Despite delivering Kaulig Racing their first ever NASCAR Cup Series win in 2021 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and earning another victory in his first full season with the team in 2023 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, A.J. Allmendinger has long been heavily linked with a move back to the Xfinity Series for the 2024 season.
Kaulig Racing confirmed earlier this week that he is indeed set to make that move. As a result, his No. 16 Chevrolet is one of three chartered entries without a confirmed driver for the 2024 season, the other two being the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford and the No. 15/51 Rick Ware Racing Ford.
All things considered, the move makes sense. Kaulig Racing are not a top-tier Cup Series team at the moment, and Allmendinger has established himself as the top driver in the organization.
Having him compete in the Xfinity Series, where he was a proven championship contender in 2021 and 2022, could be a lot more beneficial than limiting his upside in the Cup Series at this point in his career.
Plus, the need for talent is there at Matt Kaulig's Xfinity Series team, with only former DGM Racing driver Josh Williams confirmed as a part of their 2024 lineup. Even though Chandler Smith signed a multi-year deal ahead of the 2023 season, he is out and likely on his way to Joe Gibbs Racing.
Kaulig Racing had already made one big change to their Cup Series driver lineup for 2024, with Daniel Hemric having been called up from their Xfinity Series team (creating yet another Xfinity Series vacancy) to replace the Rick Ware Racing-bound Justin Haley. With another officially in store, who will replace Allmendinger?
Ty Dillon expected to replace A.J. Allmendinger for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season
While it hasn't yet been announced by the team, this move appears to be all but confirmed. Dillon has spent the last four seasons with four different teams, and he has lost his ride after each of the last two years due to subpar performance, particularly compared to his teammates.
While the decision to move Allmendinger back to the Xfinity Series certainly has its benefits, the fact that Dillon is likely to replace him is baffling, to say the least.
Dillon was statistically the worst driver in the series in 2023, and it wasn't even close. He was handily beaten by teammate Corey LaJoie at Spire Motorsports, just as he was by teammate Erik Jones when they were together at Petty GMS Motorsports (now Legacy Motor Club) in 2022.
With Hemric having not done all that much in his two seasons with the Xfinity Series program, Kaulig Racing may very well enter the 2024 season with the least competitive driver lineup in the Cup Series -- at least on paper.