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NASCAR: A.J. Allmendinger ‘open’ to big return to the Cup Series in 2023

A.J. Allmendinger is "for sure open" to a return to the NASCAR Cup Series with Kaulig Racing if that is what Matt Kaulig wants him to do in 2023.

Austin Konenski
NASCAR: Cup Practice & Qualifying
Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

A.J. Allmendinger currently runs the No. 16 car for Kaulig Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series but the idea of moving to the Cup Series is something he is “open” to doing if owner Matt Kaulig wants him to do it.

Let’s dive into this latest development for Allmendinger and Kaulig Racing.

A.J. Allmendinger’s statistics in the NASCAR Xfinity Series

NASCAR: Wawa 250
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Allmendinger joined Kaulig Racing during the 2019 season as he attempted five races with the organization. He was disqualified in his first two events and ran three road course races following them.

The 40-year-old driver came home with a third-place finish at Mid-Ohio and earned his first victory with the organization in his final race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.

The following season, Allmendinger attempted 11 races in the No. 16 car and really impressed. He concluded the year with two wins, six top-5 finishes, and eight top-10 finishes with his two victories coming at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Allmendinger finally made the jump to full-time and had an incredible 2021 season. It ended with a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Championship 4 event, but Allmendinger had five wins, 18 top-5 finishes, and 22 top-10 finishes.

The 2022 season has not seen as much success for the 40-year-old, but he did claim the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular-season championship following the event at Bristol Motor Speedway last weekend.

Allmendinger has three wins, 12 top-5 finishes, and 23 top-10 finishes through 26 races. Surprisingly, Allmendinger has already exceeded his top-10 finishes total from last season with seven races left.

Related: Notable events from the NASCAR Xfinity Series Media Day 2022

A.J. Allmendinger ‘open’ to promotion back to the NASCAR Cup Series

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Allmendinger has been asked about the possibility of returning to the NASCAR Cup Series and it is not something that he is flat-out denying. He is open to doing whatever Kaulig Racing asks of him.

In a recent response to a question posted during NASCAR Media Day for the Xfinity Series, Allmendinger stated the following about potentially moving back up.

“I’ve said I’ll do whatever Matt Kaulig wants me to do. I’m enjoying the Xfinity Series a lot, if I do it again next year, I’ll love every minute. But, if they want me to go to Cup I’m for sure open to that.”

A.J. Allmendinger on returning to the NASCAR Cup Series

Kaulig Racing is officially out of the running for Kyle Busch after the announcement of him driving the No. 8 car for Richard Childress Racing next season, so it opens the door for Allmendinger to return full-time.

The 40-year-old has performed well in his 13 starts in the Cup Series this year with one top-5 finish and five top-10 finishes. Allmendinger almost won the race at Watkins Glen International but finished behind Kyle Larson.

Plus, Allmendinger has a 17.4 average finish which is tied with Denny Hamlin and just behind the Richard Childress Racing duo of Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon. It’s clear that he would perform well.

There is also a realistic opportunity for Allmendinger to make the NASCAR playoffs if he were to make the jump. He won the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course during the 2021 season in the No. 16 car as an open team.

Allmendinger has stated that discussions are not taking place right now but it does not mean it is something he is against. If Kaulig picks up the phone, it would not be surprising to see him back at NASCAR’s top level.

Either way, Allmendinger is great for NASCAR and that was apparent during Media Day on Tuesday. Wherever he races next season, it will be fun to follow him over the course of the year.