Rick Ware Racing: Justin Haley/Riley Herbst Kansas Race Advance

Rick Ware Racing

● Justin Haley, driver of the No. 51 Children’s Mercy Kansas City Ford Mustang Dark Horse for Rick Ware Racing (RWR), heads to Kansas Speedway in Kansas City for the first of two visits by the NASCAR Cup Series this season to the Heartland of America. Haley will make his seventh start at the 1.5-mile oval Sunday and looks to better his career-best Kansas finish of 18th, earned last May.

● While Haley his still looking for a top finish in the Cup Series at Kansas, the opposite is true of his time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. In four Xfnity Series starts at the track, he’s finished no worse than seventh, including back-to-back fourth-place finishes in his most recent starts in 2020 and 2021.

● He also has top-10 finishes in both of his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts at Kansas – ninth in 2017 and 10th in 2018 – and a sixth-place finish in his lone start there in the ARCA Menards Series.

● The Winamac, Indiana, native celebrated his 25th birthday last weekend at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway with his fifth top-25 finish of the year for RWR and second in the last three races.

● #HaleYES, there’s another video! The campaign rolls on as Haley sets off to save the puppies in his NASCAR Crocs – loaded down with Jibbitz.

● Riley Herbst is back behind the wheel of the No. 15 Monster Energy Zero Sugar Ford Mustang Dark Horse for RWR for his first non-superspeedway Cup Series start.

● While the NASCAR Xfinity Series is on hiatus this weekend, the fulltime driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing will try his hand at an intermediate track in the NextGen car. The Las Vegas native has five Xfinity Series starts at Kansas with a best finish of ninth earned in July 2020. He also competed in two NASCAR CraftsmanTruck Series races, posting finishes of ninth in 2019 and 12th in 2022.

● In four ARCA Menards Series races at the 1.5-mile track, Herbst has two top-five finishes and three top-10s. He started from the pole in the July 2020 race and led 18 laps en route to a third-place result.

● Through the season’s first 10 Xfinity Series races, Herbst is sixth in the standings and has claimed two top-fives and three top-10s, including a fifth-place finish in March at his hometown Las Vegas Motor Speedway – the same 1.5-mile track where he earned his career-first victory last fall.

● Monster Energy Zero Sugar will adorn Herbst’s No. 15 Ford Mustang at Kansas. Based in Corona, California, Monster Energy is the leading marketer of energy drinks and alternative beverages. Refusing to acknowledge the traditional, the company supports the scene and sport. Monster Energy is a brand that believes in authenticity and the core of what its sports partnerships, athletes and musicians represent. More than a drink, it’s the way of life lived by athletes, sports, bands, believers and fans.

● The Progressive American Flat Track (AFT) tour heads to Silver Dollar Short Track in Chico, California, for the inaugural Grand National Championship. AFT Singles rider Kody Kopp picked up a second-place result last weekend at the Texas Half-Mile in Fort Worth, his fourth podium finish in the first four events.

● Last weekend, NHRA Top Fuel driver Clay Millican competed in the Mission Foods NHRA Drag Racing Series 4-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina. He set a new team speed record in the first round of eliminations and advanced to the final round, where he finished second while topping the team record once again.

●  Rick Ware has been a motorsports mainstay for more than 40 years. It began at age six when the third-generation racer began his driving career and has since spanned four wheels and two wheels on both asphalt and dirt. Competing in the SCCA Trans Am Series and other road-racing divisions led Ware to NASCAR in the early 1980s, where he finished third in his NASCAR debut – the 1983 Warner W. Hodgdon 300 NASCAR Grand American race at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway. More than a decade later, injuries would force Ware out of the driver seat and into fulltime team ownership. In 1995, Rick Ware Racing was formed, and with wife Lisa by his side, Ware has since built his eponymous organization into an entity that fields two fulltime entries in the NASCAR Cup Series while simultaneously campaigning successful teams in the Top Fuel class of the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series, the LMP3 class of the IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge, Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup, Progressive American Flat Track and FIM World Supercross Championship (WSX), where RWR won the 2022 SX2 championship with rider Shane McElrath.

Justin Haley, Driver Q&A

The Cup Series has a full slate of intermediate tracks coming up and there’s been steady improvement from RWR over the last month. How does that impact your outlook, not just for this weekend but for the next several weeks?

“I felt like we had a really good race at Dover, where we finally started to put the pieces together, like we’ve been talking about since Daytona. I think everyone had work to do with the track being so different from Saturday, and it took us a while to get there, but a 23rd-place finish was something that I left the track feeling good about. The few intermediate races we had earlier this year weren’t great by any means, but I think we did make improvement from Vegas to Texas and I do think that can continue. We’re all working with a lot of patience to get where we want to be and I feel good about where we are headed.”

What makes Kansas different from Las Vegas, Texas and the other intermediate-style tracks you visit?

“Each track kind of has its own characteristics. Like, Texas is a really rough track and Kansas just isn’t. No dips in the track, just a very smooth surface. You’ll probably see everyone running up high, so there’s always a chance you get just a little too close and get into the wall, but we’ll see a lot of single-file racing and I would think passing will be hard to do. So, most of the issues would probably come from people trying to pass and just not being able to make it work, especially if your car isn’t handling perfectly.”

Riley Herbst, Driver Q&A

Kansas will mark your first intermediate start in the NASCAR Cup Series after five superspeedway starts. What are you hoping to learn at a different style of track after some strong runs in your previous starts?

“Honestly, it’s good to get these starts at different styles of racetracks in order to prepare yourself for any type of racing, if and when you move up to the Cup Series. I think it gives you more experience to learn how to navigate different tracks in this car. Obviously, we’ve had some strong runs in my past starts and I’m hoping to see the same this weekend. Kansas is all about learning, though. I want to be able to learn how to navigate an intermediate track in a NextGen car to make myself a better driver overall. When you’re at this stage in your career, it’s all about gaining that knowledge and experience to help yourself in the long run. I’m thankful to Rick Ware Racing and Monster Energy for this opportunity.”

You’ve had strong runs at Kansas in the past in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Talk about your experience at the 1.5-mile oval.

“Kansas has been good to me in the past, for sure. But the Trucks and Xfinity cars are so different from the NextGen cars. Even though I’ve had strong runs, I’ve still found myself in some trouble just because of how the races play out. With it being an Xfinity off weekend, I’m excited to still get a chance to be racing and get the extra experience. When the Xfinity Series shows up here in the fall, it’ll be time to go playoff racing. We’re doing everything we can to make sure we’re part of that this year, so any track time is good to prepare for that. I’m hoping to take the opportunity to learn as much as I can for the future.”


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