By: Ashley McCubbin
Whether it was Kaulig Racing’s win celebration at Talladega Superspeedway, or seeing the smile on A.J. Allmendinger’s face in victory lane on Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, it seems he is having a really fun season behind the wheel.
With everything going well, it only begs the question – what if it could into a full-time deal?
“If the opportunity was (there) to go full-time, I’d definitely talk about it and enjoy it,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “But I’ll be honest – I have the best of the both worlds in working for NBC Sports and going to cover the IMSA race like I have to do now, and working with those guys on that side of it is so enjoyable, and showing up at the races that we choose and being fast makes it a lot of fun.
“It’s what I told Chris Rice and Matt Kaulig – I’ll race as much as you want to as I’m having a lot of fun.”
The season statistics back up his sentiments, as the win marked his second of the year following a victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway, with six top-five’s and eight top-10’s in 10 starts. It marks a huge contrast to his last five seasons spent in the NASCAR Cup Series, where he only had one win, six top-five’s and 27 top-10’s in 180 races.
“I’ll be honest, being able to do it like we have has brought back the love of racing and the enjoyment,” Allmendinger admitted. “I still – as Chris will attest to, put so much pressure on myself when I get in the car so it doesn’t look like I’m having fun but I truly am, because I know we’re all in this like a family and we’re all trying to make each other truly better. If we don’t win or we’re battling there and I don’t come out on top, I know they’ll have my back and I’ll do the same. When you can be in an organization like that, that’s all that matters. That’s what makes it enjoyable.”
As far as possibly doing a full schedule with another team, that’s something Allmendinger isn’t ready to put on the table with how much he is having at Kaulig Racing.
“It starts with Matt Kaulig, and then goes to Chris Rice, and extends to the rest of the team; it’s just a fun energy,” he expressed. “You’re getting to drive racecars and contend up front, and I’ve had a lot of fun with Ross and Justin as my teammates.”
Kaulig Racing General Manager Chris Rice would certainly entertain the idea of Allmendinger running full-time, but admits it comes down to funding.
“It takes funding to make this happen but we’re having a lot of fun with A.J.,” Rice said. “So I don’t put anything out of the box with Matt Kaulig and Leaf Filter Gutter Protection and everybody in Ohio. We’ve got Ellsworth Advisors which has stepped up and been on AJ’s car all year and has loved it, and it’s been fun. If you haven’t been to their website, it’s fun and cool.
“It’d be fun to have AJ run a full season, but AJ pushes us – whether he runs full-time, 12 races, five races, whatever. But I think we have some cool stuff coming so we’ll let everything calm down before we start announcing.”