Chris Rice

Justin Haley gets new pit crew ahead of Xfinity Roval race

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CONCORD, N.C. — Kaulig Racing has swapped the pit crews on its two Xfinity Series cars ahead of today’s playoff race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Chris Rice, the team’s president, moved the crew on its No. 10 car over to Justin Haley‘s No. 11 car following the playoff opener at Richmond Raceway. In that race Haley had a penalty for too many crew members over the wall.

Haley finished the race 17th after placing sixth in Stage 1.

“It’s playoff time and we can’t have mistakes,” Rice told NBC Sports.

Haley enters today’s race 11th in the 12-driver playoff standings. He is 20 points behind the final cutoff spot to advance to the second round.

Here’s Haley’s new pit crew lineup

Ian Anderson – Fueler (was on the No. 11 at Richmond)

Terry Spalding – Front Changer

Brian Bottlemy- Rear Changer

Jeremy Holcomb – Tire Carrier

Jordan Paige – Jack

Elliott Sadler to end NASCAR career with late model scheme, crew chief

Kaulig Racing
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This is it for Elliott Sadler, seriously.

Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) will be the last time he competes in NASCAR and auto racing in general.

“One hundred percent sure this is the last time I’ll ever put a helmet on,” Sadler told NBC Sports. “It definitely has a different feel to it than what we had at Homestead.”

Last year, Sadler ended his full-time racing career at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a 14th-place finish.

However, the 17-time NASCAR winner knew a potential opportunity awaited for him to climb behind the wheel again on a limited basis with sponsor Nutrien Ag Solutions.

“But this weekend I know this is the last time,” Sadler said.

His racing career will end with his second start in Kaulig Racing’s No. 10 Chevrolet following a start at Richmond Raceway in April (finished 12th). It will mark his 855th NASCAR start across all three national series.

“That’s a lot isn’t it?” Sadler says after a hearty laugh. “That’s too many. Look, I’m very fortunate. That’s a mind-boggling stat. 855 starts from a little, small-town boy in Emporia, Virginia. That’s a lot of time to strap on a helmet to go racing.”

Sadler, 44, will get to honor his Virginia roots in a way he’d hoped to in the Miami race 10 months ago.

Source: Kaulig Racing

His car will be made to look like the yellow and black No. 16 late model stock car he raced in the mid-90s before he made the jump to the NASCAR stage.

Sadler said Kaulig Racing “caught me off guard” when they surprised him with the scheme Monday.

“I begged my sponsors last year at Homestead to let me run that paint scheme. But it wasn’t meant to be. For (sponsor Nutrien Ag Solutions) to give up a paint scheme to let me do it means a lot,” Sadler says. “(It’s) a paint scheme that is very near and dear to my family. All of my dad’s gas stations and transport trucks and everything are painted the exact same way. So it’s a color that means a lot to us. For (team president) Chris (Rice) and (team owner) Matt (Kaulig) and those guys, everybody at Nutrien Ag Solutions to let us go out with that color. That’s pretty special.”

Adding to the nostalgia is who will be calling the shots for Sadler atop his pit box – Chris Rice.

Rice will return to a role he’s familiar with. He served as Sadler’s crew chief during Sadler’s late model days. Their relationship started in 1992 when Rice began working with Sadler’s brother, Hermie.

“Chris and I kind of pretty much started living together in 1994,” Sadler said. “Then in 1995, we got our breakout season, setting all kinds of records in the late model stock-car world in Southern Virginia. We got a special relationship. I think we helped each other a lot in getting our careers to where they are today. I think we have a lot to be thankful for and it’s pretty cool for it to come full circle to where we first started.”

Together, Sadler and Rice earned the South Boston Speedway track championship in 1995.

Rice was the one who revealed the scheme to Sadler.

Together, Sadler hopes they give the scheme a better send-off than it got the last time he drove it on a late model in 1996 at Martinsville Speedway.

“I think we were in a bad wreck in Martinsville,” Sadler said. “We blew a right-front tire.”

As for the race itself on Saturday, Sadler isn’t going to layover for the young guns who have been competing all season.

“I’m not going out there to play tiddlywinks,” said Sadler. “It’s still racing and I still have a very competitive nature and I want to go compete.”

When it’s all over, win or lose, Sadler will retreat to his retired life. No more sponsor plugs for this former driver.

Right?

