Justin Haley won his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Talladega on Saturday, securing the second checkered flag for Kaulig Racing this season. Runner-up Ross Chastain, another Kaulig driver, took home the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash prize money.
Haley, who is just 21, has three NASCAR Truck Series victories, won with GMS Racing during the 2018 season. Last year, with Spire Motorsports, Haley scored his first NASCAR Cup Series win in a rain-shortened Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona. A NASCAR Xfinity Series win proved to be more elusive.
An Xfinity driver with Kaulig since 2019, Haley came close to winning a NASCAR Xfinity race before accomplishing the feat on Saturday. Last year, he was runner-up in the Circle K Firecracker 250 at Daytona. Coming into Saturday, he’d posted three top-five Xfinity finishes, including a third-place finish in the EchoPark 250 at Atlanta.
Haley’s NASCAR triple-crown win isn’t just a testament to his individual achievement. It’s also about the success and coalescence of the Kaulig team.
Kaulig Racing Finds its Xfinity Groove
Founded by Matt Kaulig, CEO of LeafFilter Gutter Protection, Kaulig Racing debuted with the #11 car in 2016. While competitive, Kaulig was winless until 2019. That was the year that Kaulig decided to race three cars at Daytona. In part, the decision was motivated by the availability of Ross Chastain.
Chastain lost his 2019 Xfinity ride after Chip Ganassi Racing was victimized by the DC Solar Ponzi scheme. Kaulig seized the opportunity.
Chastain ended up winning in Daytona, giving Kaulig its inaugural Xfinity win. Meanwhile, Kaulig’s remaining two drivers — Haley and AJ Allmendinger — finished in second and third place, respectively. While Allmendinger’s car would eventually be disqualified, that race was a harbinger of Kaulig’s ascendancy.
A few months later, Allmendinger found vindication in Charlotte, giving Kaulig Racing a second Xfinity victory. While Allmendinger was happy with that 2019 win, it wasn’t on an oval track. And that was getting to be an issue.
Allmendinger Overcomes Oval Curse
Allmendinger’s Xfinity victories all had one thing in common — none of them were on ovals. In his long racing career, the 38-year old had never won a race on an oval track until this month.
On June 6, Allmendinger won the EchoPark 250 in Atlanta, overcoming his 30th-place starting position. The victory was Kaulig Racing’s third. More importantly, it broke Allmendinger’s oval curse.
“Oh my god. I won on an oval,” Allmendinger said. “All I ever wanted to do was win on an oval.”
Better yet, the win put Allmendinger in the running for NASCAR’s “Dash 4 Cash” race at Homestead-Miami.
Allmendinger, a part-time driver, wasn’t necessarily slated for Miami. But, after he qualified for the Dash 4 Cash, Kaulig put him in. That was lucky for Allmendinger and his crew since he secured the $110,000 in prize money. A week later, Chastain took down the Dash 4 Cash for his crew.
Two wins in the last four races. 🏆🏆
Two #Dash4Cash wins in the last two races. 💰💰
— Kaulig Racing (@KauligRacing) June 22, 2020
June was a good month for Kaulig Racing. Its drivers won two Xfinity races and two Dash 4 Cash races. That’s the kind of momentum that doesn’t escape the notice of team owners, sponsors, drivers — or sports bettors.