Sunday, January 16, 2022

Kaulig Racing culture plays a key role in trophy hunting [EXCLUSIVE]

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Kaulig Racing has only competed in NASCAR since 2016, but the team has a combined 15 wins in the Xfinity and Cup Series. Good equipment and reliable partners play a role, but the in-house culture brings a significant competitive advantage.

Kaulig Racing owner Matt Kaulig and team president Chris Rice shared this insight during a meeting with Heavy on Jan. 13. Rice explained that the level of intensity increases dramatically during Cup Series events, whether they’re training sessions or full-fledged races. He sees how the stress can spill over to other teams and potentially negatively impact their performance, so he’s focused on keeping the Kaulig Racing culture alive and keeping everyone relaxed.

Does this approach of focusing on fun and positivity lead to wins during the season? It’s hard to argue with the 2021 season of the Xfinity series. AJ Allmendinger has won five times, secured the regular-season championship, and reached the championship four times. Justin Haley and Jeb Burton, who joined Our Motorsports for the 2022 season, both made the playoffs after wins at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

“1,000%. Yes,” Rice said of competitive advantage. “Our team did the most laps yesterday at Daytona. We ran about 130 laps. We drove a complete cup race and [the crew chiefs] were okay because they knew that’s what we want. We want to have fun with it. We need to give Daniel Hemric some time, give Justin Haley some time. These guys who know the easy feeling and have a plan before they go there and understand what the vision is, work.

“We know that walking in a cup garage increases the intensity. Everybody says: ‘Oh, we have to win.’ I look at it, even on a test, and I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s not good.’ If we can keep our culture the way it is – and that’s what [Matt Kaulig] allows us to do this – we will have a competitive advantage. Will we win next year? Man, this is gonna be really hard. It’s going to be really difficult. But are we going to go there every week and try to win? Absolutely.”

Kaulig Racing doesn’t hide the fact that the team also likes to have fun when chasing trophies. The drivers – Allmendinger in particular – show their big personality, while Kaulig and Rice spend a lot of time cracking jokes and interacting with the fans throughout the race weekend. Even the social media team got involved by including Justin Haley as the “pixie on the shelf” in various scenes.

This approach is not made for social media. It comes from those responsible for the organization. Kaulig has made it clear that he would like to compete in NASCAR, and he has partnered with a team president who thinks the same way.

“I keep saying, ‘If this isn’t fun, I’m not doing it.’ I have different jobs and ways to earn money,” explained Kaulig. “We do this because it’s fun and it’s super awesome to be in NASCAR. Right? And having race teams and doing that. But it’s fun.”

However, this emphasis on fun doesn’t mean the team takes the sport any less seriously than everyone else. Kaulig and Rice both realize what’s at stake, and they put in hours and hours of work to ensure everyone in the building continues to have a home.

“And not to take it lightly, because we’re deadly serious about winning and striving for it, and we recognize that this is people’s careers,” Kaulig continued. “All our drivers. I mean that’s her dream. This is her career. This is Chris’ career. That’s everyone in the race shop and our PR team. It’s their career and we want everyone to have a great experience and share in the winning.”

“It’s something Matt taught me that allows us to run a race team,” added Rice. “This pandemic hit, Matt Kaulig, was the first to send out a video to everyone, every member of the race team. ‘Nothing changes. We have to win, we have to win, we have to win. Nothing changes. Your salary will not change. Nothing changes.’ So that’s what Matt did.”

Kaulig Racing has used its culture to find success in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, but now the team is taking on a new challenge. The 2022 season will be the first time Kaulig Racing has used full-time competitors in both the Xfinity Series and the Cup Series.

The Cup Series lineup will feature Haley as the full-time driver of the #31 Chevrolet Camaro. The No. 16 will have Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric and Allmendinger as a rotating line-up of drivers. The Xfinity series lineup consists of Hemric (#11), Allmendinger (#16), and Landon Cassill (#10).

Competing against the Cup Series and the Xfinity Series at the same time will not be an easy task. The competition takes place on a different level on Sunday afternoon. However, Kaulig Racing will enter the 2022 season knowing that all four drivers have the talent behind the wheel to compete for victories. Allmendinger has already proven this by winning the race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on August 15, 2021.

Another factor that will help Kaulig Racing prepare for the new challenge is the continued focus on culture. The team will enjoy the fun of the Cup Series as well as the ‘Rookie’ title that will accompany their first full season.

“The Cup Series, I mean we’re so new to this and we recognize so much that we’re young and our drivers are young and our crew chiefs… it’s such a good, great place to be there be,” Kaulig said. “It’s just fun for us. I mean this is our first time running full time charters in the Cup Series and so we want this to be just a fun rookie year experience for our boys and for us. And then we’ll see what we can do.

“We actually have great racers in these cars. We have great people building these cars and Chevrolet has been absolutely fantastic. Our partners at RCR [Richard Childress Racing] and Chris, I mean everyone has a lot of experience actually. We don’t even go into this as beginners. But we kind of treat it that way.”

Kaulig Racing will make its full-time cup debut on February 6th during the Busch Light Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum. The team will then compete at the season-opening Daytona 500 on February 20th.

CONTINUE READING: Cody Ware has his schedule for the 2022 season

Competing against the Cup Series and the Xfinity Series at the same time will not be an easy task. The competition takes place on a different level on Sunday afternoon. However, Kaulig Racing will enter the 2022 season knowing that all four drivers have the talent behind the wheel to compete for victories. Allmendinger has already proven this by winning the race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on August 15, 2021.

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