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Haley to make 100th Cup career start at Kansas

Competing in his second full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series, Justin Haley is within reach of achieving a milestone start. By competing in this weekend’s Playoff event at Kansas Speedway, the driver of the No. 31 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will achieve 100 career starts in NASCAR’s premier series.

A native of Winamac, Indiana, Haley made his inaugural presence in the Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway in April 2019, where he piloted the No. 77 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Spire Motorsports. By then, he was also campaigning in his first full-time season in the Xfinity Series for Kaulig Racing. Starting 38th, Haley ended up in 32nd place after getting collected in a multi-car wreck on the backstretch with seven laps remaining. After finishing 34th in his second Cup career start at Sonoma Raceway in June, Haley pulled off an upset at Daytona International Speedway in July when he achieved his first career victory in the rain-shortened Coke Zero Sugar 400. His road to victory occurred with 30 laps remaining when contact between race leader Austin Dillon and Clint Bowyer triggered a multi-car wreck that eliminated a majority of the field. Haley, who avoided the carnage and moved up into the top five, then became the leader when initial leader Kurt Busch pitted during an extensive caution period and moments before the race was red-flagged due to a lightning strike. With the event remaining under a red flag period for hours, NASCAR called the event official on Lap 127 of 160 and awarded the first Cup win for both Haley and Spire Motorsports as Haley became the 193rd different competitor to achieve a win in NASCAR’s premier series. Despite not qualifying for the 2019 Cup Playoffs due to being a part-time series competitor, the Daytona victory made Haley eligible to compete in the 2020 All-Star Race.

In 2020, Haley, who remained as a full-time Xfinity competitor for Kaulig Racing, campaigned in two Cup events, with his first occurring in the 62nd running of the Daytona 500, where he debuted Kaulig Racing in NASCAR’s premier series. He earned a transfer spot for the 500 after posting the fastest-qualifying time in a non-chartered entry and rallied from being involved in a late incident to finish in 13th place during the main event. Haley went on to finish 14th in the All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway in July and 31st at Talladega in October, both while competing for Spire Motorsports.

For the 2021 season, Haley, who remained at Kaulig in the Xfinity circuit, competed in all but five of the 36-race Cup schedule. Thirty-five of his starts occurred with Spire Motorsports, with his best on-track results being eighth at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course and sixth at Daytona in August. His lone start not with Spire occurred with Kaulig at Talladega in October, where he finished in 20th place. Overall, Haley concluded the season with 21 top-30 results and an average-finishing result of 28.5.

Six months prior to the conclusion of the 2021 season, Kaulig Racing announced that the team would be fielding a full-time Cup Series entry for Haley to drive for the 2022 season. Assuming control of Kaulig’s newly formed No. 31 entry, he commenced the season with a 19th-place result in the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum in February despite winning the third Heat qualifying event and starting towards the front. He proceeded to finish 23rd during the first two scheduled events before posting four consecutive top-20 results. At Darlington Raceway in May, Haley posted his first top-five result of the season by finishing third. Despite finishing seventh at Atlanta Motor Speedway in July and achieving 15 top-20 results throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch, he did not qualify for the 2022 Cup Playoffs. Haley went on to tie his season-best result of the season in third place at Texas Motor Speedway in September before finishing fifth at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course in October. He ended up recording a total of three top-five results, four top-10 results, 44 laps led and an average-finishing result of 18.4 throughout the 36-race schedule before capping off his first full-time Cup season in 22nd place in the final standings.

Commencing this season with a 32nd-place finish in this year’s Daytona 500, Haley recorded three top-10 results during the first 17-scheduled events, with his best on-track finish being a sixth-place run at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Course in April. Then during the inaugural Chicago Street Course, he assumed the lead on Lap 48 and led through Lap 70 until he was overtaken by eventual winner Shane van Gisbergen and ended up in a strong runner-up result. Despite finishing eighth during the following weekend at Atlanta, seven consecutive results of finishes outside the top 15 were not enough to boost Haley and the No. 31 team into the Playoffs for a second consecutive season. Coming off a 31st-place finish at Darlington, the Indiana native is currently situated in 24th place in the standings with a total of five top-10 results and an average-finishing result of 20.6 through 27 events. This season is also scheduled to be Haley’s last at Kaulig as he is set to join Rick Ware Racing for the 2024 Cup season.

Through 99 previous Cup starts, Haley has achieved one victory, five top-five results, 12 top-10 results, 72 laps led and an average-finishing result of 22.1.

Haley is primed to make his 100th Cup Series career start at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, September 10, with the event’s coverage to occur at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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