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What the Heck Does Justin Haley See in Rick Ware Racing?

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Joshua Lipowski

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In a surprising and peculiar NASCAR Silly Season move, Justin Haley, the current driver of the 31 car for Kaulig Racing, is moving on to Rick Ware Racing. Yes, that team that currently is sitting in 32nd and 34th in owner points with their two cars, and could be in danger of losing a charter.

You may be having a hard time making heads or tails of this move, but our job at the Daily Downforce is to attempt to make things like this make sense. So, what is it that Justin Haley saw in Rick Ware Racing, and what motivated him to make that change.

Why Rick Ware Racing?

Rick Ware Racing is an interesting race team. They obviously have money to compete in motorsports. They are a multi-car team in NASCAR, and they field cars in IndyCar, IMSA, and the Asian Le Mans Series. Success has always eluded them, however.

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In 558 career starts, a Rick Ware Racing car has only finished in the top-5 one time, and in the top-10 only eight times. They have also never won a race in IndyCar, and their IMSA team has not produced much results. It seems almost like they have the money to compete, but they don’t exactly know how to spend it.

They used to run three full-time Cup Series cars, but that was cut to two cars for this season. They also do not have a full-time driver for this year, as they have been piecing their schedule together with drivers like J.J. Yeley, Ryan Newman, Jenson Button, Cole Custer, and Todd Gilliland. Their last full-time driver, Cody Ware, is currently indefinitely suspended by NASCAR after an arrest in April.

Obviously, Rick Ware Racing has been able to entice some pretty big names for a reason. They brought Ryan Newman out of retirement, and Jenson Button, a Formula One World Champion, is running for the team.

There is something there that attracts them, and maybe it attracts Justin Haley as well. You could argue that Haley likes having a team built around him, but it seems that was already happening at Kaulig. Maybe it’s all about the sheer resources Rick Ware Racing seems to have.

The reason they can run so many racing series is because they obviously can fund it. Maybe they are just a good-consistent driver or team away from taking that next step. Maybe Haley saw that and felt they had a chance to succeed.

Maybe Rick Ware Racing promised him the sun, moon, and stars. Some things that Kaulig maybe could not offer. Speaking of Kaulig Racing….

Why Leave Kaulig?

It seemed for a while that Justin Haley would stay at Kaulig, a new race team that is working their way up with a young driver like Haley working his way up as well. It seemed that maybe the two would stay together for a while.

If anyone’s ride was in danger at Kaulig, A.J. Allmendinger seemed to be the one. With his age, maybe Kaulig could push Allmendinger to part-time to make room for someone like Chandler Smith.

There is always potential that there were issues behind the scenes between Haley and those at Kaulig Racing. There’s no good reason to air those dirty grievances out publicly when Haley is still under contract, if they even exist at all.

Maybe it all came down dollars and cents, or, maybe Kaulig saw more value in someone like Chandler Smith than Haley. Maybe Haley was on his way to becoming the number 2 driver at Kaulig, and moving to Rick Ware Racing gave him a chance to be a number 1 driver again.

It’s also worth noting that Haley’s performance has been pretty stagnant this year from last year. He finished 22nd in points last year, and he is 21st in points so far this season. Kaulig is not exactly on the up-and-up.

If Haley wants to improve, it’s not unreasonable for him to wonder if a change of scenery is what he needs. Maybe it could be considered too soon to think this in year two, but it’s still something to consider.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, this is a very peculiar move. It was unexpected, but sometimes moves like this tend to work out. When Tony Stewart moved from Joe Gibbs Racing to start his own team with Gene Haas, many scratched their heads. But Stewart ended up winning his third championship. When Brad Keselowski moved to Roush, it was questioned, but he is starting to slowly see the fruits of that move.

This could be another one of those kinds of moves. However, it very well could be a Daniel Suarez to Gaunt Brothers move, too. Time will tell.

North Carolina Moonshine and Motorsports Trail

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Joshua Lipowski

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