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Justin Haley
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Chasing the Cup

26. Justin Haley: New Team, New Dream

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: December 1, 2021, 11:49 am ET

The 2022 NASCAR lineup is going to look significantly different than in 2021. Most of the top contenders will be the same, but with the closure of Chip Ganassi Racing and the sale of its assets to Trackhouse Racing, a major shuffling of charters, and the addition of some new teams, there are a lot of unknowns. Bettors and handicappers cannot slavishly consider last year's stats; in the case of Justin Haley, those numbers are absolutely meaningless.

Driving for Spire Entertainment in 30 races in 2021 and one for Matthew Kaulig, Haley earned seat time that will be valuable in 2022. The circumstances are going to be different, however, because there is every indication that Kaulig Racing is going to make some noise on the track.

They will be supplied with engines from Earnhardt-Childress Racing, so Haley will not lack horsepower.

Kaulig Racing fielded one of the best Xfinity teams in 2021 and AJ Allmendinger challenged for the championship until the very end. He won five times during the season. Haley added one more victory to the team in the fall Daytona race, which was unsurprising given his aptitude for carburetor-restricted superspeedway racing.  

Each time they won, the team owner treated it like his first win – and that enthusiasm radiated through the grandstands.

Kaulig even managed to win a Cup race with Allmendinger behind the wheel on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Driving for Spire Entertainment, Haley earned one of his two top-10s in that same race, which was partially aided by deteriorating track conditions and heavy attrition. As a result, handicappers know to take a closer look at Haley on road courses as well, which is going to make him relevant on several occasions next year.

Haley already has a win at the top level. It came in 2019 in his third career start – and it has a big asterisk that goes along with it. Rain flirted with the track, but NASCAR dried the surface and was one lap away from green when most of the field pitted. Just as they did, the skies opened up and drenched the track again. Winning gives a driver confidence, however, no matter how it's earned.

Haley made just two starts in 2020 and swept the top 15 on plate tracks.

No one is suggesting Haley is going to be a weekly threat. New teams take time to gel and work out the kinks, but we are basing our prediction on a similar team from 2021. No one knew what would happen at Trackhouse this spring, but Daniel Suarez managed to earn one top-five, four top-10s, and 14 top-15s. Haley should be in that range in 2022.

Bettors will not pay much attention to Haley. On the weeks he is likely to challenge for top-10s, he will be in a tight grouping of drivers on plate and road courses and it will be a coin toss as to whether he puts a complete race together.

He could be fantasy relevant, however; cap managers might boost him a little on those track types, but likely won't bother. This gives you an opportunity to sprinkle him into the lineup when you set multiple rosters and if the caution flags wave at the right time, you could come out with a big payday.

Three Best Tracks *
Daytona (6.7 in 3 attempts)
Talladega (23.3 in 4)
Phoenix (25.0 in 2)

Three Worst Tracks *
Kansas (34.5 in 2)
Martinsville (33.0 in 2)
Richmond (32.5 in 2)

2021 Stats
Victories: None (Best finish: 10th, Talladega 1 & Dover)
Top-fives: 0 (.000)
Top-10s: 2 (.064)
Top-15s: 2 (.064)
Top-20s: 3 (.097)

2021 Finishes at or above rank = 10 (32.3%)

* Active tracks with two or more starts

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30. Corey  LaJoie: Look Deeper

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.