Kaulig Racing has a plan for the future.
That plan is being executed “slowly on purpose,” according to team president Chris Rice, but it is being built with the intention of the Xfinity Series team fielding two full-time cars in 2020.
That plan, which involves fielding the No. 10 Chevrolet in select races this year, is being helped by multiple drivers, including Elliott Sadler.
Sadler competed in last Friday’s race at Richmond Raceway, the first of two scheduled starts this year, and finished 12th.
Rice, who appeared on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” on Wednesday, explained how Sadler came to be involved with the team a year after his retirement from full-time racing and how a second car is helping rookie Justin Haley.
“I’m very good friends with Elliott,” said Rice. “Lived with Elliott. We still talk on a daily basis.”
Sadler came to Rice in the weeks before he announced his retirement from full-time racing last year. He let Rice know he had a sponsor, Nutrien Ag Solutions, that “I’ve got to do something else with it.”
At the end of January, the team announced Chastain – a watermelon farmer away from the track – would compete in three races for the team with the sponsor.
“It’s a perfect fit for Ross Chastain,” Rice said. “Elliott is giving back like what was given to him with Dale Jarrett with Ross Chastain. He’s doing kind of the same thing. … So it just worked out perfectly.”
Chastain competed for Kaulig in the season-opener at Daytona, leading 23 laps and finishing 13th.
While Chastain competes mainly for JD Motorsports in Xfinity, he will make his second of four starts with Kaulig Racing next weekend at Talladega. He’ll return to the No. 10 at Chicagoland Speedway (June 29) and Texas Motor Speedway (Nov. 2).
But the No. 10 effort doesn’t stop with Chastain or Sadler, who makes his second start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Sept. 14). Austin Dillon will make a second start in the car at Charlotte (May 25).
NASCAR on NBC analyst AJ Allmendinger also will drive the No. 10 in “quite a few races” that have yet to be announced. Rice said there are a number of open races on the car the team is looking to fill.
Everything done with the No. 10 is done with the intention of helping Haley, who Rice said has a two-year deal with Kaulig to drive the No. 11 Chevrolet. Through eight races with crew chief Nick Harrison, the rookie has six top 10s and a best finish of seventh twice.
Kaulig fields its cars with technical assistance from Richard Childress Racing. Kaulig is based in RCR’s Welcome, North Carolina campus.
“I think it’s a challenge for anybody when you don’t go each and every week and you’re kind of sporadic,” Rice said. “We have built our program slowly on purpose.
“We want to be ready when we go to the race track. We want that car to be helpful to the 11 car. We don’t want it to take away from the 11 car. That’s what we do. … It’s not two teams. It’s one team building two cars and that’s the way we work on them in the shop. Everybody works on everything. We have enough equipment to do it, we have enough stuff to do it, we have enough people, so it’s not that difficult. Just racing each and every week helps you to get into the swing of things.”
Rice, who was crew chief on the No. 11 for its first three years in the series, said the team puts an emphasis on people when putting together its No. 10 operation.
“Can you get the quality people and the people that you need to be able to mix in with the group that you already have?” Rice said. “Because if you get a bunch of people that do not get along, then it doesn’t work right. That’s in any business. I think it all revolves around people. I think about Stewart-Haas (Racing) and Hendrick (Motorsports) and those guys when they built those programs from one-car teams all the way up.”
This article has been corrected to state that Austin Dillon will compete in the May race in Charlotte, not the playoff race.