Thursday, June 8, 2023

Cody Ware ‘Pretty Torn Up’ After For Sure Lead Lap Finish at Atlanta Ends in Wreck

Cody Ware was left wondering what had happened after a sure thing lead lap top-20 finish ended up with a hard crash at Atlanta. Photo Credit: Jonathan McCoy /

Late in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, it looked like Rick Ware Racing’s Cody Ware was heading to a surefire top-20 finish, as he was cruising on the lead lap biding his time for the finish.

Then, with under 25 laps remaining, as Ware and fellow lead lap cars were approaching the Front Row Motorsports teammates Michael McDowell and Todd Gilliland, who were several laps off the pace, the two FRM cars broke apart and took up two lanes of real estate, which caused a bottleneck as the lead lap cars were approaching.

Gilliland would scrape the outside wall then he would skid back across the track. In the chaos of the moment, Ware would go for a ride which resulted in a severe impact with the inside wall. In an instant, the 26-year old Ware saw his good run dashed.

Here is the replay of the crash that ended Ware’s day:

Following the race, Ware spoke to about the incident.

“I haven’t had a chance to watch a replay. All I know is that I saw [McDowell] and [Gilliland] split the field. One of them is four laps down, one of them is eight laps down. I’m just driving my own race, running in line,” Ware stated with disappointment. “I’ve got [Bilicki] behind me [and Haley] we’re all on the same game plan. Just ride it all out, get more toward the end of the race. [Gilliland], I guess, just bounced off the wall and collected me. What should have been an easy top-20 day for us, ended with a destroyed race car.”

As his team was busy thrashing to get the car repaired enough to load onto the hauler, the North Carolina-native was still visibly dejected with a slight mist in his eye.

The reason for the emotional reaction to the early end to the day is clear.

Ware and his Rick Ware Racing team have been the punchline of many jokes from fans of the NASCAR Cup Series for several years. However, the organization that putt-putted around the track the last few years building a budget for the Next Gen era, shed two Charters in the offseason to afford a Stewart-Haas Racing technical alliance.

The RWR team is doing what many insinuated for years that they would never do — they’re putting their best foot forward. That’s what makes the disappointing days even more disappointing in 2022.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” Ware said. “We finally have an opportunity to have better cars and better engines and we finally put our money where out mouth is, and make our program better. And I think we’ve been showing that, not just necessarily with raw speed but just making it into these races, not having mechanical failures, not bringing out wrecks and cautions and things like that. So, to be involved in something like that, that we shouldn’t have been involved in, especially when we’ve been running lead lap all day. It just really, really sucks. I am pretty torn up about it to be honest.”

While a good day turned bad in a hurry, Ware just wants a chance to find out what caused the incident that ended his day.

“I hope that at least one of them reaches out and talks to me about that situation, so I can get a better idea of what happened or at least why it happened,” Ware explained. “I have a fairly decent relationship with both of them, so I would appreciate a call or text. It would go a long way after a tough end.”

Ware and his No. 51 team will look to rally in an attempt to score their first lead lap finish of the 2022 campaign next weekend at Circuit of the Americas, the road course in Austin, Texas. Ware has a solid shot, as he has shown incredible improvement in his ability to drive clean this season.

Heading into Sunday’s race at Atlanta, Ware was the final driver, who had competed in all of the races in 2022, who had not recorded an on-track incident. If Ware can continue staying clean, finishes should start to come for him and his team.

Toby Christie
Toby Christie
Toby is the Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of Toby is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, he is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award-winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

Related Articles


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Stay Connected


Latest Articles