Early Friday afternoon at Nashville Superspeedway, Kaulig Racing owner Matt Kaulig and team president Chris Rice announced they will be moving their team up to the Cup-Series level beginning in 2022 after acquiring two charters.
“I’m extremely proud of how far Kaulig Racing has come in just a few short years,” Kaulig said. “We entered our first Daytona 500 in 2020 and have already made it known in just a handful of races that we are here to compete.”
The charters were acquired from Spire Motorsports, who came into the 2021 season with three charters, the No. 7 car driven by Corey LaJoie, the No. 77 and another charter that was leased to Trackhouse Racing.
Kaulig selected Justin Haley to run the full-time ride for the team next season, while AJ Allmendinger will run a part-time schedule for the team’s second Cup car and run for an Xfinity Series championship in 2022.
Last June, Haley became one of just 36 NASCAR drivers in history to win in all three national series. The current driver of the Xfinity No. 11 Chevy actually earned a Cup Series win back on July 7, 2019 at Daytona International Speedway due to a rain-shortened race.
“I’ve been so fortunate the past three years to drive for an amazing team owner like Matt Kaulig,” Haley said. “He has been a great mentor in my professional career, as well as my personal life away from racing.”
Kaulig didn’t have the best of showings in this year’s Daytona 500, but they backed up their competitiveness with three straight top-10 finishes at the Daytona road course, Talladega Superspeedway and Circuit of the Americas.
Allmendinger wheeled the road-course events, while Kaz Grala piloted the car and survived the chaos at Talladega.
Kaulig plans on continuing their Xfinity program with two cars for the foreseeable future.
With Spire handing over two of their charters, they still have plans to move forward in the future with LaJoie.
“Spire Motorsports will sell two of its three charters to Kaulig Racing”, the team said in a statement. “We will continue to field the No. 7 with Corey LaJoie as a chartered entry in 2022. We remain committed to NASCAR and the Cup Series and we will continue to look for opportunities to grow and compete in the future.”
Trackhouse’s lease from Kaulig expires at the end of the 2021 season, which will leave the team exploring for two charters next year unless they run as an open team.
“I learned about this deal when everyone else did today”, Trackhouse owner Justin Marks said.
Prior to Kaulig’s announcement, Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal reported that there’s been disagreement between NASCAR charter buyers and sellers, and due to demand, sellers are saying the value is now around $10 million.
Now that two charters are off the market for next year, it leaves a big question as to how other teams plan to expand or enter the Cup level for 2022 and beyond.
GMS Racing announced they will have a Cup schedule for next season and Trackhouse and 23XI Racing are looking to expand to two-car teams for 2022. JR Motorsports also hinted at moving up to the Cup level, but the area of movability is tight right now with low supply and high demand for charters.
Regardless of what’s to happen in the coming months, Kaulig was the early bird to get the worm and will begin their quest to become a powerhouse next season.