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A Look at Rick Ware Racing’s Options in 2024

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Joshua Lipowski

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Rick Ware Racing is one of the most intriguing NASCAR Cup Series teams heading into 2024. The recent alliance with RFK Racing and the signing of Justin Haley position this team for an optimistic future. However, they have yet to announce a second driver for 2024, and Justin Haley is still without a car number for 2024. What are Rick Ware Racing’s options for 2024, and what is it that could keep Rick Ware Racing from fielding a second car in 2024?

1. Multiple Drivers

Rick Ware Racing employed this strategy with both of their cars this season. Drivers like Jenson Button, J.J. Yeley, Ryan Newman, Cole Custer, Andy Lally, and others have run races for the team this season. There is a benefit to this as it allows the team to hedge their bets on drivers that race well on specific tracks to gain positions in the owner’s points.

Now that they have committed to Justin Haley for 2024, they have their one driver to build around. It could make some business sense to go about it this way, and it has been tried before. Kaulig Racing ran the #16 car, a chartered entry, with multiple drivers for the 2022 season while Haley drove the #31 car full-time.

2. Ty Dillon

Ty Dillon’s future is in flux with no official contract signed for 2024. Spire Motorsports has been rumored to be moving on from Dillon for 2024, but why would Rick Ware Racing want him? Even though his results have not been great this year, Dillon is a veteran driver who brings some sponsorship with him from companies like Ferris Mowers.

That type of stability could be huge for Rick Ware Racing, especially while bringing in a younger driver like Haley. On top of that, Dillon will not wreck a ton of equipment, which is a big deal to teams like RWR.

3. Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson has officially been reinstated, but what awaits him in 2024? Rick Ware Racing has signed Justin Haley already, so why not continue to bank on the future with Gragson? RWR could offer Gragson a low-pressure environment to do some much-needed developing at the Cup Series level.

Gragson will not be asked to over-extend his equipment too far with RWR, and that could make for a good match. However, the question is whether or not RWR has the sponsorship to bring Gragson on. Given Gragson’s suspension, it may be tough for him to bring in a bunch of sponsorship, so whoever signs him may need to pony up some funding.

4. Cole Custer

Cole Custer has impressed in the Xfinity Series this season with two wins, and he presents an interesting case to make the move back to Cup in 2024. The previous relationship with RWR is the biggest thing that Custer has in his favor. He could bring some interesting experience to RWR full-time, and it also keeps Custer in the Ford camp.

The question is whether or not RWR would be willing to take a chance on Custer given his past Cup Series performance. He has run okay in his few races with RWR with three top-25 finishes and three lead lap finishes. One can only wonder how much better Custer can get if RWR improves as time goes on.

5. Downsize to 1 Car for 2024

There is another scenario that Rick Ware Racing may have to consider for 2024. They may have to downsize to one car for 2024. It is interesting to note that they have not announced a car number for Justin Haley for 2024, and that could be down to issues with charters. Here is the rule on charters according to NASCAR.com.

Charter teams are held to a minimum performance standard. If a Charter team finishes in the bottom three of the owner standings among all 36 Charter teams for three consecutive years, NASCAR has a right to remove the charter.

NASCAR.com

According to Jayski.com, the current #51 charter was the #15 charter in 2021 and 2022. The #15 car finished in the bottom three in owners points amongst chartered teams in 2021 and 2022, and the #51 car, which now owns that charter, currently sits in that bottom three. If the #51 car does not get out of that hole, NASCAR can revoke its charter.

It is not a guarantee, but it could happen. In that instance, RWR may decide to go down to a one-car operation. It is tough to field a team for all 36 races without a charter as is evidenced by the entry lists in the Next-Gen era.

RWR has a lot of places they could go in 2024. Is there another driver that we did not mention?

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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