Matt Kaulig grew up around and always had a passion for the sport of auto racing.

Kaulig took that passion for motorsports, married it with his business acumen and created Kaulig Racing, whose main car in the NASCAR Xfinity Series is sponsored by the very company he heads up in Hudson, Ohio, LeafFilter Gutter Protection.

“As a kid, we went to the Indy 500 every year,” said Kaulig, a graduate of The University of Akron business school. “My dad worked for Raybestos Brakes, which is a brake parts company. They had some sponsorships in NASCAR, so in going to the NASCAR races and Indy Car races, it was awesome. Racing is a fun, awesome sport. Having the opportunity to be a company owner, I wanted to get involved.

“I had the opportunity, as an owner of LeafFilter Gutter Protection, to sponsor a NASCAR team here in 2014. I sponsored two races in 2014, and then, in 2015, got into the Xfinity Series. As the season progressed, being entrepreneurial that I am, said, ‘Hey, instead of being a sponsor, what would it look like if I started my own team?’ I talked to a couple guys that I knew, made a couple connections and just started our own race time.”

Currently, LeafFilter is the largest gutter protection company in the country with 35 offices in the United States and Canada, and they are carrying over that success and passion into NASCAR, where Kaulig Racing has a 15,000 square foot race shop in Welcome, North Carolina.

The commitment has worked well for Kaulig Racing, as Blake Koch, driver of the No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection car, took the team to a seventh-place finish in last year’s Xfinity Series standings.

“Our team is special, man,” Koch said. “Matt Kaulig, he’s a great team owner, and he also owns LeafFilter Gutter Protection, who’s our sponsor, so it’s great. He’s able to control all of the aspects of the marketing side and what the sponsor wants because he is the sponsor.

“(GM and crew chief) Chris Rice has been a friend of mine even before Kaulig Racing, so to see him build this race team to what it is today and hire all of the great people we have here working at Kaulig Racing -- we have 90 percent of the same people we had last year -- we’ll just keep on rolling into next year and keep getting better and better.”

NASCAR’s season gets underway on Sunday, February 26 with the Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway, but before “The Super Bowl of Racing,” the Xfinity Series kicks off its schedule with the Powershares QQQ 300 on Saturday, February 25.

And Koch has a focused mindset not just for the opening weekend, but the entire 33-race season.

“We’re going on the racetrack to win this year, and then, also, to make that chase and go for the championship,” Koch said. “We have a lot of goals. We set our goals high, but the good news is, we have an owner in Matt Kaulig and a sponsor, LeafFilter, to give us the resources we need to build fast race cars.

“Exciting isn’t even the right word. I don’t think there is a word to describe what I feel. The season ends and you have such a good year, you just can’t sleep at night thinking about getting started again. I’m just pumped up to get back behind the wheel of this car and get to Daytona.”