Photo credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography

Kaulig Racing finds answers during Nashville Xfinity race

LEBANON, Tenn. -- Kaulig Racing has not been in regular contention for Xfinity oval wins this season, but Saturday's race at Nashville Superspeedway provided the team with some answers about how it can get back to its winning ways.

None of the three full-time drivers captured the win, but this was not due to a lack of speed, an issue that has plagued the team at times this season.

"(Nashville was) 100% a reset week and it showed that we've been missing it," Kaulig Racing President Chris Rice told AltDriver after Saturday's race. "We made big gains today and failed in the pits. That's the way it rolls."

AJ Allmendinger, the defending winner of the Nashville Xfinity race, led the way for Kaulig Saturday at the 1.33-mile track. He qualified fourth and scored a race-high 18 stage points. Allmendinger was in contention for the win in the final stage before the race's only caution for a multi-car incident.

The final pit stop of the day is what derailed Allmendinger's afternoon.

An issue on the right-rear tire of the No. 16 Chevrolet Camaro caused Allmendinger to lose several positions. He restarted the race ninth and only worked his way up to seventh before the checkered flag flew on Lap 188.

"We failed on pit road," Rice said. "We haven't failed on pit road all year. So I'm not mad about it. We just had one guy who was out and that was the Achilles heel."

Losing out on an opportunity to win due to a slow pit stop can certainly be frustrating, but it is arguably better than simply failing to have the speed to contend with Stewart-Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, JR Motorsports, and the other Xfinity teams.

Kaulig Racing will get back the crew member who missed Saturday's Xfinity race. This will help prevent future issues on pit road road.

What matters for the team is that multiple cars had speed.

Allmendinger was the main Kaulig driver in the spotlight because he spent the entire race inside the top 10, but Shane van Gisbergen began making passes with greater ease in the final stage. He just had to spend the first two stages working on his handling and his corner entrances at a track where he had never raced.

"The most important thing is our Celsius Chevy was pretty quick today," Allmendinger said after the race. "All we are searching for is speed.

"Of course, we want to win the race, but at the end of the day, we need to keep finding speed. If we run like we did today at other tracks, the wins will come."

Allmendinger, Kaulig's winningest driver, has been an integral part of the team since he began making starts for it back in 2019. He has won 15 Xfinity races and two Cup races in Kaulig cars, he has won the Xfinity regular-season championship twice, and he has reached the Championship 4.

Allmendinger has also been able to provide crucial feedback over the years. He has been a constant presence within the organization who could highlight weaknesses and strengths after every race.

However, Allmendinger has been unable to provide as much feedback this season as Kaulig has struggled with consistency. He told AltDriver after a fifth-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May that he was "tapped out" and didn't know what information to provide.

Allmendinger said Saturday at Nashville that nothing has changed regarding being tapped out, but Rice saw significant signs of progress.

"He hadn't drove these things in a year (while running full-time in Cup) and hadn't had a chance to be able to know what's right or wrong," Rice explained. "Now he can help us.

"He got out after practice and calmed down and helped us. And we made it a lot better in qualifying and made it a lot better in racing."

The result of the feedback is that Kaulig found speed at Nashville Superspeedway, a track where the team has previous success.

Now, the next step is bringing that speed to other oval tracks on the schedule. This will be no simple feat, but there is some optimism after a hot day in Middle Tennessee.

"I'm looking forward to taking this (car) to Pocono now we know what's up," Rice said. "...I'm excited about that."