It was last July when Justin Haley announced he would drive for Rick Ware Racing (RWR) in the NASCAR Cup Series beginning in 2024, but other pertinent details such as car number and crew chief were unknown despite the multiyear agreement.
With NASCAR’s 76th season just 18 days away with the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum Feb. 4 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, RWR can confirm that Haley will drive its No. 51 Ford Mustang with crew chief Chris Lawson.
“Justin is an exceptionally talented racecar driver and all of us at RWR are looking forward to having him in our equipment,” said Ware, whose eponymous team celebrated its 20th NASCAR anniversary in 2023. “We’re building RWR into a competitive NASCAR team that is on par with the success we enjoyed last year in drag racing and motorcycle racing. Justin wants to win, Chris Lawson wants to win, and that’s the kind of mindset we need to elevate our NASCAR program.”
In 2023, RWR won three NHRA Drag Racing Series events in the Top Fuel class with driver Clay Millican and scored two Progressive American Flat Track wins with rider Briar Bauman. And coming off its 2022 FIM World Supercross Championship (WSX) with rider Shane McElrath, RWR continued to score WSX victories between McElrath and teammate Joey Savatgy.
Haley, a winner across all three of NASCAR’s top national touring series – Cup, Xfinity and Craftsman Truck – is relishing his opportunity with RWR.
“RWR has a long history in this sport and a bright future. Working together will only help us achieve what both me and Rick are looking to do,” Haley said. “Rick and the RWR guys genuinely believe in my ability on the track and back at the shop, and that means the world to me. This is already a great fit for me as a driver looking to take the next step and improve. Having a solid team behind me that truly wants me to be a part of their organization and drive their racecars has given me a lot of confidence.”
It’s confidence on top of confidence for Haley. The 24-year-old from Winamac, Indiana, brings one Cup Series victory to RWR and four NASCAR Xfinity Series wins, three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series triumphs and five ARCA Menards Series victories along with a championship – the 2016 ARCA Menards Series East title.
“Rick has shared his goal of changing the narrative of RWR by creating a team that is competitive and capable of running up front,” Haley said. “I fully believe in Rick’s vision and admire his dedication to the sport. He’s been a staple in the garage for years and I want to be the guy to see Rick’s vision through and make it a reality.”
Since 2004, RWR has fielded entries across Cup, Xfinity and Truck, making well over 1,300 starts. That tenacity has been embraced by Haley, who is taking a methodical approach to his first season with RWR, but his third fulltime year in Cup.
“There are a lot of factors that will play into our success in 2024. I really see the full year as being broken down into smaller seasons,” Haley said.
“The first few races are great to baseline and see where we are as a team. With a lot of new faces and parts on our cars, it’ll take some time to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses.
“The second stretch of races will be the building phase, where we take what we learned from the first stretch of races and tackle our weaknesses.
“Then in the third stage, we apply those changes and really start to make big strides. That’s where we’ll continue to develop while really starting to make gains and, hopefully, find success.”
Following the non-points Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, Haley and Lawson kick off their 36-race slate of points-paying events with the 66th Daytona 500 on Feb. 18 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Both events will be broadcast live on FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.