’s passionate, he’s aggressive and he pushes us to keep getting better. We’re excited to see what we can accomplish in the 2024 season on both the Xfinity and Cup side.”

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“My plans for 2024 have always been whatever Matt Kaulig and Chris Rice think is best for the team,” Allmendinger added. “We’ve got work to do on both our Xfinity and Cup side as we continue to grow but I think we are putting ourselves in the best position to keep improving.

“With Josh Williams coming on board, it’ll be fun to learn each other’s driving styles and work together as teammates on Saturdays. I’m excited to be a part everything we’re working on at Kaulig Racing and see what we can get done next season.”

Allmendinger drove the No. 16 full time in Xfinity in 2021 and 2022, earning 10 wins, 35 top fives and 50 top 10s.

He also won two races and scored four top fives and five top 10s in five Xfinity starts for the team in 2023.

His main job last year was in the Cup Series, where he scored a win, four top fives and seven top 10s.

Kaulig has not yet announced who Allmendinger’s Cup replacement will be.

He joins an Xfinity program that also includes Josh Williams in the No. 11. The team’s No. 10, which ran full time in 2023 with a variety of drivers, has not yet had its status announced.

About the author

Rutherford is the managing editor of Frontstretch, a position he gained in 2015 after serving on the editing staff for two years. At his day job, he's a journalist covering music and rock charts at Billboard. He lives in New York City, but his heart is in Ohio -- you know, like that Hawthorne Heights song.

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sdelfin

Good move for AJ, in my opinion. The grind of the Cup Series may just be more than he wants to endure while running mid pack so far. He’s very good, as he has shown in Xfinity. And I have no doubt he simply had more fun in the second-tier series because he and the team regularly ran well there, which is valuable. It gives that series a good personality to root for or against. Unless Kaulig’s Xfinity program falls behind or they get a run of bad luck, expecting more wins with AJ is reasonable. So their Xfinity program will likely remain strong, but the issue there is reliability. This silly season, both the Cup and Xfinity programs have been super volatile on the driver side with Kaulig Racing basically reshuffling everything which makes it harder to build on things. Though perhaps it will work out, but I do think this move with AJ is good and is what I suspect he preferred. So the key question now is, who fills AJ’s Cup seat?

Bill B

I didn’t get that impression at all. In one of the interviews I remember, I thought he sounded like he really wished he could stay at the cup level but he understood why the team wanted to try something different.

sdelfin

I could be wrong. Some of it might be my own assumptions and interpretations, but I think there’s some ambiguity here. And AJ is an emotional guy. I found a statement saying he wanted to stay in Cup, but that was after he won. I also saw a statement prior to that win where he said he had no preference, which is odd for a Cup driver who want to stay in Cup, and there’s really no optics reason to not express that. I saw reporting that the grueling demands of the Cup series were a factor, especially with AJ now having a kid. As for my own assumptions, I imagine it’s more fun running for wins and championships in Xfinity, especially at 40+ like AJ, which is still a competitive series than running 23rd in a Cup car. I think that win had AJ second guessing things. But I also acknowledge there are sponsorship concerns that go with this. I think AJ will likely end up happy with how this turned out. Maybe he’ll be able to do what Custer just did.

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