• Sat. Apr 1st, 2023

Countdown to the Clash: AJ Allmendinger returns to Cup Series full-time in 2023

ByMichael Manny

Jan 20, 2023

Photo courtesy of Sean Gardner | Getty Images

For the first time since 2018, AJ Allmendinger will be racing full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, piloting the No. 16 Chevrolet Camaro for Kaulig Racing. 

Allmendinger drove the No. 16 car to three top-five finishes and eight top 10s in 18 starts last season. He will now be a full-time teammate to Justin Haley, who had an encouraging 2022 season.

The now 41-year-old originally retired from full-time racing after 2018, but was lured back by Kaulig to run part-time in the Xfinity Series. Since then, Allmendinger has had nothing short of a late-career renaissance. 

Allmendinger ran five races in 2019, winning the first Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course race and placing third at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In 11 starts the next year, he again won at the Charlotte Roval and at Atlanta.

Since returning to full-time racing in the Xfinity Series in 2021, Allmendinger has even more so embodied team owner Matt Kaulig’s “trophy hunting” mantra. Allmendinger won five races and the regular season title in 2021, plus earned Kaulig its first Cup Series win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. 

Allmendinger continued his success in 2022, winning his second consecutive regular season title in Xfinity and another five races. And he nearly could have had another Cup win to go with it.

The Los Gatos, California native earned his first Xfinity victory of the season at Circuit of the Americas. Later that weekend, Allmendinger had the lead on the final lap of the Cup race after moving Trackhouse Racing No. 1 driver Ross Chastain out of the way. Shortly after, Chastain returned the favor, sending Allmendinger into the gravel. 

From there, Allmendinger continued his road course dominance, winning the Xfinity series’ debut at Portland International Raceway and again at the Indy Road Course.

In the playoffs, Allmendinger won two consecutive races at Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte Roval to advance to the Round of 8, but missed out on the Championship 4, finishing the season fifth in points. 

Though he missed out on an Xfinity Series championship the last two seasons, Allmendinger will now have plenty of chances to trophy hunt on Sundays in 2023.