In auto racing, moments can be made or missed based on how you capitalize on a situation. With one of the craziest races in recent memory for many reasons, Cody Ware was able to capitalize on the situation to put himself in position to grab his best career NASCAR Cup Series finish.
Sitting 15th with 23 laps to go, Ware was right in the heat of the action in the middle of three wide. Somehow, some way, the field drove 190+ MPH into a wall of rain, spinning almost every car out in a vicious crash.
Notice the word almost, as one of the few cars that made it through happened to be the purple No. 51 NurtecODT Ford Mustang.
Ware would be placed fourth at the time, but after NASCAR waited over three hours for the rain to stop, racing resumed for the final laps, and the Rick Ware Racing driver would have to fight to maintain his ground on the racetrack.
In an odd last few laps with damaged cars everywhere, the 26-year-old laid back and charged through the pack, where he found himself third at the white flag. Ware would lose a few spots out of turn four with no help behind him, but with the time he had already made he still managed to grab a career-best sixth place finish.
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Daytona’s high banks have become somewhat of a magical place for the Rick Ware Racing team, now finishing both of this year’s Daytona races inside the top 20. Although the team could have had a fourth-place run if NASCAR decided to call the race earlier, Ware was happy the race got resumed so he could show the rest of the field that the team truly belongs.
“Honestly I’m glad we got the chance to go back racing,” Ware told TobyChristie.com after the race. “Even though we didn’t finish as high as we might have if the race got delayed by rain, we went racing hard. We were able to race all the way to the checkered flag, made it up to third on the white flag.”
Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric was one of the drivers that pushed Ware in the closing laps. Though it didn’t work out for a victory, it was a great feeling to get the help and recognition from the bigger teams towards the end of a race with that high of stakes.
“Didn’t have quite the lane and quite the run we needed, but I mean hey, we went for it.” Ware continued. “So to walk away from here with a top 10, battling for the lead and the win, it’s just an awesome experience. Just can’t thank NurtecODT and all my 51 boys enough for all the hard work they do. After some rough weeks for us to walk away from this, have some positive momentum, I’m really excited, gonna get a good night sleep tonight and enjoy this.”
In January, when the Cup Series teams took to Daytona for the first time in the Next Gen cars, Ware was thrilled with the speed in his Ford. With some support from the Stewart-Haas Racing program, he knew the speed would show on these types of tracks as the team continues to make steps in the sport.
“We don’t always have it every weekend, but we’re making baby steps and our team has come a long way from where we started in the Cup Series back in 2017.” Ware explained. “We’re going to continue to grow and use this positive momentum to revitalize the team and come out swinging at Darlington.”
It’s fairly likely that Ware will finish 32nd in the driver points, still a hefty amount behind Corey LaJoie in 31st and Todd Gilliland in 30th, but all signs point to the fact that the RWR program can still continue to improve.
Both cars in the organization finished in the top 10 at Daytona, with David Ragan also rallying to a ninth place result.
The NASCAR Playoffs begin next week at Darlington Raceway, but as recent trends show, Ware has the October 2 event at Talladega Superspeedway circled on his calendar.