AJ Allmendinger is returning to the Cup Series on a full-time basis in 2023.
The two-time Cup Series winner will drive Kaulig Racing’s No. 16 car next season. Allmendinger currently drives the No. 16 part-time in the Cup Series and drives the team’s No. 16 car full-time in the Xfinity Series. He won the 2021 Cup Series race at the Indianapolis road course.
“When I first went to Kaulig Racing to compete part-time in 2019 and 2020, I remember how I felt on the weekends that I wasn’t racing and how much I missed it," Allmendinger said in a team statement. "Competing full-time is a mentally tough battle at times. No matter how much work you put in as a driver, there’s a chance you will not achieve success. For a while, I think I lost that competitive drive to be the best. Kaulig Racing helped me find that again. I now feel more competitive than ever and believe there is more success to be earned as a team.”
Allmendinger, 40, leads the Xfinity Series points standings after scoring his fourth win of the season on Saturday at Talladega. Allmendinger has an average finish of 6.1 and 25 top-10 finishes in 28 races. He finished fourth in the 2021 standings after winning five races because he finished 14th and last among the four title contenders at the championship race in Phoenix.
He’s one of the favorites to race for the title again in 2022 and should be among the final four in November.
2023 will be the start of Allmendinger’s third full-time stint in the Cup Series. He came to NASCAR from CART in 2007 and first raced for Red Bull in its foray into NASCAR. He left Red Bull late in the 2008 season and raced for Richard Petty Motorsports through 2011 before joining Team Penske.
Allmedinger’s shot with Penske was the best opportunity of his NASCAR career but that lasted just 17 races before he tested positive for a banned substance midway through the season after taking an Adderall pill.
After returning for the final races of the season with a part-time team, Allmendinger got another full-time chance in 2013 with JTG-Daugherty Racing. He qualified for the first win-and-in Cup Series playoff format in 2014 with the first win of his Cup career at Watkins Glen.
Allmendinger parted ways with JTG-Daugherty at the end of the 2018 season after failing to make the playoffs again. He ran 16 Xfinity Series races over 2019 and 2020 with Kaulig Racing before running full-time to the second-tier series with the team in 2021.