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What Are the Realistic Expectations for Rick Ware Racing?

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

Rick Ware Racing is one of NASCAR’s most intriguing teams heading into 2024. They have revamped their driver lineup and a technical alliance with the resurgent RFK Racing. With all of the changes at RWR, what are realistic expectations for the team in 2024?

  • Justin Haley joins the team full-time in the #51 car for 2024 after spending the last two seasons in the Cup Series with Kaulig Racing. The second car will be an “All-Star Car” with Kaz Grala competing in 25 races and Cody Ware racing as well.
  • Rick Ware Racing struggled in 2023 with two All-Star cars, finishing 34th and 35th in the owner’s standings. Some wondered if they might lose their charter, but, NASCAR elected to allow the team to keep it.
  • Fans are curious about what RWR will do in 2024, but, some are skeptical. Not everyone is convinced that the new changes will mean better performance for RWR.

The Ceiling

To find out realistic expectations for RWR in 2024, it’s important to look at how good they can be. A good comparison for RWR in 2024 in terms of on-track performance could be Spire Motorsports in the early 2020s.

Throughout the early part of the decade, Spire Motorsports formed a technical alliance with a Cup Series team, Hendrick Motorsports. They had also signed their first anchor driver, Corey LaJoie, to drive full-time.

The team was by no means amazing during this time, but, they finished outside of the bottom three in Owner’s Points all three seasons. This meant that NASCAR did not have the option to revoke their charter. They forayed that into a three-car team for 2024 with major sponsorship from Gainbridge.

Rick Ware Racing is not going to immediately compete for wins in 2024. What they need to focus on is getting out of that bottom three in the Owner’s points so that NASCAR does not have the option to revoke their charter.

RWR has made two major improvements to make that happen including signing Justin Haley and the RFK alliance. These are comparable to Spire both signing Corey LaJoie and partnering with Hendrick Motorsports.

Now, RWR will not immediately get to where Spire Motorsports is now, but, a good start is to match that performance from the last few seasons. Is that a low bar? It is for other teams, but, RWR has failed to finish better than 33rd in Owner’s points throughout its history. Finishing 30th in the Owner’s standings is an accomplishment for RWR, and that needs to be their goal.

The Floor

Frankly, RWR has already hit the floor. They have consistently been either the slowest or close to the slowest Cup Series team on the grid for years. The worst-case scenario is the team remaining stagnant for 2024.

Taking that leap will not be easy for RWR because of how competitive the Cup Series is. Teams like Legacy Motor Club and Spire Motorsports look set to improve for 2024. Stewart-Haas Racing and Kaulig Racing may regress, but, Kaulig won a race in 2023 and SHR is a key partner Ford team. The Wood Brothers haven’t shown much improvement this offseason, but, they have an alliance with Team Penske. Front Row Motorsports has momentum after winning a race in 2023.

The drivers are question marks as well. Justin Haley regressed in 2023 with Kaulig compiling a worse average start worse average finish, worse points position, fewer top-5s, and fewer laps led than in 2022. Kaz Grala has only 7 Cup Series races under his belt, and he has not won a National Touring Series race since 2017 in the Craftsman Truck Series.

RWR is not guaranteed to immediately make a major jump in 2024. There are reasons to question whether or not their changes will be enough.

How will Rick Ware Racing do in 2024? Will they improve, and will they improve enough?

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Joshua Lipowski

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