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Kaulig Racing sets 2022 driver lineup for second Cup car

A.J. Allmendinger is the benefactor of Chase Briscoe taking out Denny Hamlin during an OT restart despite a penalty to Briscoe for running straight through the grass in Turn 1 and not immediately returning to the track.

With Justin Haley set to run full-time for them next season in the NASCAR Cup Series, Kaulig Racing has finalized the driver roster for its second Cup entry.

When Kaulig announced its plans to go Cup racing in June, A.J. Allmendinger was slated to run select races in that second entry. But on Tuesday, Kaulig confirmed that reigning Xfinity Series champion Daniel Hemric and Noah Gragson will join Allmendinger in sharing the No. 16 Chevrolet.

Gragson will drive the No. 16 entry in 14 Cup races. Allmendinger and Hemric will split the remaining races.

Specific Cup schedules for Gragson, Allmendinger and Hemric were not announced. Additionally, the car number for Haley’s full-time entry was also not announced.

Allmendinger, Hemric and Gragson were all part of this year’s Xfinity Series Championship 4. Hemric won the Xfinity title last month at Phoenix Raceway for Joe Gibbs Racing, but will defend it driving for Kaulig in 2022.

“We think our roster for the 2022 season features some great drivers,” team president Chris Rice said in a release. “Having three out of the four Xfinity Series championship contenders helping to build our new Cup Series program, is truly a tremendous opportunity for this Kaulig Racing team.

“While these guys have been fierce competitors for the last few years, having them bring that same tenacity as teammates will be extremely fun to watch and a great way for this team to grow in its first, full season in the Cup Series.”

For Hemric, running the No. 16 entry will mark his first Cup action since his 2019 rookie season in the series with Richard Childress Racing. He won Cup rookie of the year honors, but was replaced by Tyler Reddick at season’s end.

“I have had the chance to race against some great drivers over the past few years,” said Hemric in the release. “AJ is a great competitor, who can win on any track, and Noah and I have been teammates in the past at JR Motorsports.

“Each of us are different, but seeing how intense both AJ and Noah are as professionals gets me excited for this upcoming season. Now we have the opportunity to be able to lean on each other and try to build a program here at Kaulig Racing at the highest level of our sport. I feel fortunate to be a part of this.”

Gragson has already confirmed a Daytona 500 attempt with Beard Motorsports. But his time in the Kaulig No. 16 will give him at least a semi-regular taste of the Cup Series.

“This is a really unique opportunity I have with Kaulig Racing to be able to share the No. 16 with two of my biggest competitors in the Xfinity Series,” said Gragson in the release.

“I’ve had the chance to work with Daniel before, but it will be a new experience working with AJ. We’ve raced against each other for a few years now, and I think working as teammates will only help us get better as drivers.”

The Kaulig No. 16 entry appeared in nine Cup races this season with drivers Allmendinger (five races), Kaz Grala (three races), and Haley (one race). Allmendinger gave the team its first Cup victory in a wild affair at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.