With around two months until the 2022 NASCAR season is officially underway, Cup Series teams are gearing up for the new year with off-season moves that will best serve them in the coming years.
For this week's early round-up of the top headlines in the NASCAR world, we look at two teams — Kauling Racing and 23XI Racing — and how they're looking towards the future with a couple big announcements heading into 2022.
Wheaties Joins the 23XI Racing Family
A week after 23XI Racing revealed an expansion of its support from McDonald's for 2022, the team announced a new sponsor for next year.
Wheaties, the iconic cereal brand, will be on Bubba Wallace's No. 23 car for the Feb. 27 race at Auto Club Speedway.
Welcome to the 23XI family, @wheaties! ?
Can't wait to see the No. 23 Wheaties Toyota Camry TRD hit the track Feb. 27, 2022 at @AutoClubSpdwy.
Tune in to 23XI's IG story tomorrow for an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look as we deliver boxes to fellow athletes & friends! pic.twitter.com/agbgu26oVl
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) December 13, 2021
The team-up is part of a Wheaties 100th anniversary program that will see 23XI Racing co-owner Michael Jordan on a Wheaties box for a record 19th time.
Wheaties last sponsored a Cup team in 2012, culminating in six races with Jeff Burton at Richard Childress Racing.
Kaulig Racing Sets 2022 Cup Series Driver Lineup
Kaulig Racing, which will compete full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series for the first time in 2022, has finalized its driver lineup.
On Tuesday, the team revealed the three drivers who will split time in the No. 16 Chevrolet: A.J. Allmendinger, defending Xfinity Series champion Daniel Hemric, and Noah Gragson.
They join Justin Haley, who will drive full-time in Kaulig's main Cup car.
Adding Hemric and Gragson to the Cup program (Allmendinger was already announced) means three of the drivers who made the Xfinity Championship 4 in 2021 will share one car. The other, Austin Cindric, will drive the No. 2 Ford at Team Penske.
For Hemric, who was the Cup Rookie of the Year in 2019 with Richard Childress Racing, it marks his return to NASCAR's premier circuit. He is set to drive Kaulig Racing's No. 11 car full-time in the Xfinity Series in 2022.
"There was a point in my life I thought I'd never again have the chance to compete against the best stock car drivers in the world," Hemric said in a tweet. "Thanks to (team owner) @MattKaulig (and team president) @C_Rice1 and everyone at @KauligRacing, I now have that opportunity."
There was a point in my life I thought I?d never again have the chance to compete against the best stock car drivers in the world. Thanks to @MattKaulig @C_Rice1 and everyone at @KauligRacing, I now have that opportunity. One big happy family! ? https://t.co/8ftkfGtpjq
— Daniel Hemric (@DanielHemric) December 14, 2021
The team did not state which races Hemric would compete in.
Gragson, who will race full-time again in Xfinity with JR Motorsports, is set for 14 races in the No. 16. He will also attempt to make his Cup debut in the Daytona 500 in Beard Motorsports' No. 62 Chevrolet.
"This is a really unique opportunity I have with Kaulig Racing to be able to share the No. 16 with two of my biggest competitors in the Xfinity Series," Gragson said in press release. "I've had the chance to work with Daniel before, but it will be a new experience working with AJ. We've raced against each other for a few years now, and I think working as teammates will only help us get better as drivers."
Kaulig's Cup announcement comes a week after it completed its driver lineup in the Xfinity Series. In addition to Allmendinger returning to the No. 16 and Hemric driving the No. 11, it will field long-time driver Landon Cassill in the No. 10.
Cassill, 32, has made 510 national NASCAR starts since 2010, including 326 in the Cup Series. But, with support from crypto currency company Voyager, this will arguably be his most competitive opportunity since he raced for JR Motorsports in 2008.
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