It’s a NASCAR match made in heaven. Kaulig Racing is obsessed with “trophy hunting”. Kyle Larson wants to win at Darlington, a circuit as demanding as the sport has to offer.
They belong together like Magic and Bird, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire or Taylor Swift and… uh, never mind. Point is, Kaulig and Larson are teaming up in the team’s appropriately-designated All-Star car at Darlington next month.
Kyle Larson hitchhiking with Kaulig Racing at Darlington
Kaulig Racing announced Wednesday that 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Champion Kyle Larson will drive the #10 Chevy in the May 13 Xfinity Series race at Darlington Raceway. HendrickCars.com sponsors the car.
Darlington will be Larson’s first Xfinity appearance this season. He competed in three races last year and won at Watkins Glen in a JR Motorsports Chevy. Hendrick Motorsports ended its full-time Xfinity presence after the 2007 season, but put the No. 17 Chevy out on track for five races last year in preparation for the next day’s Cup Series race.
Kaulig Racing began as an Xfinity-only organization in 2016 and achieved the first of their 21 wins in 2019 with AJ Allmendinger and Ross Chastain. It’s been a contender ever since, and full-time riders Chandler Smith and Daniel Hemric are third and tenth respectivelythor in points this year.
Kaulig Racing’s Chevy #10 has morphed into an all-star car
Kaulig Racing has run three full-time cars in the Xfinity series in the past two years but has had to downsize to two this year after Landon Cassill lost his main sponsor, cryptocurrency firm Voyager, to bankruptcy.
Instead of letting the #10 Chevy sit idle, Kaulig turned it into an all-star car. His own Cup Series drivers, AJ 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 street circuits, won at the Circuit of the Americas. Busch, winner of 102 races in the second-rate series, has finished fourth and ninth so far and will contest three more races.
From a practical standpoint, it makes sense for Kaulig to keep the car on track, with big names like Busch and Kyle Larson bringing sponsorship money with them. There’s also pride at stake, as owner Matt Kaulig and President Chris Rice often speak of the organization’s passion for “trophy hunting.” In addition, working with the most successful organization in Cup history (Kaulig has a formal alliance with Richard Childress Racing) doesn’t hurt.
“Kyle is really great for our sport right now and we’re excited to have him join our program at Kaulig Racing,” said Rice. “Building our relationship with Hendrick Motorsports is great for us and fun for everyone involved.”
Kyle Larson has made winning at Darlington a priority
Hendrick Motorsports star Kyle Larson is already scheduled to drive his No. 17 team’s Chevy at Darlington on September 2, the day before the Southern 500 in the Cup Series. The three other scheduled deployments of the HMS Xfinity Series car by Larson and his teammates will be on street circuits.
The aim of the drivers, who are in a double pack on a weekend, is to get a better feeling for the track on Saturday in order to be in top form in the Cup Series on Sunday. The fact that Larson takes two chances on the same oval shows how badly he wants to win there.
“I always look forward to going to Darlington,” Larson told the Hendrick Motorsports website earlier this year. “I’ve always wanted to win at Bristol and we won a race at Bristol (2021). So this track is kind of next on my list. I want to win everywhere but Darlington is a track where I have been very quick in the past so I always look forward to this race.”
Now he thinks a Kaulig car can put him in Victory Lane on Saturday – or at least give him the advantage of getting work done on Sunday.
“Darlington is a challenging track and it’s high on my list of places I’m dying to win,” he reiterated in the Kaulig announcement. “The Kaulig Xfinity cars have been very quick again this year so I’m grateful for the opportunity to drive doubles and I hope we have a good chance of winning.”
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