NASCAR: A.J. Allmendinger is returning to the Cup Series

A.J. Allmendinger, Kaulig Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
A.J. Allmendinger, Kaulig Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

A.J. Allmendinger is set to make his first NASCAR Cup Series start since 2018 in the race at the Daytona International Speedway road course next month.

Kaulig Racing, which have competed full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series since the 2016 season, are set to compete in the Cup Series in a part-time capacity in 2021 after making their series debut with Justin Haley behind the wheel of the #16 Chevrolet in last year’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

While not 100% confirmed, it is believed that their 2021 schedule will include 11 Cup Series races: the four superspeedway races and the seven road course races.

The first two races of the 2021 season are scheduled to take place at Daytona International Speedway, with the 63rd annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 14 and the race at the track’s road course on Sunday, February 21 following a coronavirus pandemic-related schedule change.

After confirming Kaz Grala as the driver of the #16 Chevrolet for the Daytona 500, they have confirmed former full-time Cup Series driver A.J. Allmendinger as the driver of the #16 Chevrolet for the road course race.

The team confirmed the news with a Twitter video.

Here is what Allmendinger had to say in a team release.

"“I am really looking forward to racing in the Cup Series once again, but more importantly, I am pumped to be racing in the Cup Series for Kaulig Racing. I keep wanting to help Kaulig Racing grow as much as possible, and the next step is racing in some Cup races with them. Daytona is a prestigious race track to compete at, whether you are on the oval or road course, so this is a great place for Kaulig Racing’s first non-superspeedway Cup race.”"

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Allmendinger is set to compete for the team full-time in the Xfinity Series in the upcoming season as well, beginning with the Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. 300 on Saturday, February 13 at the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) high-banked oval in Daytona Beach, Florida.

He hasn’t competed in a Cup Series race since his final start as a full-time driver for JTG Daugherty Racing in the 2018 season, and he did not compete in any of the three NASCAR races at the 14-turn, 3.61-mile (5.810-kilometer) track in Daytona Beach, Florida last August when all three series visited as a result of pandemic-related schedule changes.

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His lone Cup Series win at Watkins Glen International in the 2014 season. He competed in 371 races from his debut in 2007 to his most recent appearance three seasons ago.