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Kaulig Racing to field two Cup teams in 2022, acquires charters

Nashville may be welcoming back the NASCAR Cup Series for the first time in 37 years, but as Nate Ryan explains, the history of racing and the "Music City" are inextricably linked.

LEBANON, Tenn. — Car owner Matt Kaulig will field two Cup cars next season, purchasing two charters from Spire Motorsports, Kaulig Racing announced Friday at Nashville Superspeedway.

Justin Haley has a multi-year deal to drive for one of Kaulig’s Cup teams next season. AJ Allmendinger will run a full Xfinity schedule in 2022 and select Cup races in Kaulig’s second Cup entry.

Other drivers in that second Cup entry have not been announced. Kaulig Racing also plans to run at least two Xfinity teams along with its Cup operation next year.

Kaulig becomes the fourth new Cup organization since the start of 2021. Trackhouse Racing, 23XI Racing and Live Fast Motorsports all joined Cup this season.

“We’re just getting started in this business,” said Kaulig, who is 48 years old.
The sale of charters leaves Spire Motorsports with one for next season. It is using two charters this season for the No. 7 team of Corey LaJoie and the No. 77 team most often run with Haley. Spire also is leasing a charter to Trackhouse Racing this season.

Spire Motorsports co-owners T.J. Puchyr and Jeff Dickerson said in a statement: “We will continue to field the No. 7 with Corey LaJoie as a chartered entry in 2022. We remain committed to NASCAR and the Cup Series and we will continue to look for opportunities to grow and compete in the future.”

Kaulig declined to name how much he paid for both charters.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Tennessee Lottery 250 - Practice

LEBANON, TENNESSEE - JUNE 18: Team owner Matt Kaulig, (L) and Chris Rice, president of Kaulig Racing speak to the media during a press conference prior to practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Tennessee Lottery 250 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 18, 2021 in Lebanon, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Getty Images

The charter purchases complete a quest to reach Cup for Kaulig. The Ohio businessman came to NASCAR as a sponsor and became a car owner in the Xfinity Series in 2016 with Blake Koch as his driver.

Kaulig Racing won its first Xfinity race in July 2019 with Ross Chastain at Daytona International Speedway.

Kaulig Racing has scored 10 Xfinity wins heading into Saturday’s race at Nashville Superspeedway (3:30 p,.m. ET on NBCSN).

The organization also has been dipping its toes into Cup. It plans to run 10 races this season.

Kaulig announced in April his intention to have a full-time Cup team. He told NBC Sports at the time that “we definitely know we’re going to run at least one Cup car (in 2022).”

The move to Cup also fulfills a philosophy that has shaped Kaulig, a former quarterback for the Akron Zips who built LeafFilter North, Inc. from his home into a business that has more than 100 locations in the U.S. and Canada.

“There’s a quote that I have that I really live by, and I do this in business and even in the business of racing: ‘Either you continue to grow or you begin to die,’” Kaulig told NBC Sports in April. “That’s up on the wall for everybody to see in the race shop.”
Haley, 22, has raced for Kaulig in the Xfinity Series since 2019. He also has 17 Cup starts for various teams, winning the rain-shortened July 2019 race for Spire Motorsports at Daytona.