Kaulig Racing Takes Its Trophy Hunting to an Absurd New Level
It’s a NASCAR match made in heaven. Kaulig Racing obsesses over “trophy hunting.” Kyle Larson wants to win at Darlington, as demanding a track as there is in the sport.
They belong together like Magic and Bird, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, or Taylor Swift and … uh, never mind. The point is, Kaulig and Larson are teaming up at Darlington next month in the team’s appropriately designated all-star car.
Kyle Larson is hitching a ride with Kaulig Racing at Darlington
Kaulig Racing announced on Wednesday that 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson will drive the No. 10 Chevy in the May 13 Xfinity Series race at Darlington Raceway. HendrickCars.com is sponsoring the car.
Darlington will be Larson’s first Xfinity appearance this season. He drove in three races last year, winning at Watkins Glen in a JR Motorsports Chevy. Hendrick Motorsports ended its full-time Xfinity presence after the 2007 season but trotted out the No. 17 Chevy for five races last year as preparation for the next day’s Cup Series race.
Kaulig Racing began as an Xfinity-only organization in 2016 and scored the first of its 21 wins in 2019 with A.J. Allmendinger and Ross Chastain. It’s been a contender since, and full-time drivers Chandler Smith and Daniel Hemric are third and 10th, respectively, in points this year.
Kaulig Racing’s No. 10 Chevy has turned into an all-star car
Kaulig Racing ran three full-time cars in the Xfinity Series the past two years but had to drop down to two this year after Landon Cassill lost his key sponsor, cryptocurrency company Voyager, to bankruptcy.
Rather than let the No. 10 Chevy sit idle, Kaulig turned it into an all-star car. Its own Cup Series drivers, A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Haley, have raced in the car, as have Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, and truck series veteran Derek Kraus.
Allmendinger, one of the top drivers on road courses, won at Circuit of the Americas. Busch, the winner of 102 races in the second-tier series, has finished fourth and ninth thus far and will compete three more times.
As a practical matter, keeping the car on the track makes sense for Kaulig since big names like Busch and Kyle Larson bring sponsor money with them. There’s also pride at stake since owner Matt Kaulig and president Chris Rice speak frequently of the organization’s passion for “trophy hunting.” Additionally, working with the most successful organization in Cup history (Kaulig has a formal alliance with Richard Childress Racing) can’t hurt.
“Kyle is really big for our sport right now and we’re excited for him to be a part of our program at Kaulig Racing,” Rice said. “Building our relationship with Hendrick Motorsports is amazing for us and fun for everyone involved.”
Kyle Larson has made winning at Darlington a priority
Hendrick Motorsports star Kyle Larson is already on the schedule to drive his team’s No. 17 Chevy at Darlington on Sept. 2, the day before the Southern 500 in the Cup Series. The three other scheduled uses of the HMS Xfinity Series car by Larson and his teammates are at road courses.
The goal of drivers doing double duty on a weekend is to get a better feel for the track on Saturday in order to be in top form in the Cup Series on Sunday. The fact that Larson is using two opportunities on the same oval shows just how badly he wants to win there.
“I always look forward to going to Darlington,” Larson said early this year on the Hendrick Motorsports website. “I’ve always wanted to win at Bristol, and we won a race at Bristol (in 2021). So that track is kind of next on my list. I want to win everywhere, but Darlington is a track that I have been really fast at in the past, so I always get excited for that race.”
Now, he thinks a Kaulig car can get him to Victory Lane on Saturday – or at least give him the edge to getting the job done on Sunday.
“Darlington is a challenging track and definitely one on the top of my list that I’m eager to get a win at,” he reiterated in the Kaulig announcement. “The Kaulig Xfinity cars have been really fast this year, too, so I’m thankful for the opportunity to run double-duty and hopefully we’ll have a good shot at a win.”
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