This article was originally published by Dustin Long on NASCAR ON NBC Sports.
Matt Kaulig’s vision
When Kaulig Racing debuted in the Xfinity Series in 2016, the team finished 16th in car owner points.
Five years later, nearly half the cars that finished ahead of Matt Kaulig’s team no longer exist. Gone are cars from Roush Fenway Racing, Richard Childress Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing.
Kaulig’s operation, meanwhile, expanded to three full-time Xfinity teams and will run a full-time Cup team next year.
The growth is unparalleled in the series in that time. That’s how Kaulig does business.
“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. “That’s up on the wall for everybody to see in the race shop.
“You want to keep getting better, and you want to keep growing. I do not want to be one of those statistics (of teams no longer in the series since 2016).”
He seeks to be as impactful in racing.
“We want to be one of the bigger teams in NASCAR,” Kaulig told NBC Sports. “That is our goal. We do want to dominate. We do want to win races. We look at the other organizations out there like Gibbs, Penske and Hendrick. We want to be like those organizations.
“We’re young. I’m 48 years old. Our president, Chris Rice, is 47 years old. So we’ve got a lot of years left. We’ve got a lot of energy. We want to accomplish a lot of things.”
Kaulig’s organization will be the fourth new full-time Cup team since this season, a move influenced by the debut of the Next Gen car in 2022. Trackhouse Racing, 23XI Racing and Live Fast Motorsports each debuted this season. The Next Gen car is intended to reduce costs over time because many of the its parts will come from vendors instead of teams needing to make those items.
The influx of new teams is something NASCAR President Steve Phelps hinted at in September 2020.
“I would suggest that the number of new owners trying to get into this sport has never been higher,” Phelps said then. “Certainly when I’ve been around, and I’ve been around for 15 years. There’s just a ton of enthusiasm for the direction of what team ownership looks like.”
While the path to Cup has come relatively quickly, Kaulig also has taken a measured approach. The team will run at least 10 races this season.
Kaz Grala finished sixth in last weekend’s Cup race at Talladega. Allmendinger placed seventh for the team at the Daytona road course in February. Grala was 28th in the season-opening Daytona 500.
“We wanted to do a few things,” Kaulig said. “We wanted to be in the (Cup) garage … They do things different. Inspections are different. It’s, seriously, just learning all of that stuff for 10 or 11 races.”
As the organization moves ahead on its Cup plans, it doesn’t appear to be negatively impacting the team’s Xfinity Series program.
Kaulig Racing has won two of the first eight Xfinity races this season. AJ Allmendinger won at Las Vegas. Jeb Burton won last weekend’s race at Talladega. Justin Haley has six top-10 finishes in the first eight races of the season.
The team celebrated Burton’s win Monday with lunch. It was another sign of how far the organization has come since its debut.
“We used to have top-10 lunches,” Kaulig said. “Then it went to top-five lunches.”
Now, the lunches are for wins.