Chris Rice says Kaulig Racing has ‘good things coming down the pipe’ amidst NASCAR reset

The company also has the deck stacked at Chicago with Shane Van Gisbergen and AJ Allmendinger

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Credit: Kristin Enzor/For IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Chris Rice isn’t mincing words on the current state of Kaulig Racing.

“Yeah, so I mean, we’ve just run terrible,” Rice told Sportsnaut on Friday in Downtown Chicago. “Like we’ve been slow pretty much everywhere we went with the Xfinity cars that we haven’t had any speed. So, it was time to reset.”

While Rice certainly wants to be better at the Cup Series level with Daniel Hemric and their star car, he is more focused on the Xfinity Series side because he just thinks there is more to unlock there based on previous successful campaigns with that platform.

Both AJ Allmendinger and Josh Williams are winless into the summer but Shane Van Gisbergen has won twice on road courses while gradually improving his oval game.

“We knew we were good at Nashville (last year) so we went back and looked at all those notes and looked at everything we did,” Rice said. “We were actually pretty decent and we figured out some things where we were missing it at so that’s the process of trying to get better when we go to all these other race tracks.

“It’s still a work in progress with Josh but we’re started down the road of figuring it out and I do feel good about where we finished Nashville. We had a shot to win the race (with Allmendinger) and ran top-three was good and I feel good about that too.”

Has it been especially frustrating to suffer setbacks with both the Xfinity and Cup Series simultaneously? And are they related at all?

“Yeah, it’s two different problems,” Rice said. “We are aligned with RCR and they’re bad too. Like, we are just as fast as they are … And by the way, when I say slow, we’re just talking to two or three tenths, right? But that’s bottom of the barrel.”

It’s all relative with the NextGen car.

“Yeah, it’s relative,” he agreed. “So I mean, you know, it’s not for lack of effort. We’ve had a lot of talks with Richard (Childress) and I’ve flown a lot with him and had a lot of talks with Danny Lawrence, Mike Verlander and all those guys.

“It’s going to be get better. A lot of changes are coming and a lot of things are happening. And I mean there are a lot of things happening with our race team.”

That means, once again, a reiteration that Matt Kaulig is not interested in getting out of NASCAR. He’s interested in running better and winning races en masse again.

“Well there’s always pressure when you don’t run well but the challenge is that everyone in the shop hears what is being said in the media, that we’re leaving or going out of business, worried about their future.

“Let me tell you something, Matt Kaulig has 80 companies and has been very upfront about looking for investors, looking for growth partners and sponsors. I’ve been upfront with that and there’s some good things coming down the pipe and hopefully we can announce them sooner rather than later.

“We had a meeting, for example, here in Chicago that we’re hoping could lead to something really good down the road.

“But it all moves at a crawling space right? We’re not walking yet. But Matt Kaulig isn’t going anywhere. He’s 51 years old and intends to be here through his 70s and 80s. We will get back to where we need to be. We’ve still won two trophies with SVG and I’m here to tell you, NASCAR trophies at any level are hard to come by.”

Rice conceded again ‘that we aren’t setting the world on fire right now’ but that incremental progress is being made. He’s also got a handful of chances to win this weekend on the streets of Chicago with both Van Gisbergen, the defending winner, and Allmendinger racing in both divisions.

“It’s harder in some ways this weekend because there’s expectation,” Rice said. “People don’t understand that but you can’t have anything break or fall off. We did a horrible job calling the race at COTA for SVG.

“We have to put our Ps and Qs together in both divisions. We have the drivers. It’s my job to make sure nothing falls off or breaks. We are prepared and ready to go.

“Our pit crews don’t mess up and if we call the race right, we like our chances. We expect to win. That’s why we’re here but that does make this weekend harder on us in some ways.”

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.

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