Josh Williams will drive the No. 11 Chevrolet for Kaulig Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2024 with primary sponsorship from Alloy Employer Services, the team announced Thursday.
Williams has ground through the Xfinity Series for years, running the majority of the tour‘s events since 2018 in lesser-funded equipment. Then came a call over the summer from leadership at Kaulig Racing. Now, Williams prepares to step into a car with a team that made a deep run into the NASCAR Playoffs in 2023.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” Williams told NASCAR.com. “It’s one of those deals where, a lot of times, you don’t see a driver like me get the opportunity to run for a team like that. Super excited about it, though, man. I think we‘re gonna have a lot of fun and run up front all year long.”
The 30-year-old Floridian competed full-time in 2023 with DGM Racing, the team with which he‘s made 167 of his 186 Xfinity Series starts. Williams also has two ARCA Menards Series wins to his name, both of which came in 2016, the year he made his Xfinity debut.
In those 186 starts, Williams has just 11 top-10 finishes — all with DGM. What‘s particularly noteworthy is that those career-best results came at about any track type imaginable, including short tracks, superspeedways, intermediates and the in-between ovals along the way. His personal best so far is a sixth-place finish at Kansas Speedway in 2020.
Now comes the reward: After years of seeking better chances, an opportunity came to him this time.
“Josh Williams has fought tooth and nail for everything in his racing career, and we‘re really excited to have him race for us,” Chris Rice, president of Kaulig Racing, said in a press release. “We love his energy and passion at the track, and we think his personality and drive will fit right in with the Kaulig Racing culture.”
Talks didn’t just spark recently either, according to Williams.
“We started working on this deal actually last year, just kind of having some conversations and kind of developing the friendship a little bit,” he said. “And then this year, it kind of got a little bit more serious. They felt like I was a good fit over there for those guys and what they’re trying to accomplish.
“This is a tough sport. You know, there’s only so many seats, and there’s way more drivers than seats. It’s a cool opportunity, man. And, you know, I know a lot of the guys that work over there at Kaulig. I‘ve known them all the way back from the ARCA days. There’s quite a few of us in the shop that have had relationships over the past 10 or 15 years. I think it’s gonna be really good, man. They‘ve got really fast race cars and really good people and a lot of resources.”
With better equipment comes higher expectations. Kaulig Racing placed both Chandler Smith and Daniel Hemric in the Xfinity Series postseason in 2023, with Smith winning at Richmond Raceway and its third full-time car victorious three times — twice with AJ Allmendinger and once with Kyle Larson.
“There’s always pressure, right?” Williams said. “In years past, it’s like, ‘Well, I mean, shoot, Josh finished 10th. That’s awesome. They’re not supposed to do that.‘ But now it’s like, ‘Oh man. Josh finished 10th. They should have won the race.‘ So yeah, there’s a little bit of pressure there. But you know, it’s gonna come to us for sure. And then once everybody kind of gets to see each other, and we all start jiving and everybody’s rowing in the same direction, I think we’re going to be up front every week.”
Such is the difference between racing mid-pack in less-funded equipment as opposed to the front of the field on a consistent basis.
“When you’re driving for a smaller team, and you know you’re limited on resources, you’re limited on cars,” Williams explained, “you‘ve kind of got to take a different approach at the way you drive, the way you race, the way you handle the race. So I’ve kind of got to prepare myself to race a little bit different, kind of be more aggressive from start to finish and really push the equipment every lap because you know that it’s got the ability to win races.”
Alloy Employer Services, which the press release states focuses on proactive claims management for workplace injuries and risk management, began its relationship with Williams in 2020 and has sponsored him at both DGM Racing and BJ McLeod Motorsports.
“Josh Williams represents the spirit of racing as we know and love it,” said Alloy CMO Chris Estey. “We are excited and confident in his potential for the 2024 season. His blend of competitive edge, skill and sportsmanship promotes a super opportunity for him and all his sponsors. For all of us to be aligned with Kaulig Racing produces a powerful recipe.”
Kaulig Racing noted Alloy will be joined by “a host of long-term and new partners who have been with Williams throughout his (Xfinity) career.”
Of course, a retrospective on Williams‘ past wouldn‘t be complete without a stop at the spring Xfinity race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where Williams parked his No. 92 Chevrolet on the frontstretch for officials to retrieve after being told to park by NASCAR.
The walk-off incurred a one-race suspension for Williams for disobeying a NASCAR request, but it also brought the spotlight to Williams‘ personality, allowing him to highlight the charitable work he does away from the track.
Since 2015, Williams has visited more than 150 hospitals to meet with sick children and families around the country, forming a relationship with the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, which helps build closed circuit television and radio studios in children‘s hospitals to better the experience for their patients. Additionally, Williams has continued to collect painted handprints from each child to run on the hood of his race car in the season finale, bringing them even closer to the action.
Always one of my favorite schemes of the year! ud83dudd90ufe0f
— Josh Williams (@Josh6williams) November 1, 2023
“It makes you appreciate life 100%,” Williams said of his visits. “You know, I tell all my guys here at JW Motorsports, I’m like, listen, you guys think you’re having a bad day? You‘re not having a bad day. You know, you need to appreciate what you have and just keep pushing forward and, you know, make the best out of each opportunity because there’s somebody out there that’s, they are having a bad day, whether they know it or not.
“And working with the kids and being around the families and stuff like that, it means a lot to me. And if I can give back just a little bit of my time and try to make their day just a little bit easier and take their mind off of things for a little while, that’s what means most.”
Grassroots racing is near and dear to Williams‘ heart. JW Motorsports, his aforementioned team, fields anything from go-karts at Millbridge Speedway to Bandoleros at Charlotte Motor Speedway‘s Summer Shootouts to limited late models and late model stocks at local short tracks, all in the name of giving younger drivers a chance to develop as racers.
“The grassroots racing has changed a ton in probably like the past 10 years,” Williams said. “You know, you don’t really see a lot of parents that take their kids to the race track and be competitive anymore. They’re either affiliated with a team or a person that does this full-time. And I try to bring that old-school racer back. I try to teach the kids how to work on their car, try to teach the parents the best, cost-effective way to run all year long instead of running minimal races just to try to keep the dollar going.
“And it’s really hard right now to be competitive in any form of racing, whether you’re racing the CARS Tour late model stock or you’re racing go-karts at Millbridge. It‘s super tough, so just trying to teach people what I’ve been taught over the years, saving money and trying to do things the right way.”