“I don’t think that’s true,” said Sadler. “I’ve moved on to my next life, which involves a lot of sponsor plugs and corporate sponsor stuff.”

His new retired life includes leading a traveling baseball and softball organization.

“It’s still a lot to do,” said Sadler. “Maybe the last time having to do (a sponsor plug) with a racing uniform on.”

Kaulig Racing mourns death of crew chief Nick Harrison

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Kaulig Racing President Chris Rice said that when he heard of crew chief Nick Harrison’s death on Sunday morning, he thought back to a conversation they had after Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Justin Haley finished 13th in that race.

“All I could think about with Nick is when he got up on the plane and he came over and talked to me as we were leaving New Hampshire,” Rice said Monday night on “Late Shift” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“He was stressed out that we didn’t run that well. He looked at me and he goes, ‘You know, we sucked there.’ I said, ‘Nick, we have sucked at New Hampshire for a long time. So the good thing is, we’ve changed drivers, we’ve changed crew chiefs, ain’t nothing fixed it, so it’s obviously something, whatever we’re doing.’

“He said, ‘You’re right. We’re going to go get them at Iowa.’ He was worried about the next race.”

Harrison died Sunday. He was 37. Harrison’s brother, Zach, told the Tennessean that a cause of death has not been determined.

“We know that he lived every single day to the fullest,” Rice said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio about Nick Harrison. “That’s what we want to do at Kaulig Racing. Tomorrow when we show up, it is going to be better than what it was today. The next day we show up is going to be better than what it was Monday.”

Rice also said it will be a challenge for the team when they get to the track this weekend at Iowa Speedway.

“We just know that walking into the race track this weekend is going to be tough,” Rice said, “so we need every fan’s support that we can get for all my guys and myself and we’ll definitely make it through it.”

Rice said on “Late Shift” that he will serve as Haley’s crew chief for the foreseeable future.

“You cannot replace Nick,” said Rice, who has served as an Xfinity Series crew chief for 318 races. “We will never replace Nick. We will just have somebody fill his job. But right now we’re not in a hurry to do anything.

“We will definitely be looking and looking at what our next step is. Justin has another year and a half, if not even more, with Kaulig Racing and we will put somebody with him that is going to be there through that time. We don’t want to put somebody that is going to be with us for 10 days or three months or whatever. We will want to look at somebody that is going to help us grow Kaulig Racing.”

Harrison’s service is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET July 30 at Spring Hill High School in Columbia, Tennessee. The family has requested that memorial donations be made to the Nick Harrison Scholarship Fund at First Farmers & Merchants Bank in Spring Hill, Tennessee or Spring Hill Memorial Funeral Home.

“We know it’s going to take time for us to get over the loss of our friend not being here,” Rice said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We will always miss him, but we will never forget him and he’ll always be with us. We’re going to dig like he would want us to dig.

“Once Justin makes the playoffs, it’s going to be in memory of Nick. Once Justin makes it to the final four and goes for that championship, that’s what it’s going to be for.”

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AJ Allmendinger to drive in Watkins Glen Xfinity race for Kaulig Racing

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NASCAR On NBC analyst AJ Allmendinger will climb back behind the wheel for the August 3 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen International.

Allmendinger will pilot the No. 10 Chevrolet for Kaulig Racing for the second time this season.

Allmendinger is a past winner at Watkins Glen, having won the 2014 Cup race there. He has 10 prior Cup starts at the upstate New York road course, with the win, three top-five and six top-10 finishes, plus one pole.

He also has competed in one Xfinity race at Watkins Glen, starting fourth and finishing second for GMS Racing last year.

It’s an honor to be able to compete for Kaulig Racing at one of my favorite tracks, Watkins Glen International,” Allmendinger said in a team release. “I’ve been fortunate enough to win there in the Cup Series and had a strong run finishing second last season in my only Xfinity start there.

Matt Kaulig, Chris Rice and all of the guys made Daytona so enjoyable and fun, I can’t wait to get to The Glen.”

Allmendinger raced for Kaulig Racing two weeks ago in the Circle K Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway on July 5, leading 33 laps and finishing third before the car was disqualified for failing post-race inspection, leaving Allmendinger with a last-place finish in the 38-car field.

Allmendinger has three additional Xfinity road course races scheduled with Kaulig Racing this season: Mid-Ohio (August 10), Road America (August 24) and Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval race (September 28).

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Kaulig Racing ‘slowly’ building to two full-time cars in Xfinity

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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.