Race Weekend Central

A Big Year Lies Ahead for ‘Old School Guy’ Josh Williams

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — On February 27, 2010, Josh Williams made his ARCA Menards Series debut at Palm Beach International Raceway at just 16 years old. Running with a family-owned team, he finished in 20th place, eight laps down on the 2.034-mile road course that was just under 150 miles away from his hometown of Port Charlotte, Fla.

Flash forward 14 years, 102 ARCA starts, two ARCA wins and 186 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts later, and Williams, now 30, has been signed to drive the full 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series season with Kaulig Racing. It’s a tremendous opportunity and new chapter in his NASCAR journey.

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His NASCAR journey can’t be told, however, without the story of what happened at Atlanta Motor Speedway last March.

Last year, Williams was driving DGM Racing’s No. 92 Xfinity car full-time. In the season’s fifth race at Atlanta, Williams was involved in an early incident. The team made repairs, but NASCAR ordered the team to park the car after debris from the No. 92 fell onto the track and brought out another caution.

Williams did end up parking the car: on the start/finish line.

The stunt netted a one-race suspension, but it endeared himself to thousands of fans and plenty of members in the garage area.

“Well, I guess my thought process wasn’t what everyone thought it was, right?” Williams said. “It wasn’t planned, but it worked out good for me. I got to get a new fanbase and kind of tell my story about who I am as a racecar driver and who I am as a person too. That’s helped a lot, got a lot of support from fans. They stopped by all the time, and they appreciated what I did for them as a fan and for the way the sport has trended in the last few years.

“NASCAR wasn’t too happy about it, but a lot of people in the garage, they were on my side.”

Now it’s February 2024, and a new year in Kaulig’s No. 11 car awaits. The team needs no introduction on the Xfinity stage, as it’s won 23 Xfinity races in the past five seasons to go along with two Cup wins.

“This [deal] is huge for me,” Williams said. “This is what everybody looks forward to, and now that I’ve got the opportunity, I just have to make the best of it. Learn their equipment, learn how their cars work, how they operate, and I’ve got a pretty good understanding of how they operate and do things around here. Now I just got to get used to the racecars and the results will come to us.”

Williams’ deal with the team runs through 2024 and 2025, and he will also run a part-time schedule in the team’s No. 16 Cup car this season.

“We talked about [Cup] when we first started talking about the Xfinity stuff,” Williams said. “If there were opportunities for me to run a couple of Cup races, and they came about. Basically, [these races] are just practice for me. My goal is to be a full-time Cup driver eventually. So, just to get some seat time in those cars and learn them a little bit more before I go full time, it’s going to make a huge difference.”

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His first opportunity in the Cup car with Kaulig came at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 3. Weather cancelled the heat races, and while Williams had the fastest time in his practice group, he missed advancing to Busch Light Clash by one spot.

“[The performance] was good,” Williams said. “I think 14 one-hundredths is what separated us from making it, not making it. And, you know, that’s just the circumstances of the weather. I think if we could’ve got to run the normal format, we would have been just fine. But unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.”

On the Xfinity side, Kaulig’s full-time lineup will feature Williams alongside three-time Cup winner and 17-time Xfinity winner AJ Allmendinger and three-time Australian Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen. For Williams, it’s been a joy to bond with his new team and teammates this offseason.

“It’s been great, you know, [since] the first day I walked in the shop,” Williams said. “I know a lot of these guys; I’ve hung out with a bunch of those people even in the ARCA days. Some of them even helped me on my car back in the day. So, we’ve got good relationships with all those guys, and hanging out with AJ has been a ton of fun. Me and him, we’re pretty magic personality wise. Maybe we have a different approach, but we like to have fun. That makes a big difference.

“SVG, I really ain’t talked to him much, he’s kind of quiet. I don’t know if he knows how to take me and AJ yet, but it’s going be fun.”

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Xfinity was scheduled to have its season opener at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday (Feb. 17), but rain delayed that and the Daytona 500 to Monday (Feb. 19). Kaulig has been a powerhouse on superspeedways the last five seasons, and Williams expects the same for the season opener.

“I think [we’ll be up there] for sure,” Williams said. “I mean, [super]speedway racing is almost 90% luck, right? So, if we can be there at the end, we’ve got a shot to win.”

Superspeedways {along with road courses) may be Kaulig’s bread and butter, but they’re able to contend just about anywhere.

In terms of races that Williams is looking forward to the most in the upcoming season, he said, “every single one of them.” He did, however, single out Phoenix Raceway as a track he’s excelled at in particular.

“I’m looking forward to going to Phoenix, I usually run really good at Phoenix,” Williams said. “So, just [to] kind of see how their cars drive there and see if it fits my style. We’ve done a lot of sim work and stuff like that, so that’s helped our curve a little bit. We try to shorten that up so we can be the best we can be when we get there.”

Williams’ best Xfinity finish was a sixth-place run at Kansas Speedway in 2020, but top 10s are no longer the prize. For Williams, his goal for the upcoming season is simple: win.

“I’d like to win a minimum of one race, just because I know that I can do it and I know Kaulig can do it, and I’d like to make the playoffs our first year,” Williams said. “I think that would be a huge accomplishment for myself, being my first year over here, getting my feet wet and learning these racecars because they’re definitely different than the ones I’m used to.”

Williams now has the best opportunity of NASCAR career, and it’s been a long, winding road for him since that first ARCA start 14 years ago. But while his NASCAR journey has spanned more than a decade, his story is far from over: It’s only beginning.

“Just keep following along. I’m your old school guy you’ve been looking for, for the last 10 years.”

About the author

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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