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Who Could Drive the 31 for Kaulig Racing?

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The latest domino to drop in NASCAR Silly Season was a surprising one. Justin Haley will be moving on from Kaulig Racing to Rick Ware Racing next year. A surprising move that has been met with many questions from fans, but it does open up an interesting seat in the Cup Series next year. Who are the candidates to driver the 31 car for Kaulig Racing next year?

Chandler Smith

Current Team: Kaulig Racing (Xfinity Series)

This may be the most likely option for Kaulig Racing. Smith already races for the team in the Xfinity Series, and he has had his breakout season. After making the Championship Four in the Truck Series for Kyle Busch in 2022, Smith won his first Xfinity Series race this year at Richmond, and he currently sits fifth in the points standings. Kaulig likely wants another young gun to replace Haley, and Smith is a good option for that.

Shane Van Gisbergen

Current Team: Triple Eight Race Engineering (Australian Supercars)

SVG has become the hottest free agent of NASCAR silly season after his incredible win at the Chicago Street Race. The issue became what team could pick him up with so many dominoes still to fall in NASCAR Silly Season. Kaulig could be the first entry in the SVG sweepstakes, and being first can be a major advantage.

Zane Smith

Current Team: Front Row Motorsports (Craftsman Truck Series)

Zane Smith has made it very clear that he wants to go Cup Series racing in 2024. He is under contract with Front Row Motorsports through 2026, but, he has shown enough potential that somebody may put up a “can’t refuse” offer to buy him out. Kaulig is an opportunity for Smith to do what he has wanted to do for years, go Cup Series racing.

Todd Gilliland

Current Team: Front Row Motorsports (Cup Series)

Todd Gilliland is in an interesting position at Front Row Motorsports. He has shown potential, but there is question about whether or not there is room for him there with the recent rise of Zane Smith and Michael McDowell. If Gilliland is not asked to come back to Front Row, or feels as if he has better prospects elsewhere, Kaulig Racing could be a great place to go.

Cole Custer

Current Team: Stewart-Haas Racing (Xfinity Series)

Cole Custer has experienced a career resurgence in the Xfinity Series this season with two wins so far. With Stewart-Haas Racing is in rebuilding mode in the Cup Series, Custer may not want to go back there if something like Kaulig comes along. Maybe all that Cole Custer needs is an opportunity with a team that is not on a downward trend like SHR was when he was there.

Many people did not have this ride as a potentially open one for next year, but things change quickly in NASCAR silly season. What could the next domino to fall in NASCAR silly season be following this surprising move?

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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