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Everything We Know (So Far) About Who Will Drive The Kaulig No. 31 in 2024

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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With NASCAR Silly Season seemingly winding down with teams scrambling to make sure their 2024 lineups are set as we near the end of the first round of the Playoffs, one domino that has yet to fall is in regards to who will be in the Kaulig Racing No. 31 for the 2024 season.

Our friends at Frontstretch Media caught up with Kaulig Racing’s President, Chris Rice to ask about when an announcement might be made about their 2024 plans. Well, Kaulig Racing fans, it would appear that we might be waiting less than a week as Rice revealed plans for an announcement to be made during Bristol race weekend. With the Truck race being held on Thursday night, the Xfinity race being on Friday night, and the Cup Night Race at Bristol being held on Saturday, that means that we are likely less than a week away from knowing for sure who will pilot the No. 31 Kaulig car next year. Let’s jump into it:

It Won’t Be Justin Haley

Before we can get deep into who the driver of the No. 31 will be, we must first state the obvious: the reason the seat is open at all is due to the bombshell announcement earlier in the year that the current driver of the No. 31, Justin Haley will be moving over to Rick Ware Racing in a head-scratching move. Haley has been with Kaulig for many years, dating back to the 2019 Xfinity Series season. So, his departure came as a little bit of a shock which left Kaulig scrambling to find a replacement. What exactly Justin Haley hopes to get out of RWR is to be determined. But, if you’d like to read up on the move, check out this article below:

Allmendinger Expected in the No. 16

When A. J. Allmendinger rejoined the NASCAR Cup Series as a full-time driver in 2023, it left many fans and business insiders comparing it to the situation SHR is currently in with Almirola. Allmendinger had been out of the NASCAR Cup Series as a full-time driver since leaving JTG’s No. 47 following the 2018 season. He returned in the following years on a part-time basis with Kaulig’s developing Cup program before returning full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2021 and put up an impressive run for the championship in the ’22 season, taking the regular season title and winning 5 races on the year. With Kaulig promoting him to be the new driver for 2023, it felt like it was just a move to buy the team some time to develop another driver who could potentially replace him.

However, Haley leaving for Rick Ware has put Kaulig in a bind. So rather than trying to fill two full-time teams in 2024, it would appear that A. J. Allmendinger will be returning to Kaulig in 2024 and will likely remain as the driver for their No. 16 entry. If you want to read more about Allmendinger’s second stint in the Cup Series, check out this Daily Downforce article written by Paige Martin:

“Surprise” Around The Garage

As reported by NASCAR journalist, Austin Konenski, the situation with the No. 31 Kaulig car has been figured out for a few weeks now. Now, from the team President himself, Chris Rice, it would appear that we are very close to hearing what they have in store for Kaulig’s second entry. One of the key nuggets from that Sirius XM radio interview with Rice which Konenski reported is that everyone will be surprised with what they’re doing in regards to the car. My very own Daily Downforce Teammate, Joshua Lipowski did an excellent article speculating on what surprises might be in store for us when it comes to the Kaulig No. 31. You can check out that article here:

But who will it be? Let’s go through the candidates:

Carson Hocevar

Chevrolet seems to be pretty high on Carson Hocevar at the moment. The Truck Series driver is currently competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Playoffs and has three wins so far this season. He has also run some select Xfinity Series races for Spire in a car prepared on the JR Motorsports campus to some pretty good results.

While that certainly points to Hocevar leaving the truck series this year to move up, Hocevar has already competed in a number of Cup Series races this season, leading many fans to believe that he might leapfrog the Xfinity Series entirely and head straight for the Cup Series full-time. If this happens, who are the biggest contenders to land him? It’s rumored that several teams could be in the mix to acquire the immensely talented Carson Hocevar, including Kaulig Racing. If Kaulig could somehow pull it off, it would be a massive upgrade for the organization.

Kaulig is among the possible landing spots for Hocevar come the 2024 season in this article:

Ty Dillon

Since the closure of Germain Racing, Ty Dillon’s career trajectory has been a consistent downward spiral. After a year of racing part-time with Joe Gibb’s racing in the Xfinity Series and under-funded Toyota teams in the Cup Series, Dillion made what he hoped would have been his triumphant return with the then-titled Petty-GMS Racing in their No. 42 entry. He struggled all year, consistently being shown up by his teammate in the No. 43, Erik Jones.

When it was announced that he was being let go in favor of the ill-fortuned Noah Gragson, his career seemed to have hit an all-time low as he was relegated to driving the No. 77 Spire entry, which is essentially their R&D car. With Dillon making part-time starts with RCR’s No. 3 Xfinity Series car and considering RCR’s relationship with Kaulig, maybe Dillion is a key player in landing a ride with the No. 31 car next season. When Ty Dillon raced full-time for Germain, it was RCR’s power behind the scenes that got him into the satellite ride. Hey, stranger things have happened.

Shane van Gisbergen

The last rumored driver to be taking over this ride is a real surprise. The 2023 Chicago Street Course winner, SVG is rumored to at least have talks with Kaulig Racing. While SVG and Justin Marks were both adamant that he’d rather be back in the Project 91 car next year at any capacity (full-time or not), Matt Kaulig does have fairly deep pockets. And, if you remember, it was Justin Haley in the Kaulig No. 31 that SVG had to beat at Chicago and they finished runner-up to him as they crossed the line. Could Kaulig have landed him unlike they failed to land Kyle Busch?

It’s not entirely known who the driver of the No. 31 Kaulig car will be for 2024. But these three drivers are often rumored to be the “surprise” contestants.

In The Stands

John Haas thinks that this news should have already been released or, at least, leaked by Jordan Bianchi. He seems to be tired of the speculation.

Cowboy Racer thinks that maybe Kaulig is spreading itself too thin by jumping up to Cup prematurely. They theorize that being in Cup has hurt their Xfinity team which seems to have fallen in terms of performance in the last several years. I must admit, it did seem like Kaulig had something of a powerhouse similar to JRM before. Now, even though JRM is struggling this year, they still aren’t even close.

Who do you think will take over the No. 31 Kaulig car, DDF readers? Who is this surprise? Will the announcement live up to the hype or will it be a letdown? Let us know your thoughts and keep it right here at dailydownforce.com for all your latest NASCAR news and stories.

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Picture of Cody Williams

Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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